Reflections on a Mentoring Journey

Beth is a Kids Network Mentor

Reflections on a mentoring journey and memories – Beth and Eddie’s story

The wonderful Beth, working in digital marketing, has been on an incredible journey with her mentee over the past year. Together they have had 51 sessions, clocking up an incredible 92 hours of volunteering time and vital support for her mentee.

Beth was our first mentor we matched to an opposite gender, and the impact couldn’t be greater. She has also led the way with Tuesday evening mentoring, taking advantage of her flexible working hours to commit to a work evening.

Read her story…

Today I had the last session with my little mentee and whilst I feel extremely sad that I will not see him again, I mostly feel so proud of everything he has achieved over the past 15 months we have spent together.

Many people have asked me about this moment, or said they could not commit to mentoring because of this moment. I didn’t really know what to say to them, other than to say that The Kids Network supports you throughout. Now, at the end of my mentoring journey, I can see that you mentor a child FOR this moment. My mentee will now go into a new school year, more confident and excited than ever for the things ahead. His mind is more open to the world, he has lived through more experiences and taken on new interests. When we first met he wasn’t enjoying school and was getting into some trouble but in our last session he told me how his day at school in his new class had been ‘amazing’. I knew he couldn’t get much more out of our sessions.

I wanted to write this blog to encourage anyone who is doubting mentoring because of the ‘goodbye’ and I want to share with you some of my highlights….

Bonfire Night has always been one of my favourite events as growing up I always went to a bonfire with my family and until now had taken it somewhat for granted. My mentee had never been so I took him to a free event. Reflecting on the evening in his scrapbook over six months later, he still heartwarmingly described it as ‘the best night ever’. We both got a lot out of this session; for me it was being brought back to childhood and the magic of the fireworks, bonfire & teacup rides, for my mentee everything was new and wonderful and he shrieked more and more with excitement at every firework that went off. The only challenge was that for the rest of the year he kept wanting to go to another bonfire night – not so easy to make happen in spring!

I didn’t expect to find Surrey Docks City Farm just across the river from Canary Wharf but after a quick google search it became the following sessions plan after my mentee had asked if we could get him a rabbit which was an obvious challenge. He had never seen farm animals before and was both excited and nervous at the prospect of the interactive farm. We arrived and started to learn about the animals and the fruit and vegetables the farm were growing. My mentee was intrigued by it all and had gained the confidence to approach and ask the volunteers some questions. This was great to see as a mentor as when we first met he was too shy to order his own drink in a cafe, this really highlighted the effect our sessions were having. We were able to feed the animals which my mentee thought was wonderful! He said he ‘felt so happy’ and we have a photo of him AND a goat smiling away on the day.

When I asked my mentee what he wanted to do for our very Last Session I expected him to choose something overly extravagant that wouldn’t be possible (especially since in our first ever session he requested that we went on a plane and a boat!). I was taken aback when he said he wanted to play football in the park together. This was something we had done many many times, we would play football and have some snacks or an ice cream and chat about our days and things which were going on in his mind. It made me reflect on the impact I had on his life and it touched me how it wasn’t until right at the very end I realised how meaningful these simple sessions must have been for him during our time together.

Now I am looking back over my favourite sessions, one thing stands out, they were all free! The true value of what you bring as a mentor is sharing your time – I can’t remember what I did on my Tuesday evenings before mentoring, but I know next Tuesday night will be very quiet. I can not recommend mentoring with The Kids Network enough and I thank them for the perfect match with my mentee. To anyone doubting if mentoring is for them I would say it is like the Phoebe’s ‘selfless good deed situation’ in Friends – you’re the one who ends up feeling great.