I chose to volunteer when I came back from travelling as I did not want to just get stuck back into the mundane lifestyle of 9-5 office work. I wanted to continue to learn, explore and share with everyone I encounter and thought the mentoring project would be a good way to do this and also give back. 

For me, school and family life was not easy and it was another leading factor to me choosing the mentoring project as the best way to give back my time and learning. I had a lot going on within my family unit and life, I was a very quiet child and then got into fights in high school following on from ongoing bullying and struggling to deal with changes and issues at home. 

At the time they called it anger management (it was the 90s/early 2000s haha) but I saw a lady for just over a year whilst I was in high school and she was my safe place to go, my quiet space to think, feel, reflect and have fun and just be me. She was my person just for me. In all honesty she changed my life! She helped me complete my schooling as I playing truant a lot before this, she helped me work on my self-worth and just general understanding my world. 

I aspire to be like this lady one day, and did evening studies from 2013-2015 to work on this dream, but again sadly life got in the way and my own lack of self-confidence to take it to the next level.

When I started the mentoring I didn’t really know what to expect, how it would actually be one on one with a child within the mentoring frame work and so on. 

But now on reflection a year later I would say it not only helped Ben with his transition and within himself I think it also helped me an awful lot. It has reminded me that you can just do things because they are fun and you enjoy them you don’t necessarily need to be good at it (as I was very bad at some of the games haha) it taught me a lot about my own worries and dreams helping another with theirs. This led me to decide to go back into my studies now finally starting a BA honours degree in therapeutic psychology. It reminded me that time is one of the best gifts you can give someone else and also to yourself. (to have fun, do what you enjoy, do what you need to, and do what you dream of and so on)

It also helped highlight some areas that I was also lacking in; for instance I sat and would talk with Ben about making new friends and about changes happening in life and the new school etc. but I then found myself within a new environment with a totally new schedule and I’ll be honest I did think at times how the hell can I be helping talk to someone else about these things and not even be working on these same things myself. This helped me change my own perspective and way of being within my new university environment I chucked myself into more social environments and learnt to just smile and talk and made friends.

Since starting the mentoring I have found my love of the theatre again and also from Ben as he helped me re-experience the essence of not having a plan (something which I lost sadly after returning back from my travels) – that you don’t need to have a plan or destination you can just hop on and hop off to explore anywhere. (And trust me I have seen a lot of London now thanks to this haha)

I think the mentoring project is a good idea for the young people as I can now see first-hand what help it can be, and I also know from my own experience the lasting effects that even this short years work can have on an individual.  I would encourage anyone that I know to get involved in this project or similar to help our younger generation grow into whole people, and also I think we as adults can learn as much from them as they can learn from us.

A lot of the time adult life can get in the way, but working with young people can help bring back that inner child within you that also loves to play, draw, run, throw a ball, and make a mess whatever it may be. 

 

I won’t lie and say it hasn’t been hard to juggle at times alongside working hours, a social life and now with studies as well but don’t laugh when I say this but it has been one of the best decisions of my life to mentor with Jigsaw (closely alongside that of solo travelling).

Seeing Ben grow and change from the quiet young boy in Primary school, all nervous and shy coming into our first sessions, to seeing him flourish into this cheeky more confident young man at Secondary school, teaching me (and tricking me) with French words in hangman and having friends wait for him to go home after the sessions and go walking down the hill together.

I never chose to do this for thanks but I will also briefly just add that the warmth I felt from his family unit that evening dropping him home and saying goodbye was also such a warming feeling of appreciation. I could tell that little one hour a week had meant a lot to not just to Ben but also his mum and rest of the family. 

I guess the biggest moral in all this that I learnt it that it really is the little things that matter the most in big scheme of things we call life.

 

*Names have been changed*