A mentor’s memoir
One of my daughters worked as a psychologist in a south London School. She convinced me that there were a lot of young people suffering as a result of not having reliable adults in their lives. I had no special talents other than a willingness to listen, an availability and above all else a desire to be a dependable presence in a young person’s life. I decided to begin mentoring, first in the School of Confidence and later with Unlocking Potential.
Philip (not his real name) was my first mentee. He was in his early twenties with no British passport meaning he was unable to work, receive benefits or even volunteer. As this damaged his self-confidence, my role was to help re-establish his self-belief and his shine a light on his various talents. This took some time as he needed to trust that I would respect what he chose to tell me, but in due course he realised that he could count on me. After 18 months of regular meetings he improved his written and spoken skills and we began to enjoy a trusting relationship. During this time, he also was also granted British Citizenship in which he eventually won in front of the Immigration Tribunal. The Home Office lawyer even congratulated him on how well he had spoken before the judge. Even though the Government appealed the decision, he managed to win that as well. So with his new British passport he landed his first job with a restaurant chain, and when I went to see how he was getting on, I was happily surprised to observe that he was dealing directly with the customers. I noticed how he was able to look them in the eye and take their orders with a smile on his face,clearly in his element.
A few months later he announced that he had left that job. My heart sank. But he had in fact secured a much better job working for an international bank.
I have learnt that mentoring can have a very positive influence on someone’s life. The process can take time and not every case is as successful as Philip’s, but as a mentor I have received huge satisfaction from seeing Philip grow into an independent young man who is entirely capable of communicating effectively and running his own life.
Although I will always be there for him, he does not depend on me at all.