My Journey as a Mentor with Our Place Support – Claire Pankhurst

In 2018; after working in offices most of my working life, I decided I wanted a change in career to something more rewarding.  I did some research and discovered Our Place Support and their role in providing mentors in schools – for children who needed additional help with their emotions or circumstances, and this sounded exactly the kind of thing I wanted to do.

Having children myself, the thought of helping those in less fortunate circumstances or who had had to deal with upset or trauma at a young age really appealed to me so in September 2018 I went for an interview with the Our Place Mentoring Scheme and then enrolled on their Level 3 Award in Mentoring Practice.

By January 2019 I was a qualified Mentor and placed in a local school to support 2 children. These mentoring relationships lasted right up until Christmas 2019, as the Our Place Mentoring Scheme offer long term mentoring support allowing Mentors to really get to know the children and young people and walk with them on their journey to making positive changes. Following the Christmas break I was allocated two new mentees in a different school and it was at this point, when I began forming these new relationships that I realised that being a Mentor was not only about bringing hope and sharing helpful strategies but it meant being someone a child would look forward to seeing each week, a friendly consistent face who they could feel comfortable talking to and having fun with –  over the last few years I have grown in confidence as a Mentor and  become more creative and equipped with resources, strategies and ideas – I really enjoy planning my mentoring sessions, ensuring our sessions are impactful but fun and engaging and not seen as another school lesson.

 

Mentoring Through Lockdown

In March 2020 things became more difficult as we found ourselves having to adapt in ways we never imagined in order to continuing our mentoring through a pandemic and national lockdown. We began to offer our mentoring sessions via Zoom and after accessing training with the team, participating in some practice sessions and taking advice from my own children (!), I’m now confident in supporting my mentees via Zoom and enjoy making the most of online resources including interactive games and the Zoom interactive whiteboard.

These are strange times we are living in but I feel very glad that we have been able to continue our work with children which has become even more important in the current circumstances, and becoming a Mentor for Our Place was one of the best decisions I have made!