Mentoring Young People – The Essential Guide
A good mentor can have a profound impact on a young person’s life.
If you’ve got what it takes, you could provide the positive influence and guidance they need. Interested in mentoring young people?
This page is for you.
What Does a Youth Mentor do?
Your role as a youth mentor will depend on the specific organisation you’re working with.
In general, however, a youth mentor establishes or follows programmes with young people to help improve their well-being and prospects.
This can be on a 1-2-1 basis or in a group setting.
A youth mentor might do some of the following:
- Help set goals and actionable tasks
- Support important applications and life events
- Offer guidance with difficult decisions
- Check in regularly to monitor someone’s progress
- Support a mentee with training and educational searches
The Benefits of Youth Mentorship for You
Mentoring young people takes a specific skill set, but it offers work that is endlessly rewarding. Below are just some of the things that make being a mentor fantastic.
You’re Shaping Lives
About 25% of families in the UK are headed by just one parent. A further 100,000 children are cared for completely ‘away from home’. This is a huge population of young people who could benefit endlessly from stable, dedicated support.
With the right partnership, you’ll see your mentee grow from strength to strength. It’s difficult to put into words quite how incredible this can feel. For the right candidate, it’s one of the best volunteer positions in the world.
It Looks Great on a CV
If you’ve worked through a prestigious institution such as the Prince’s Trust, for example, this can highlight your strengths as a compassionate, driven worker.
Expands Your Knowledge and Skills
When you mentor someone, you become their source of wisdom and knowledge. This is no small responsibility. Many new mentors comment on how they feel inspired to keep learning so that they can offer the best possible support.
The Benefits of Youth Mentorship for Mentees
When things work out, a mentorship program can profoundly impact the course of a young person’s life. Below are just some of the things that make mentoring younger people so important.
Improved Well-Being and Prospects for Mentees
There’s a wealth of evidence suggesting that mentoring in all its forms can offer positive results for mentees. A young person with a positive role model they trust may:
- Be more likely to attend school
- Have better exam results
- Have a better overall self-image
- Enjoy improved job prospects
- Be less likely to commit crime
It Has a Significant Impact on Crime
This article does not have the scope to tackle the crime-poverty-role-model relationship. However, there is strong evidence that suggests youth mentorship programmes are an effective way to lower violent crime.
If you offer someone the support and guidance they need, they stand a much better chance of building a positive life for themselves.
Their Job Prospects Improve
According to the American institution, Mentoring.org, young people who have a mentor are 130% more likely to hold leadership positions once they enter the workforce. They’re also more likely to volunteer and maintain a healthy relationship with their education.
It’s not all sunshine and roses, but you can truly help someone if you find the right organisation.
What Makes a Good Mentor for a Younger Person?
Being a good mentor takes a whole lot of heart. Take a look through this section and see if you’ve got what it takes.
Compassion and Patience
As a mentor for young people, you may encounter children who are significantly less fortunate than you. Their social, anger and time-management skills may offer challenges along the way.
It’s your job to meet them with compassion and try to understand their experience. You’re there to offer advice, but you need to know where they’re coming from first.
Knowledge and Communication Skills
Imparting actionable knowledge and guidance takes a fair bit of skill to get right. You’ll need to learn how to connect with and ‘get through to’ your specific mentee. Do you have the knowledge and life experience they’re looking for?
Confidence and Honesty
Sometimes, you have to be firm to help someone. Will you have the confidence to tell them what they don’t want to hear? The goal is never to upset anyone, but being a mentor isn’t always about being someone’s friend. If they’re letting themselves down, you may be able to help if you’re honest with them about what’s happening.
How do You Mentor a Younger Person?
As mentioned above, the specific nature of your mentorship will depend on the organisation you partner with.
Let’s take the Prince’s Trust as an example. A broad-strokes overview of the mentorship program at PT is as follows:
- Both the mentor and mentee sign an ‘agreements’ document that outlines the rules of their relationship.
- The mentor and mentee set goals together.
- These are ‘SMART’ goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-sensitive).
- There are regular meetings to assess the mentee’s progress towards these goals.
The mentor provides regular feedback and reports on their mentee’s progress. This modus operandi is not uncommon across the UK.
If you want to mentor a younger person, we strongly recommend finding a formal institution to do so.
Some Youth Mentorship Organisations
Below are some of the best youth mentorship organisations in the UK. Consider your own experience and skill set when applying to any of these.
Mentioned throughout this article, the Prince’s Trust is one of the UK’s leading organisations that aims to improve the well-being and job prospects for young people across the country.
ReachOut offers weekly mentoring sessions to young people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. All mentors are volunteers and offer as little as 2 hours per week.
The Young Lives Foundation
The YLF offers a variety of 1-2-1 mentorship to young people who need guidance and support. Mentors meet with their mentees regularly at one of the organisation’s many ‘hubs’ across the country.
Much like the Prince’s Trust approach outlined above, goals are set and regular feedback and guidance are provided. The organisation’s ‘care mentors’ offer mentorship to young people who have recently started living independently after leaving care.
This may be a good option for you if you’re based in the East of England. Groundwork offers both youth-centre-based and remote mentoring to young people from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Your work as a mentor will focus on your mentee’s school attendance, personal well-being, and general attainment. You’ll go through a training process before working with any young people.
Mentoring Young People - Summary
We hope you’ve found the information on this page helpful.
Remember that it takes a lot of patience and strong communication skills to be a good mentor - so ask yourself honestly if you have what it takes before applying.
If you’re the right candidate, you could be facing a new voluntary position that changes not only a young person’s life, but also your own.
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