Our four-day rigorous training tells us that a vulnerable child is only one supportive adult away from a life that works, but for those of us lucky enough to come from a secure family environment, this seems like a “given”. However, for many of the young people that PROMISE supports this is not the case.
My young lad is fourteen, although he looks about twelve due to his slight stature and comes from a single parent family of Mum and four siblings which is chaotic and loud.
He doesn’t eat or sleep enough. He hates school and was referred to PROMISEworks by his school about three years ago due to his lack of engagement and feeling suicidal. He also had some very bad luck as his first mentor died suddenly and due to the pandemic, he was unable to gain any proper closure on their relationship, so when I met his he was quite “low”.
Being matched with me must have been very strange for this young man, but after a nervous start for both of us, we have over the last eight months of various levels of COVID regulations, found our relationship growing stronger and stronger.
On a weekly basis, we play golf together, make garden furniture together, play blackjack well and cribbage badly together, we talk about school and his future, go for walks and drive arounds – usually to collect or drop off furniture, and like most youngsters the odd dip into McDonalds! The word together is important!
Before writing this piece, I asked my lad what having a mentor meant to him. In no particular order we got:
someone to do nice things with; chat about stuff; go places; someone to meet up regularly with; have a laugh; and beat at blackjack. We are each comfortable in our company so that we can now tease each other about our own foibles – my quite strong Somerset accent and his propensity for fake rage when things don’t go quite to plan.