It’s National Mentoring day – a day launched to raise awareness of the invaluable and rewarding contribution that mentoring makes which has a huge impact on not only our economy but also our society. To mark the day, Ella and her mentor Jill share their experiences on the St Mungo’s Mentoring Scheme – an effective way for staff to develop experiences and transferable skills to develop their career.
Ella, Apprentice in Haringey
I’m an Apprentice Recovery Worker at St Mungo’s Haringey Recovery Service. I’ve been there six months. The job is challenging. There’s so much to take in. It’s all the job roles and codes of practice you have to get a grip of.
I really like working there. The clients are diverse. Everyone has a story. One of my highlights was this client who turned her life around so quickly. I was there to support, guide her and push her in the right direction. I helped her with her motivational interviews, finding out what her goals were and how she could help achieve them.
I was lucky enough to get a good mentor, Jill. She has a lot of experience in St Mungo’s. The mentoring sessions are a safe place and independent to where I work. I can speak freely.
Because I’m just in one project, it is good to have an outlook on what goes on elsewhere in the organisation. It was also good to meet someone who’s had a lot of experience to give you better insight.
The mentoring programme has given me more confidence. I found the job a bit daunting before I found Jill. She builds me up for work. She gives me pep-talk. She builds me up and sends me on my way.
She’s helped me find out what my possibilities might be in future and how I can reach them. She’s fun and not formal. You don’t get that with your boss unless you’re very lucky.
I plan to stay in St Mungo’s. I hope to gain as many skills as possible. I want to follow the Ex-offenders careers pathway.
Jill, Social Work Practice Assessor and Ella’s mentor
I’m a social worker by training. I’m motivated by a desire for social justice and social inclusion. Our apprenticeship scheme is important to me because apprentices have lived experience, it brings so much to our organisation. I think it’s key to our organisation that there are people at the heart of it who understand why it should be that way.
I’ve also been a mentee. I’ve had a mentor at this organisation which I really benefitted from. It really gave me time to think and challenged me so then being a mentor is quite nice because it’s giving something back.
It’s a huge privilege being a mentor. The two people I’ve supported have both been young women, women at the start of their career. And so it’s a huge privilege to think I can help somebody on their way, giving the benefit of all my mistakes or things I’ve done wrong, things I’ve done right, to help guide in any way. But at the same time, being able to make mistakes is important. And mentoring provides a space to reflect.
It’s hugely interesting seeing how things work from my mentees’ points of view, their age, the different ways of living, culture and the teams they’re working in. I used to have a mentor because I wanted to connect from my project to the centre and now it’s a way of connecting back to different projects.
I think most people could do with a mentor, somebody to talk things through with.
Being an apprentice or student, or learner, it’s important there’s a space we can make mistakes but that we make them safely and that there’s a safety net around you. Mentoring is part of that safety net and you can challenge people to look at things from a different perspective and I hope that’s what I bring, that’s what I like to think – that safe space for Ella to discuss things so she can be challenged and so that she can learn. She should be able to say anything and know she’s not going to be judged. I think that’s really important.