30 April 2013
Over the past few weeks we have been introducing some of our 13 and 14 year old girls to the process and practice of mentoring on a short peer-mentoring course. Our aim is to be able to offer younger girls some peer mentoring support as they transition from Junior to secondary school.
So far the mentoring course has included role-playing examples of good and bad mentoring, thinking hard about safeguarding, practising global listening and thinking about being purposeful.
Mentoring features heavily in Urban Hope’s work, it’s a chance to get to know young people more, to develop safe and trusting spaces and relationships and to give young people the opportunity to explore things with an adult perspective. The idea comes from the Greek myth “The Odyssey” where an old man called Mentor or rather the goddess Athene disguised as Mentor accompanies the son of Odysseus on a coming of age journey and along the way encourages, advises, challenges and supports him in order to help him grow in self-confidence and esteem. In the same way we aim to walk alongside and occasionally direct orwarn – keeping a weather eye out for danger –, but mostly we listen and are there as a support and encouragement in the midst of life in all its topsy turvyness. And because it’s not forced, it can mean that they don’t ask for help and we don’t get the chance to discuss things with them but have instead to watch at the edge of the road as they navigate the bumps and potholes. But we don’t leave, we don’t walk off – instead we stay there by them just off at the edges so that they know they can always have that support if they wish.
We are encouraged to see that these young women in year 9 are thoughtful, kind and considerate and are looking forward to supporting some of our junior club girls transition into year 7. Our Hope is that in September, we will be seeing some happy and confident year 7 girls settle in well and make good friends in their new schools knowing they have many safe and positive older relationships both inside and outside of school supporting and rooting for them.