Why Mentoring Matters

Thursday 29th October

Mentors can often prove to be one of the most valuable resources at an organisation’s disposal. The gains can be huge, particularly when it comes to cementing learning processes. In the past new residents have come to us with mentoring provisions already in place and the advantages have been immediately evident. We've seen how graduates who'd moved to the second phase of our programme (where routines are far more relaxed and emphasis is placed on self-dependency) have especially benefited from this additional layer of support. It would only be a matter of time (and funding) before we'd make the decision to enhance our Move-On programme with this important development.

In the middle of 2014 we began the process of building mentoring into our programme as an optional addition for our residents and in September this year our efforts finally came to fruition. After many months of preparation including securing funding, creating protocols and holding workshops we finally have our first eight mentors trained and in place. We'd like to say a big thank you to the New Bridge Foundation for all their help. Meanwhile, one of our residents, Darren (who we featured in last month’s newsletter), has already signed up for support.  

So what is mentoring and why does it matter?

Mentors are there to provide an additional, informal, layer of support in a way which is as much enabling as it is informative. The idea is not to ‘fix’ things for a mentee but, rather, give them the confidence to look for their own solutions. Mentors act as critical friends who can draw on their own life experiences to gently guide and signpost mentees to a range of options when considering new ideas or dealing with problems. Very often it can be the knowledge that the relationship is a voluntary one, driven by the mentee, which makes it work so well. Mentors are non-judgmental and it is this fact, too, which instils confidence in mentees to explore new ideas and implement much of what they have already learned. This is particularly the case at The Nehemiah Project where residents are shedding old, bad habits and applying the new life skills they have been taught in our workshops. Together mentee and mentor can set goals and monitor progress at a pace which works for both of them.

Mentoring matters because it hugely underpins more formal methods of learning. It instils confidence and can play an enormous role in generating self-esteem. A good mentor will inspire as well as give support. They can offer new and different perspectives which may enable their protégé to consider approaching issues from a different angle. The possibilities are unlimited.

Currently 70% of our residents moved on to our second stage successfully with 65% reporting continued abstinence from substance abuse a year after leaving us. Although these figures are significantly higher than national averages there is still room for improvement. As we continually look for ways of enhancing our two-stage course we very much hope our new mentoring programme will have a major impact on our critical work. We’ll keep you posted.