Working with young people – opportunities worth looking at

I am a volunteer mentor with On The Level: a Rethink project providing mentoring to young people leaving care, to ease their transition from being “looked after” to living independently.

The nature of the role means it’s something that I rarely blog or tweet about. However, we have monthly training sessions that sometimes cover interesting topics that can be shared, such as how youth mental health services work and drugs awareness training.

Tonight, one of the things that came up was an overview of some of the other youth mentoring projects in the area. I’d heard good things about them before, and it was interesting to hear more about them.

I thought it was worth sharing an overview of two projects in particular that sounds like they are worth looking at. If you live in the Southampton / Winchester area, maybe one of these would be a fun way for you to help make a difference in a young person’s life?

Southampton Independent Visitor Scheme

The role of Independent Visitor is a volunteer who befriends a young person in care (e.g. a young person being looked after by a local authority). They provide support to children who have no (or only infrequent) contact with their family, offering a meaningful long-term relationship and a point of advice and friendship.

They are matched with a young person (who will be aged between 6 and 18) for a year and meet with them one-on-one regularly during this time. This will include organising activities suitable for their young person, but more importantly it involves offering a patient, supportive shoulder to lean on – someone to listen to them and offer encouragement and advice.

It is not a counselling or fostering job, no formal qualifications are required, and there is plenty of support for volunteers. It sounds like a very rewarding thing to do, and something I’d definitely recommend.

For more information, there are contact details on the Southampton City Council website.

Secondary School Mentoring with Solent Skill Quest

Solent Skill Quest place mentors in schools throughout the Southampton, Eastleigh and Winchester areas. Volunteer mentors are matched with a young person in Year 10 or 11 (aged 15/16) who needs a bit of extra support at school.

They meet at the young person’s school for an hour every few weeks, and help support the young person’s personal development. The focus is typically on an area of “soft skills”: such as communication skills, confidence and self esteem, time management and organisational skills, or career knowledge and planning.

Mentors spend time with the young person as a part of their school day every few weeks, to encourage and inspire them. Being an Independent Visitor is more about befriending and emotional support, while this is perhaps more practical – providing additional encouragement and working with the young person.

For more information and an application form, contact the Mentoring Coordinator at enquiries[at]

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