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Mentoring can build confidence and offer hope for a bright future - Inspiring Scotland

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03.06.2021

Mentoring can build confidence and offer hope for a bright future

As part of the Volunteers’ Week 2021 celebrations, we interviewed intandem mentor Angela Jamieson to find out about her mentoring journey and the impact being a mentor has had on her life so far.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m currently a performance advisor supporting 29 charities who provide services to Survivors of Childhood Abuse. Having previously worked in the private sector, I was keen to change direction and through Inspiring Scotland got to know about mentoring opportunities with Ypeople. As a child I remember a turning point for me in Primary 6 when the teacher took time to encourage and support me, and helped me build my confidence to believe in myself more.

What made you want to become a mentor initially?

Listening to the experience of adults who as children had little or no support or guidance from anyone, then learning about the difference a mentor can make to a child inspired me to find out more. I met with the support team at Ypeople to learn about the support they provide and took the training alongside other potential mentors before I was matched with a mentee.

Do you feel your work experience, or learning you’ve developed throughout your career, has helped you as a mentor?

I was a mentor in previous roles and also had a mentor myself for career and personal development. There were some learnings particularly around listening, supporting, building trust and generating options that helped when I became a mentor. Often it’s just being there consistently for the person and gently encouraging them that matters most.

Is it difficult to balance work and mentoring?

It was clear upfront the commitment required, so I knew what to expect. Challenges sometimes arise so anticipating and being a little flexible is always a good thing.

What skills have you gained or built upon through mentoring?

Probably being adaptive and flexible are the key skills, as the needs of the mentee can sometimes change with little notice. Being a good listener and well organised helps too, as well as being able to generate options and ideas for activities, and being open to trying out new things. I’m lucky that my mentee shares similar interests: chatting and having a laugh, being out in the countryside seeing wildlife, eating out, cooking – she now makes a mean spag bol!

What is the most challenging thing about being a mentor and how have you overcome this?

Meeting the mentee and their family for the first time and starting to build a relationship based on trust can be a little daunting at first. The support provided, at the outset and ongoing, is superb, and it helps being able to share good ideas on activities and crafts with fellow mentors. Managing my own expectations was initially a challenge – these need to be led by the mentee and at their pace.

What is most rewarding about being a mentor?

The simple things like seeing my mentee having a good time, smiling, chatting, stretching themselves a little out of their comfort zone and starting to think about what they’d like to do in future. Just getting to know them, sharing experiences and to see them happy and believing in themselves is enough.

How has mentoring impacted your life, and how do you think its impacted the life of the young person you mentor?

Mentoring has given me a different perspective on life, it has opened my eyes to some of the challenges young people can face and made me more determined to support where I can. It has stopped me sweating the small stuff! For my mentee having someone independent, who listens, is interested in them, is not judgmental and is someone they can trust, I think gives them confidence and hope for a bright future. I would encourage people to explore mentoring and remember that support is there for you every step of the way.

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