Volunteering has helped me learn about myself

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Last year, Leanne Patrick began volunteering as a mentor for Quarriers, helping a young person from Falkirk who had become isolated due to family circumstances

1st June 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

I’ve always been interested in childhood and adolescent mental health.

For a number of years I was a columnist, often writing about how to lay solid foundations for good mental health in childhood and early years development. More recently, as a mental health nursing student, I have been exploring the concept of developing resilience further down the path, and how that works practically for individuals whose foundations are not so solid.

A good mentor can be a key component of building resilience and this struck me as an opportunity to make a genuine difference to the life of a young person.

I enjoy mentoring very much. I like to think that I’m a consistent and positive presence in the life of the person I help and we are having a lot of fun. We’ve been to a few interesting places so far. We both like to try new things and have similar interests. At Christmas, we took a trip to a market to check out their craft stalls for ideas since we’re both quite crafty and love Christmas.

I’m enjoying getting to know my mentee and having our little adventures. I’m really happy with how things are going and each visit feels very positive.

Leanne Patrick

Leanne Patrick

There has been excellent training and support in the role and invaluable insight into what life looks like for children who are looked after, and the organisations they might be involved with.

It can be a challenge to fit it in with my work and life; I’m a student nurse, a wife and a mum, but this very quickly became a priority for me. I tend to keep a weekend morning or afternoon clear and put a lot of thought into how we can get the most out of that time together.

The role involves supporting the goals of the young person, so my focus is very much on this. I really hope that I can be a positive role model for her and that she looks back on this time as something that helped her to believe in herself and be happy with who she is.

I’ve learned a lot about myself already. I feel that I’m on a journey; I’m very much walking alongside my young person as they move toward their goals and that’s a real privilege - each day brings something new to think about and reflect upon.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend mentoring. I was unsure of what to expect at first, but the training really is excellent so I felt well prepared by the time it came to meeting with prospective mentees.

You’re matched with someone who you connect with and whose personality gels with your own. Other than being compassionate and having time and energy to offer to someone, you don’t need to be a specific sort of person for the role. But, you do need to be prepared to make this person a priority in your life for a time. It’s not a casual role.

Leanne Patrick is a mentor for Quarriers intandem mentoring service, which is part of Scotland’s mentoring programme for young people. It is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by Inspiring Scotland.