18-24 November 2019 is #iwillWeek, and we’re joining in to celebrate the #PowerOfYouth!
The #iwill campaign supports our Youth Volunteer Programme. One of our projects is our CAMHS mentoring project. Young adult volunteers are matched one-to-one with a current CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) user for a befriending relationship.
We hope this project will have a real ‘double benefit’ with a positive impact for both groups of young people – volunteers and service users.
What motivated you to get involved in the CAMHS mentoring project?
Dalia (mentor) – “I liked the idea that I could work closely with a hospital to provide a trusted service for someone near my own age. Particularly as I understand the pressures and experiences of being a teenager and balancing school, friends and life at home.”
Mentee – “I wanted help with improving my English and to become more confident speaking with other people.”
Rikie (referring staff) – “I liked the idea of young people helping other young people. Many young people I work with have limited social interaction and some do not have sustained friendships. It is a useful adjunct to therapy and maximises progress in therapy.”
What could the young volunteer bring to the project?
Dalia – “I brought an openness to getting to know my mentee in a judgement-free space and a determination to help them gain what they wanted from using this service.”
Rikie – “Recent experience of being a teenager and more in contact than myself with the pressure of today’s social media for young people. The volunteers I have met have been approachable, caring and enthusiastic and this enables communication.”
How has the mentor-mentee relationship grown?
Mentee – “I was really nervous at first but now I am comfortable speaking and sharing more with my mentor. Each session we go to a different place and I like it because I get to explore areas I haven’t been to before”
Dalia – “At first, I was worried that my mentee wouldn’t warm to me but by encouraging them to choose activities they liked and ensuring there was no pressure from them to share if they didn’t want to, eventually they felt more comfortable to speak openly and share details about themselves. I’ve enjoyed trying new activities and visiting places with my mentee. It’s a great way of getting to know London more but also a great opportunity for my mentee to build confidence getting out of their comfort zone whilst enjoying it too.”
What have you gained from the mentoring relationship?
Mentee – “Confidence in being able to talk with other people who I’ve never met before.”
Dalia – “Patience and empathy. Initially, I came into the programme revved up about personal development and wanting to help my mentee, forgetting that they were probably feeling apprehensive about meeting their mentor. I’ve learnt to take things at the pace of the individual I’m working with to ensure that they don’t feel as nervous meeting someone new.”
Rikie – “Mentees gain confidence in communication and being with others. The young people who have been seeing a mentor tell me that it has been easier that they thought it would be. It has given them the experience of having a positive relationship. They can see that one can overcome challenges such as being shy, making friends and being assertive.”
What is the power of youth volunteering?
Mentee – “Communication. A lot of people don’t open up to others but when they do, it's good, because they can talk and share their opinions with each other. I like knowing that there’s a space to do that.”
Dalia – “It instils the importance of civil engagement. By encouraging young people to get involved in the growth of other young people, I believe it empowers both groups in their personal and professional development.”
Rikie – “Young people can associate with youth mentors as they are closer to their age and the informality of it makes communication easy."