“I became a mentor two years ago. I had set myself some challenges for the new year and volunteering was one of them. I had no idea where I should volunteer but when I heard about the mentoring opportunity at YMCA Kirkcaldy, I decided to go for it.
I had a great relationship with my first mentee but after my son passed away, I felt I had to stop volunteering for a few months.
My new mentee’s family life is chaotic. She’s quiet and withdrawn. It’s often challenging to engage with her because she isn’t very responsive. Sometimes, I turn up and nobody’s home or she doesn’t answer phone calls or messages.
But I keep engaging with her because I know that eventually I’ll get a response. I know she has no one else to turn to, so I have to keep showing up.
Recently, I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough with her and that has meant a lot to me.
Last November, Linda, the Mentoring Programme Manager, phoned me to let me know that she had put me down for an award and that I had won. At first, I thought I had been just been selected out of our group of mentors or within the YMCA. I hadn’t realised this was a national award! I was shocked.
Getting the Mentor of the Year Award was overwhelming because it was on the same week as my son’s death anniversary. But it was also a great encouragement because, in many ways, I felt like I hadn’t accomplished much last year. I’d started back as a student nurse in September but that hasn’t really worked out. So being recognised for the work I do as I mentor means a lot.
Mentoring has given me the chance to be a role model, not just to the young person I mentor but also to my other son. I’ve been encouraging him to go back to work but I felt I could not ask him to do that if I wasn’t getting out there myself.
Committing to being a mentor has been tough at times. I struggle with anxiety and it’s been worse since last year but mentoring has given some structure and purpose to my week. I would encourage anyone to get involved.