Matching a parent with a Mentor is often a longer process that you might think. Shona, The Door’s Family Support Team Leader, talks here about why that match is so important.
“That first spark of hope we can give usually shows itself during the initial assessment meeting. It takes courage for anyone to speak to someone about what they are going through and this is often the first time they hear that story out loud. It can be at that point that a parent realises that the hope they felt has a pretty good chance of becoming a reality.
It’s also in that initial meeting that we start to consider together what that support might look like and that could take the shape of being matched with one of our incredible volunteers who will meet with them regularly and take those next steps right alongside them.
The most exciting part for me is when you get that match between parent and mentor just right. When I come away from a matching with the confidence that progress is possible because I’ve seen a connection between the new mentor and mentee. It’s pretty amazing to see.
Being able to put together people that can work well together is imperative. Whether it’s a mentor with silent strength for a panicking parent, a mentor to hold fast to when life feels chaotic or a mentor that can keep giving you those extra little pushes to move forwards, we want to meet the need of each parent in their unique situation.
Even as we are training a new group of volunteer mentors, we are getting to know their strengths and skills so that we can match them with those who will benefit best from all they bring to the team.
By taking the time to get to know the people on both sides of the mentoring relationship we can make the best matches possible. We support them both as individuals and as a partnership throughout their time together, providing regular reviews and check in with The Door staff team for the mentees and monthly group sessions for the volunteers (and of course we are only ever a phone call away).
As with everything that grows, a mentoring relationship takes time to root. Our initial support is there like a stick holding up a new tree, just enough support to let them grow on their own, but strong enough to hold them up should the winds blow. Once a tree is established, it naturally stands on it’s own.
Mentoring relationships are designed to end at some point, however long that takes. When they do, we hold a closing meeting together, which is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all the parent has achieved but we never say goodbye. This isn’t a ‘one time only’ deal – we are here whenever a parent needs us and it’s important that they know the door is never closed.
At one of those meetings recently, I asked what a parent had got from her time with her mentor. She said ‘I always knew that you were rooting for me. You want me to do well. I feel more confident and emotionally I am stronger. I was very closed at the beginning, but you have restored my faith and trust that people will do what they say.’
At The Door, our family support team are often part of a wider group of services who might be working with an individual or family. For parents, within that team, our 1:1 help is their opportunity to benefit from support that’s just for them. Time and space to offload. Time and space to make sense of thoughts. Time and space to breathe. Their mentor is there to sustain them individually, and we know what an incredible difference that can make.”
“Asking for help isn’t giving up.” said the horse “It’s refusing to give up.” Charlie Mackesy
The Door’s Family Support Service relies on generous donations to provide the best support we can for families in need. If you feel you can contribute financially towards this work we would love it if you could make a one off or repeat donation towards our work. All donations will be used where they are most needed. To donate online visit thedoor.org.uk/donate or call 01453 756745 for more information.