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In celebration of National Mentoring Day, Geraldine a mentor who is part of the Skipper programme, run by EBP South and The Romsey School in Romsey, Hampshire talks about the programme and the benefits of seeing a mentee grow.

EBP South Mentoring National Mentoring Day

National Mentoring Day Blog

Calling all new mentors – there is no rule book for mentoring, each mentor is different, each mentee is different, each journey is different – apart from that of course it’s all very straightforward!  

When I started mentoring, I first defined what I wasn’t. I wasn’t a teacher, a social worker, a careers adviser, a psychologist and I wasn’t a best buddy.  I then wrote down a whole list of buzz words and decided that as a mentor my primary role should be that of ‘motivator’ – a good listener with a positive and creative approach offering encouragement, hope and inspiration for life’s journey ahead.

The programme

I’m participating in a two year ‘Skipper’ programme – which is a joint venture between EBP South in Portsmouth and The Romsey School for years 10 and 11.  Mentoring is just one element of this innovative project, with an aim to help a wide range of specially selected students reach every aspect of their full potential.  As the name ‘Skipper’ suggests, in sailing terms the programme is all about navigation and changing tack to complete an exciting voyage of discovery.

From the outset EBP South worked in close co-operation with the school to identify the right mentor/mentee pairings and set things up efficiently. We have individual, designated meeting spaces – which is a great help for privacy and comfort.  Key to the success of this mentoring program is the shared commitment from all parties, including parents.

When I first met my mentee I took time to get to know him as a person, treat him as an adult and develop trust and a warm but professional ‘business’ relationship.  I took careful note of the introductory comments from the school and I also took time, several sessions in fact, to make my own initial assessment of my mentee’s needs so that I could pinpoint where best to contribute motivational support.

Each week I plan our sessions in outline, but at the same time take care to let them evolve organically.   I encourage my mentee to set his own goals, while I provide support and guidance along the way.  As part of the EBP South mentoring team I am ever-mindful that part of my role is to illustrate how school life relates to business life. My business background has helped me convey this with young people – which is why mentoring partnerships like this are so effective.

At the end of our first year of mentoring I really felt that my mentee’s confidence had grown.  This was confirmed when he invited me to attend the end of year assembly at which he performed with his pop group for the first time – a very tough challenge for him and I am delighted to say that he absolutely ‘nailed it’ with courage and distinction.

Mentoring is not a quick fix.  It is not always possible to evaluate success.  The seeds we sow may not grow straight away.  Mentoring is my investment in the future.  Every child deserves the very best chance in life.  Young people are our future.

Geraldine Neame