Rachel was already volunteering for the Youth Offending Service when a friend told her about the Positive Placements project. Signing up as a mentor for a young person who wants to take their skills and employability to the next level really appealed to her and she has found the experience enriching.
Rachel says, “I particularly like interacting with and learning from the young people themselves; about their issues, concerns, hopes and fears. This has helped me to understand a world that otherwise would be alien to me. It has also helped me to appreciate what I have, and if nothing else, it keeps me young and in touch with the next generation!”
Rachel was delighted to see a positive outcome for her latest mentee when he gained a qualification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. She says, “He achieved that through both his hard work and acceptance of my help. We built a relationship based on mutual respect – it has been very rewarding.
“The main challenge is to hold back and not take over; I am not his mum or teacher or any other official figure. There have been plenty of those telling him what to do. My role is to listen, prompt, suggest, support and keep turning up.
“As a mentor I have definitely developed better listening skills. I believe I have a better understanding of the pressures faced by young people these days. And I have a better understanding of the very complex and inflexible benefits system and associated red tape.
“Mentoring has certainly been valuable for my own career development. I have developed useful skills that I can use in every other area of my life.”
Rachel concludes, “Some people volunteer to give something back, but for me the greatest reward is to be part of the process as a young person works to turn their life around. When they are ready to move, that is when Positive Placements can be effective.”