****Mentoring during the COVID19 situation****

We want to continue to offer emotional support to our mentees during the current crisis, whilst it is physically possible for our staff and volunteers to do so, bearing in mind any health vulnerabilities we have.

Update: 04/01/21

Regular changes to lockdown and tier restrictions mean we need to keep changing the ways that we meet young people, but we are doing our best to maintain relationships and to offer continuous support. Our mentors are working within our Covid19 risk assessment and guidance.

In the current lockdown restrictions we are:-

  • Meeting in person where we can, this is generally outside, and in public spaces
  • Meeting virtually through video calls
  • Offering phone calls, emails or even letter writing where suitable

Where schools allow it, and our mentors feel comfortable doing so, some of our mentors are meeting 1:1 in schools and others are meeting  1:1 in community buildings.

To find out more about our Mentoring Project please watch this short video:

*Read our latest Mentoring Impact Report here….Mentoring Impact WAM Youth 2018

“Pupils speak with pride about their involvement in ‘WAM’, a local initiative that mentors young people, challenges discrimination and insists that, ‘We All Matter’. ”
Ofsted Report, Winchcombe School Dec 2018

“Cleeve School has worked with WAM for over three years now and at all times have found their service highly skilled, professional and completely dedicated to the betterment of each individual student referred to them.  Their in school mentoring service is excellent and our students  have benefited from the bespoke mentors WAM can offer.  The fact that the mentors come from a variety of professions and backgrounds means that they can fit the right adult to the right student, we have seen excellent results for the students who have had this mentoring over a sustained period of time.”
Kerala Cole, Director of Inclusion at Cleeve School

What is Mentoring?
Our mentoring service provides a child or young person with a trusted adult to spend time with, talk to, work through things. The key principle of our mentoring is the transformative power of safe and positive relationships.  The role of our mentors is simply being there to support a child or young person consistently over a period of around 12 months. This can take different forms depending on the age and needs of the children.  For example some mentors will take their mentees out for hot chocolate and a chat, others will go for bike rides or play other sports. Some will go to the cinema, go for dog walks, visit places of interest or those with younger children might just visit the park or play games. Sometimes the mentoring occurs within school time & at school, other times it’s outside of school.  It is child-led and the emphasis is on building the relationship, not working through programmes or rigid targets although we do regularly review progress to ensure the child’s needs are being met.

Parental involvement

In order for mentoring to be safe for both our mentors and the young people, we require some level of parental involvement in the mentoring process. Usually this involves a home visit from Ali, our project manager where the young person and their parents can find out more about what we do and how it all works. From time to time, when meeting in a home is not possible, meeting up happens in another way, e.g. in a park, school or community venue, or via a video call. Parent/carers will need to complete and sign forms to give us the information we need to work safely with their children.

Once we’ve identified a mentor for the young person, the child and the parent/carer are asked if they are happy with the choice of mentor before anything gets set up.

Another meeting happens at the point where we introduce the mentor to the young person. We ask parents to be involved in this so they get to meet the mentor and have the opportunity to feel comfortable with them. We run through how mentoring will work, boundaries around the mentoring relationship and everyone can exchange contact details.

During the mentoring year, we ask mentors to keep in touch with parent/carers so they are ‘in the loop’ with when and where mentoring sessions are happening. Parent/carers of younger children often ask for all of the communication with their child to come via them, which is fine.

Our mentors

Our mentors are trained volunteers who are all DBS checked and recruited via a thorough process of application, references, a 2 ­stage interview and 4 – 6 session training programme.  They come from all walks of life and experiences and faiths and there is a careful matching process between mentee and mentor so that the child will feel most comfortable and understood by their mentor. We are working with children aged between 7 and 17 in and around the Winchcombe, Bishops Cleeve, Tewkesbury & Cheltenham area, and in some of the Cotswold villages.

Christian mentoring 

For young people who have a Christian faith or who have been brought up within a Christian family, we offer a Christian mentoring programme. This runs in the same way as our main mentoring programme but we will endeavour to match the young person with an adult who shares their faith and can encourage them on their faith journey as well as every other aspect of their life.

Referrals

We take referrals from local Schools, Young Carers, Social Services and from young people and parents directly.  We are committed to placing young people’s needs before any programme and to persevering in building positive relationships based on trust and mutual respect. We believe this takes time and that we will see the most benefit to a young person when consistent support over a significant period of time is offered, rather than short term or one off interventions. With this in mind we place a high value on consistency of staff/volunteers and operate with high ratios of staff to young people.

What does it cost?
For the young person it costs nothing! We charge schools and agencies £1100 per year or £92 per month per young person for weekly mentoring for 12 months. We have a limited number of grant funded places on the programme thanks to grants from Gloucestershire Community Foundation and Barnwood Trust however the waiting list for these places is currently 4-8 months.  We are trying to raise enough money through grants and fundraising so that we can offer this service to schools and other organisations without charge, particularly in light of current cuts to school budgets across our area. In previous years our mentoring project has been supported financially by the GCC’s Thriving Communities Fund, Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Fund, Tewkesbury Borough Council, Winchcombe Youth Hub, Winchcombe Rotary Club, Cleeve Hill 41 Club, Encounter Church, Winchcombe and various individuals. We are currently seeking further funding to continue this work.  If this programme is something you would like to support financially, please contact us at info@wamyouth.org.uk.

What do I do next?
If you are young person, parent or carer in the Winchcombe area who would like a mentor for you or your child please contact us. If we are already working with your school or youth centre we will usually encourage you to apply to us through them. If you are a school or other organisation wanting to work with us please contact us. We have a clear process for working with schools and we will send you an information pack. We are always keen to partner with other organisations so if you are a local community group keen to be involved do get in touch! If you are interested in becoming a mentor then contact us and we will arrange a time to meet you and chat this through. Please contact us for more information on info@wamyouth.org.uk or 01242 603678.