Volunteering has a positive impact not just on our organisation and the people we support, but on our volunteers too. Our mentoring project is supporting Young Carers in Merton aged 10-17 to achieve their goals and raise their aspirations. Already, volunteer mentors are discovering that they are gaining as much from the project as their mentees.

"I went in with the desire to make the mentees lives easier and become a distant big brother, but the experience has been even more than that; I’m often finding myself learning new things about the world through a child’s eyes."

Since the scheme began in January, several Young Carers are now benefiting from one-to-one support and really value the role mentors are playing in their lives. But there’s a long waiting list and the project is reliant on our trained volunteers to enable as many youngsters as possible to take part. If you are a good listener, reliable and empathetic and able to commit to the project for a minimum of six months, this is a great opportunity to discover the rewards of volunteering.

Besides gaining valuable experience working with some of the most remarkable young people in Merton, you will receive free training in mentoring and child protection, and you’ll have the ongoing support of Carla, our mentoring coordinator and qualified social worker.

‘It’s a truly rewarding, fun and educational opportunity that I’d encourage more adults to do, I look forward to seeing my mentee grow.' 

‘I really like it [mentoring], I feel like [my mentor] knows me well now...she just understands me, I don’t always have to explain things so much’

As with all our projects since the pandemic, we’ve had to adapt so when the first cohort of young carers began working with their new mentors it was online. Project coordinator Carla, says, “Mentors have been incredibly resourceful and creative in finding ways to ensure their mentees get value from their sessions. Mentor and mentees have enjoyed cooking a Mother’s Day meal, mindful colouring, breathwork and therapeutic art sessions. As restrictions lift, we hope it will soon be possible for mentors and mentees to meet in person.”

‘Giving a Young Carer time that is just for them and watching them come to life is so fulfilling’.

‘Me and [and my mentor] talk about loads of stuff and sometimes if something is on my mind or I’m worried I know I can tell him that too. He ordered me the new Harry Potter book to help my reading because Harry Potter is my favourite and I’ve loved the cooking sessions, they’ve been my favourite so far.’

Everybody benefits, including the Young Carers’ parents:

'We love it, it’s not only good for my son but it’s been good for me too. To see him have a positive role model is a relief, it used to be something I worried about. And I even got a Mother’s Day meal!'

'She looks forward to her sessions every week, they’re her happy place at the end of the week. She always comes out of them happier than she went in.'

We have been incredibly impressed by the skills and knowledge of our mentoring volunteers some of whom have been young carers themselves. Between them our volunteers bring a wide range of expertise and experience from qualified therapist, child protection social worker and a police officer, to marketing manager from the Football Association with a fantastic network of contacts within media sport and music.  But the most valuable quality in our mentors is commitment.  We are looking for volunteers who are prepared to invest their time and energy into building a positive relationship with their mentee. If you'd like to mentor a Young Carer please get in touch.

 "I’d give it 99 out of 100, it would be 100 if it could be for longer." Young Carer

To volunteer as a mentor, contact [email protected].

Find more information about the project here

#VolunteersWeek

Further reading:

Why Young Carers are paying the price for caring

What makes a young person a Young Carer