Words by Angela Clark
Photo by Caroline Finn
A positive role model in a person’s life can lift them up, help them believe in themselves and support them to achieve things they may have never even dreamed about.
This is especially the case for young people who may be struggling to meet academic demands in school, or build positive relationships with others.
They might not even have someone to talk to and listen to them.
Y Sort It is one of several organisations offering youth mentoring support to young people in West Dunbartonshire.
Through their Intandem project the local youth charity recruits volunteers and matches them with young people.
The mentors meet regularly with their mentee to offer support and help them through difficulties they are experiencing in their lives.
Intandem Mentoring Coordinator, Lyndsey Coleman, said: ‘‘Through our mentoring training with the volunteers it gives us a chance to get to know them and their interests.
“And when we meet the young people we do the same.
“We go out and meet the families, we get to know them, find out what the young person’s interests are and if they want to be involved that’s how we match and decide who is the best mentor for them.’’
Volunteers come from a range of backgrounds and have a wealth of experience.
All want to give back to the community and help children whilst some are keen to increase their skills and chances of employment working with young people.
Lyndsey said: ‘‘We have had volunteers who are now employed with us.
“If you want to work with kids it’s a great stepping stone.
“Our volunteers say it’s very rewarding watching the kids grow and feel they are making a difference in their lives.’’
The organisation asks volunteers to commit to a minimum of a year to ensure the young person has a consistent role model in their lives.
Without this commitment it wouldn’t be possible to successfully support as many children as the organisation does.
Lyndsey said: ‘‘If they complete the year and they want to continue they can stay longer.
“We have had two matches which just recently came to an end, they were matched for about four years.
“The volunteers have been with them from the start and stayed on that journey with them providing consistent support throughout the years.’’
Benefits For All
The experience volunteers gain from working with a young person can often have a positive impact on their own lives as well.
It can improve their confidence and skills and give them experience beneficial for future employment opportunities.
Lyndsey added: ‘‘The benefits for mentors vary. Some are looking for work experience, some are studying and looking for experience in relation to the course they are on.
“We have retired people with their own life experiences and they want to give back to others because they had role models in their lives that changed the path they were on.’’
The age of the children being supported ranges from 8-14-years-old.
If you think you could give your time to help children who may not have the support and encouragement they need email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0141 941 3308.