Mentors learn too!

1 January 2013

One of the most enjoyable parts of my role as RSN’s Mentoring Coordinator is matching volunteer mentors with the young people who have been referred to us by colleges who believe that having one-to-one support could make a real difference to their educational progress. It’s a privilege to be able to watch these relationships progressing and the way it impacts both the mentor and the mentee, who are able to learn from each other’s experiences. Here’s what Lydia, a mentor with RSN, and Anna, a young asylum seeker who meets with Lydia on a weekly basis, had to say about their Christmas activities together.


"When I first moved to London in 2010, I wanted to be involved with a community programme but struggled to find a way to practically engage. And although London is a big and diverse city, I found it alarmingly simple to live in my ‘London bubble’ without interacting with people other than my friends, family and colleagues. So when I heard about the opportunity to volunteer with RSN, I jumped at the chance to be involved with such meaningful work.

Mentoring was something that I felt could have a direct impact on a person’s life while also being incredibly rewarding. When I think back to my childhood, I remember all of the people who paid special interest to my life, and I know they helped shape the person I am today. My hope is that I’m reciprocating the kindness I experienced by investing time in a young person’s life. What I love is that it’s a two-way street; yes I ‘give’ my time to her, but I’ve learned new things through my mentee and greatly enjoy the one hour we spend together each week. I recommend mentoring not just because it’s a positive way to give back, but because being in relationship with a young person is incredibly rewarding and also a lot of fun.

I was initially quite nervous about how my mentee and I would get along with each other. I worried about my ability to communicate with someone a bit younger than me and in a different stage of life,  but in fact our differences are what make it so enjoyable!" 


"Lydia and I decided to decorate a gingerbread house in celebration of Christmas. It took a bit of time to prepare. We bought different candy to decorate the house with.

I was quite excited to make it for the first time. Lydia made the icing, which worked like a glue. We used the icing to build the gingerbread house. The candy was used to make doors and windows. We put both of our ideas together to decorate the house. One of our favourite parts was the Jelly Baby Santa who was on the roof.

I was quite happy with the end result and it was easier than I expected it to be! It was tempting to not eat all of the candy while decorating the house! It makes me want to do it again next year. I might repeat some of the same decorating ideas.

All of our friends were so impressed with the final product! Many people asked if they could eat it."


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