When a young person is struggling to cope with an issue, what can we do to help? That was the question Ossory Youth asked ourselves in 2012 when we were finding that more and more young people were looking for an individual and supportive space to work things out. As an organisation we felt we should provide another individual support that is different to the traditional counselling route for young people.
Individual mentoring as an approach has been widely used in youth organisations across the globe to give young people a chance to develop a relationship with an adult, separate from parents and teachers, who is simply just there to listen and offer friendly and supportive advice. Later that year following a process of research and consultation, the Volunteer Mentoring Programme was established. Since then, our decision to develop the programme has been justified. Ossory Youth’s mentoring programme has provided much needed support and guidance to thirty young people on a one to one basis. This support was only possible by the dedication and commitment of eighteen adult volunteers, who gave up an hour a week to provide a friendly listening ear to a young person trying to keep up with modern adolescent life. Marie Power is one of those Mentors. “For me, it was nice to see a young person I mentored work out that there was nothing wrong with being shy but it was stopping her from doing things she wanted to do. This gave her the confidence and self-assurance to sign up to things and not let her shyness stop her. And the funny thing is that she learned this by herself, I only created the space for her to work it out for herself.”
Anecdotal evidence tells us much more. We’ve witnessed young people grow in confidence and self-belief over the past years thanks to having someone to help them realise they always had the ability, it just needed to come to the surface. Many young people have went on to join groups in Ossory or outside, some have moved on when it has come to a natural end.
Already in 2015, the referrals continue to come in on a regular basis. It’s clear that the Mentoring Programme is responding to a real and evident need and we are committed to growing this part of the service more.
We are looking to increase the panel of Mentors available. According to Eilis Walklett, Coordinator of the programme, “We are getting to the stage where we have a waiting list of young people seeking one to one support and we aren’t able to provide it straight away. We would like to be able to offer the mentoring at the time when it’s needed. That’s why we are making a fresh appeal to people in Kilkenny to try out volunteering as mentors for young people. We are inviting adults of all ages to contact us if they think they might like to try volunteering, even if they’re not sure what’s involved. We will talk it through with them without any commitment.”
Anyone interested in finding out more, please feel free to drop into Ossory Youth on New Street or alternatively contact Eilis Walklett on (056) 7761200 / (087) 9442112/ firstname.lastname@example.org