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About the programme
Mentors are “friends with purpose” who support families in the area by setting and helping them to achieve life goals. Our mentors are members of St Mary’s and Sale West Church who are trained to use their own life skills, knowledge and experience coupled with a family’s strengths to help the family to flourish.
mentoringInterview with Claire*
Single mum, Claire, was studying and looking after her child on her own when she joined the mentoring programme.  Her daughter had recently started school and was doing well; however, there were things that were hard work at home which Claire really wanted to get sorted out e.g. getting her daughter to go to bed on her own at night.
Claire was matched with two mentors, who were experienced mothers and grandmothers, and who between them had more than 70 years of parenting experience!
I asked Claire about her experiences of the programme so far:
“It has been very helpful and actually exciting. I love seeing my mentors. They come every week; they are very reliable. It feels like they are there for you and they are great with my daughter; if she is there, they get her involved. They are very diplomatic and encourage her.
“The mentors are so lovely to talk to. They listen and want to know about how things have been and want to help. They don’t tell me what to do but we talk about my goals and they encourage me and give me ideas I might like to try. They offer alternatives and ask me what I’d like and if things don’t work we try something else. They talk about how they did things with their children. They are wonderful ladies! I feel relaxed and supported.
“I’ve already achieved the goals we set in September and I’m moving onto a new goal of stopping smoking.  I now encourage my daughter to express herself and I have stopped saying, “No” to her and explain myself.  I am spending more time with my daughter and she’s going to bed at night which is brilliant!”
I then asked the mentors about their experiences of being mentors:
We wanted to be mentors so that we could support local families who needed somebody to talk to about making changes in their lives so that everyday life was more manageable. Community mentoring felt like a really worthwhile project.
One of the mentors expressed that they felt an affinity with parents of young children, as this can be a difficult time and an extra bit of support and guidance can really make a difference.  
They are enjoying mentoring, and said that the training was very useful and prepared them for the role – it was thorough, interesting and well presented. The whole process of matching mentors with a family is very well-organised which makes meeting the family a natural process.
They have enjoyed meeting with Claire and building a relationship with her. They expressed how lovely it is to see Claire with her daughter - their close, loving relationship - and knowing that their meetings are useful for her. A real highlight has been seeing Claire overcome issues that had been a concern to her.
The mentors like mentoring as a pair because they feel supported by their partner mentor. They are also supported by a Co-ordinator and through team meetings with other mentors, where good practice is shared. The programme is validated by a university and is closely monitored.
(*note: names have been changed to maintain confidentiality)
Carol Dodgson
Children and Families Worker, Sale West

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