Mary’s mum knocked on our door one day in June 2014 in desperation – she had Mary with her who looked at the ground, did not speak and was shaking with anxiety. Mary’s mum told me she did not know who else to turn to, but she just needed help with her daughter.
Mary was 22 at the time and had suffered from anxiety since she was young. This held her back at school and she left at 16 with no qualifications. She could not face going to college, so applied for several jobs but got so anxious she could not go for interviews. She was also anxious about being on job seekers allowance, so had been at home for the past 6 years, socially isolated and stuck. She had no friends and spent much of her time on social networking sites. She no longer went out without her mother.
We assessed Mary as suitable for a mentor and matched her in July with Ruth. They hit it off straight away and started meeting regularly. Ruth was very patient with Anna, understanding her anxiety and not pushing her too much.
At the first review in October 2014 Mary said she was pleased to have somebody to talk to about how she felt and that she had begun to understand that she set goals too high for herself and that she should take “baby steps” forward. She was talking of starting to look for work again.
At our second review in February 2015, Mary was now attending our Drop In frequently – was doing the peer mentoring training and had started making more friends. She had also been to visit a friend in Bristol on the bus by herself. She set further goals for herself of wanting to do more walking, lose weight and develop her faith.
In July when we did our third review, Mary was completing a college application, had become much more confident and felt more able to speak to people. Both Ruth and Mary decided they would put the mentoring into “wind down” ie start to meet less frequently.
We met together in September 2015 to close the mentoring completely. Mary was a changed young woman – she looked bright and full of life. She was starting a college course. She said:
“mentoring helped save my life. I would not have achieved half the things I wanted to achieve without my mentor there, my anxiety would have got the better of me. My mentor helped me to find myself again.”
Ruth had attended Mary’s baptism the previous week.