Billy started volunteering with us during lockdown. This is her story.
Hi I’m Billy and I’m volunteer mentor, in the Door to The Future team.
This means I support young people who are preparing to leave or have recently left the care system. They tend to be 18 to mid-twenties and we help them both emotionally and with the practical nuts and bolts of becoming a fully-fledged adult.
Supporting young people as they leave care is so rewarding, in a multitude of ways. I look forward to our weekly meetings, because we genuinely enjoy each-others company. Almost every time we both gain something from the conversation. My mentee has such a great sense of humour and we laugh all the time. I’m also loving seeing a young adult’s perspective on the world.
Volunteering with The Door has given me a glimpse in to what impact an unstable childhood can have on a young person. And why support for anyone leaving the care system is so critical. It’s clear that they need to know someone is there, someone that can be trusted and will be consistent in their lives; to feel that someone genuinely cares.
It’s amazing to see my mentee growing as a person and seeing that I am making a positive contribution to her life brings me such happiness. That something as simple as listening, asking questions and being a consistent presence, is helping her so much.
It’s not always easy. Mentoring is a journey you take together and it’s certainly a walk and not a run. It can be challenging especially when my mentee says something that I am uncertain how to respond to. In those situations I remember my training and that I don’t need to have all the answers straight away. Sometimes just listening and reassuring is all she needs.
Debbie and Hannah who look after all the Door to The Future volunteers are always on-hand to give me advice and guidance, reassuring me that I approached a conversation well or to sign-post me to additional resources. I feel really well supported by The Door.
I really enjoy volunteering, I meet my mentee about once a week, for a walk or coffee and a chat. We talk about her feelings and mental health while exploring her hopes for the future. Looking ahead when she needs it we might work on job applications or look at benefits and housing.
To start with it was really informal just talking and playing computer games to build rapport and trust. My focus is to provide consistent support and to help her reach her personal goals.
I decided to volunteer because I wanted to use my spare time for something long term in my local community, something that would have a positive impact on young people.
This service The Door provides to care-leavers feels vital. I wonder what paths our young adults lives would take, without the volunteer mentors being available to them.
Their training was so thorough and the ongoing support and volunteer meet-ups are really enjoyable to meet other volunteers and to keep learning how best to support our mentees.
The Door is looking for more people like Billy to join their award winning volunteer team. Either supporting care leavers, young people or their parents. Applicants should be 18 years or older and will need to complete a 6 week training course at the start of their volunteering. Full DBS checks will also be completed.
Find out more about the roles available and download an application form today at https://www.thedoor.org.uk/volunteer or call the team on 01453 756745.
Staying at home in Social Isolation is taking its toll on all of us. Whether you’re a young person struggling with learning at home and missing your friends or a parent trying to juggle the demands of working from home and educating your children, The Door understands where you’re coming from. We are the leading youth charity in Stroud with nearly 30 years experience of supporting young people and their families when times get tough. One of our highly skilled professionals is there for you.
In order to protect the identity of the young person /parent in our stories some details including names and places may have been changed