In his own words, Liam Lauder, a volunteer mentor at the TCA, shares his experience of mentoring a young person and the positive impact that it can have.
The decision to become a mentor was one that initially filled me with excitement, but also nerves at the prospect of meeting a young person. Not having children myself, I realised that it had been quite a long time since I had actually interacted with a 12 year old!
The initial process of getting to know a young person can be a tentative and daunting one, as you are balancing the responsibility of wanting to be a positive role model with also wanting to be fun, approachable and interesting.
However, with patience, persistence and a positive approach I was able to break through any initial barriers that the young person had in order to find common interests and good rapport. Once this was established I found it quite easy to organise our time together and have interesting conversations, as well as being able to pay an interest in the things that are important to him, such as family or school.
Having spent most of the year while at university as well, I soon reached the stage of looking forward to our weekly meetings as a time to socialise and enjoy ourselves rather than worry about any nervousness or potential problems.
I believe the mentoring scheme offers an opportunity to share fun and interesting experiences with a young person and that being a positive role model actually becomes a symptom of the enjoyment naturally rather than a burdening sense of responsibility.
There is a sense of sadness that this positive relationship is coming to an end, but that is overridden by feelings of satisfaction when realising that the process of getting to know the young person and participating in social activities will help him to become more confident when engaging with similar situations in his future.
Ultimately, the choice to become a mentor has been one that has been nothing but beneficial for me in terms of learning new experiences and simply having fun.