I really enjoyed mentoring and learnt so much about myself in the process

Emma decided she’d like a mentor at the point of transitioning from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to adult services, as she felt it would help to have someone support her through this change.

She had been out of education for two years when she was referred to our mentoring project The Switch and her only goal at that point was to get out of the house more. We matched Emma to Sam, a young woman who was studying for a post-graduate degree in mental health and wanted to gain some hands on experience in the field, whilst doing something rewarding with her spare time.

In the first few months of the mentoring relationship they both got used to spending time with someone new. Eventually, however, things settled into a routine and the pair started to explore London, making the most of all the city had to offer. They took trips to Borough market, walks down the Thames, outings to musicals and on one occasion attended a poetry reading, something that Emma would have never done previously, but actually really enjoyed. They also spent quite a bit of time visiting cafes for a chat and Emma became used to confiding in someone about her day to day issues.

Twelve months down the line and at the end of her mentoring experience, Emma is a transformed young woman. Not only has she achieved her initial goal of leaving the house more, she has also completed a year at college with the encouragement of her mentor and found a job as a teaching assistant. She has also started to initiate contact with Sam, something which would have been unheard of at the beginning of the relationship. In all, she is happy, confident and chatty. Emma says she’d advise other young people just to ‘give it a go’ and be ‘open minded and willing to try new things’ with a mentor.

Reflecting on the volunteering, Sam feels that she has had an equally positive experience. She says "The Switch took their time matching me with someone to make sure we would click and they did a great job - we had plenty of common interests and got on right away. I really enjoyed meeting up with Emma and learned so much about myself in the process. Hopefully she did too and will continue to thrive. I would highly recommend the experience.’’