Saturday, 5 January 2013

Mentoring young people (2)

You should never get involved with mentoring young adults unless you are prepared to accept that you will never hear the end of their story.  I always use the analogy of travelling to a foreign country – I might be the person who takes them to the airport, or I might be the pilot of the plane, or the coach driver at the other end or even the hotel receptionist. I play a role, perhaps a quite important role, in that young person’s life but eventually my time helping them must come to an end.
Yes it can be quite upsetting when this happens. You will have invested lots of time and emotional energy and it leaves a gap in your life when you realise that the relationship has come to an end. When it is a quick, clean break it isn’t so bad, particularly if the young person has found stability and happiness in their life.

When it becomes really quite unpleasant is if you know that your client is still deeply troubled or unhappy or when the decision to break all communication isn’t by mutual consent. If you have exchanged emails on a weekly basis for many months it can seem really hurtful when the messages suddenly stop and all your attempts to get back in touch are ignored. If this is something that you feel would be unendurable then I would have to say that being a mentor for a care leaver probably isn’t the best job for you.
I have been fairly lucky. None of my long-term projects have ended messily but in my head I realise that one day it is bound to happen and that I will have to be a “big brave boy” about it.      

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