I mentioned in a previous article, that I would be sharing some detail with you relating to a number of our projects and Grandmentors is one of these; a national, award-winning project. I hope the following enables you to see and understand the huge impact it can have for both the Mentor and the Mentee. Our project manager Dionne has provided a Grandmentors overview for you.
Volunteering Matters has been leading UK volunteering in policy and practice for 52 years. We have a vision of a society where everyone can participate to build strong and inclusive communities. We work to achieve this by offering a vast array of opportunities for individuals, businesses and groups to volunteer with projects that invest in people.
Grandmentors offers the opportunity for people over 50 to volunteer an hour each week (or equivalent) to mentor a young person. These young people are generally not in education, employment, or training (NEET). They are aged 16-25 and are currently in care. However, due to their age, they will be leaving care to start an independent life. The project aims to support these young people to develop the skills necessary to live a successful life, independent of the care system, through a sustained period of mentoring (up to one year).
Grandmentor volunteers are supported with a programme of training to meet the changing needs of the relationship. The training comprises of 2 core modules and a selection of enrichment options to complement the skills and life experience each mentor brings with them. At Volunteering Matters we are looking to change the mainstream narrative around young people in care, to one filled with ambition, employability and success. To do this we need volunteers over 50 who are able to give the gift of time; people who are willing to take an active role in engaging with the community to improve a young person’s life chances.
Karen has been matched with her mentee for only a few weeks, but is already seeing positive changes in her young person.
“I heard about Grandmentors through the local business community. There is a business breakfast club that meets locally in Ipswich, and Dionne (Project Manager) had made contact with the group. Through that, the group heard her presentation about the programme, and I was really inspired by it” explained Karen.
“I recently retired from education where I was a headteacher, which means I have a lot of experience working in schools, the social care sector and children’s centres; looking after a range of age groups. This influenced my decision to become a Grandmentor, because I know the benefit and impact that a little bit of guidance can have; it can go a long way. I’ve only been volunteering as a Grandmentor for a short amount of time, but my mentee and I have already started to build a relationship. Just seeing everything from her – turning up on time to our meetings, making eye contact…..to being enthusiastic about what she’s going to do next is hugely rewarding! My mentee gave me two options she wants to explore – one was about working in the catering industry, and one was working with animals. Once we started mind-mapping all the different possibilities of what that might look like, it was huge, but in our upcoming meetings we will take these one at a time and consider the options in manageable steps.
From my point of view, I get a lot out of it and I’ve also gone from working a full 50 hours a week job into retirement, so it’s nice to have something to keep your professional brain alive! For my mentee, I’d like to think that she can look back on this experience in the future and say that….it’s actually given me the confidence to make decisions myself”.
You don’t have to be a Grandmentor to get involved with Volunteering Matters. This year we have had work experience students and an intern working on the project; gaining an insight into the charity sector and developing essential skills for later life. We also hold regular small and large events for the project, where we are always looking for support with fundraising and event management. If you would like to know more or to get involved in a project making waves in our community, get in touch.