I’m so lucky to be doing a job I love

I’ve been the project co-ordinator on our Time Together project, which recruits and trains volunteers as mentors to support refugees and asylum seekers in the West Midlands, coming up to 12 months now and the project has another 12 months to go until completion.  Nothing could prepare me for the overwhelming sense of job satisfaction I feel – I’m immensely lucky to be doing a job I love. 

Why do I love my job?  Mainly it’s the fantastic people who participate and volunteer on Time Together.  Both our volunteers and participants need to be committed to having an open mind, respect each another and be willing to meet up five hours a month for six months.  How our matched partners spend their time with each other is really up to them, although we encourage our mentees to think about areas of their lives they might like to improve, their hopes and aspirations.  Our volunteers are there to help empower participants to achieve and progress within the six-month timeframe. 

All our volunteers complete a full day of training and are DBS checked before being matched to their partner.  We have strict boundaries and safeguarding policies in place to protect both parties throughout the process.  Sometimes at the first match meeting things can be a little socially awkward.  However I’m there to break the ice and get the conversation flowing before I leave them to get know each other.  After that first meeting I call both parties to see how things went and make sure their next meeting is set up, and it’s usually not long before our volunteers and participants build a strong bond. A vitally important aspect of the project is regular communication between the volunteer, participant and the project co-ordinator. 

It is the project co-ordinator’s job to support and guide volunteers through the process and any difficult situations and challenges they may face and I receive regular updates on how the mentoring relationship is going.

Two-thirds of the way through I attend a mentoring session to remind our pairs that the end of the six-month relationship is on the horizon.  It is at this point that I get a warm fuzzy feeling inside.  The bonds formed between our volunteers and participants are incredibly heart-warming to see.  When it comes to the final mentoring session at the end of the six months it really is remarkable to see the positive difference the mentoring sessions have made to lives of our participants and also how much our volunteers gain from the experience too.  That’s one of the reasons why six of our volunteers are mentoring a second time around.

One of those volunteers, Sue, says: "I would recommend and do recommend Time Together to friends to volunteer on this project.  It enables both mentee and mentor to share experiences and listen to issues that are concerning my mentee.  The refresher training course was extremely valuable not only for content but meeting other mentors". 

We are currently recruiting volunteer mentors across West Midlands in Coventry, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Tipton and Walsall.  If you would like to know more and get involved in Time Together, do get in touch with Siân on 07842 811 459 or email sian@timebank.org.uk