Group Mentoring with Our Place Support – It’s A Heart Thing
Here at Our Place Support our mission statement is to ‘Help People Make Positive Changes in their Lives’. There are very many ways in which we do this, one being the delivery of mentoring sessions to small groups of children and young people; to support and encourage a positive mental health and wellbeing.
Our Mentor; Debbie Clarke, has played a significant part in the development and delivery of our group mentoring. In this blog Debbie reflects on her experience as a Group Leader working in schools across North Birmingham.
‘The Kindest of Hearts have felt the most pain’
It’s been a fair few years since I tentatively walked into one of our Primary schools with the first ever group work offering for Our Place – Self Esteem and Confidence, a Pirate Adventure of island hopping in order to discover the treasure we have within ourselves. I will always remember the small group of bright-eyed youngsters who came to discover themselves – keen and full of energy they threw themselves with all their heart into the learning and the activities, the games, and crafts. They opened up, explored who they are, with such honesty, it humbled me, they shared experiences, explored their hopes and dreams and looked to each other as they became vulnerable in speaking out their individual stories.
They were forgiving and understanding of my first session nerves and since this was a pilot – they were keen to give feedback on their experience and loved being involved in changes, tweaks, and further development.
The children are all at secondary school now heading towards GCSE’s and A levels, but they remain in my heart because of how generous they were, in a time of need for them. Looking beyond themselves, they gave of themselves – collaborating to make the group work better and better for others that would follow. The memory of each big open and generous heart has been a great learning for me and changed me as much as the course had changed them
Doing It Together
‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’ (African Proverb)
Since then we have designed many more group work sessions, being responsive to need and keen to support our schools and community. They have been built as team, in collaboration and always run as a pilot before we fully launch. Learning together with the children and young people we support, partnering with schools and being supported by our creative and dedicated Our Place Team. We have found this to be absolutely key in this process of developing new and supportive material.
You see we are in all of this, for the deepening of relationships, building of community and for the long haul. I have found that things of the heart take time, healing too, is not a quick fix but done together, over time cultivates and nourishes a richer and more fulfilling, healing journey for all. And I include myself in this.
‘Do it now, sometime ‘later’ may become ‘never’ (Anon)
Heart and partnership are ever more vital now. The changes we have experienced have grazed, bruised and for some cut deeply. Change creates Loss. With the uncertainty around us the ‘now’ takes on so much more significance. So, a new group work material has been nurtured over the time of full lock down, that will look to supporting children and their emotions and well-being in this strange here and now. I’m excited about this piece of work and for the future of group work but also wondering how we can ‘do’ this, with the limits we now live with. It will take creativity, it will take partnership, it will take collaboration, it will take Team and it will take Heart, all of which, I know, from lived experience, we have in buckets full.
So right now, I have hope for the enfolding and future delivery of group work because I have Team, I have Relationship and all together WE have Big Heart for the courage and compassion it will take.