Having a ProjectScotland Mentor is helping so much…they support me when I feel like things are getting tough

Posted on June 3, 2020

We are embracing this years’ #VolunteersWeekScot campaign which is all about giving thanks. It’s an opportunity to celebrate all of our amazing volunteers and thank them for inspiring us every day. That includes our rather marvellous mentors who gift their time to ensure our volunteers are supported to shine! 

Our volunteer mentors make a difference all year round, but they have made an enormously positive impact during this pandemic. They have adapted to support even more vulnerable young people and coach them through this challenging time.

This story is about a ProjectScotland mentor and mentee who have kindly shared their experience of lockdown.

Zara Todd, ProjectScotland Mentor – The need for mentoring has never been greater.

“A few months ago when I decided to become a mentor at ProjectScotland I had no idea that in just a few weeks time the process would be transformed from predominantly face-to-face to remote, but I was certainly up for the challenge.

While no one could have predicted the circumstances we currently find ourselves in, the need for mentoring has never been greater, particularly when the circumstances of the pandemic exacerbate many pre-existing issues for young people that ProjectScotland work with.

I was lucky enough to be matched with Katie, in Glasgow. Something which never would have happened prior to lockdown as I am based in Edinburgh. Katie and I hit it off straightaway, partly due to her straight talking in dismay at my limited video calling capabilities. And because when normal has been taken away from you, having someone there to support you as you adjust to your current state of being is appreciated.”

We chatted to Katie about her experience and this is what she told us:

Pictured – Katie

The reason I wanted to get in contact with ProjectScotland is because after I finished my course at the Prince’s Trust I had nothing else to do with my life. I asked my 16 plus to help me get into contact with ProjectScotland because she told me they would help me with my CV and help me apply for jobs and I could have them in my life as long as I needed them.

What’s life like for you at the moment?

My life right now in self-isolation – I speak to my mentor, Zara. I’ve been talking with her three times a week so far. I’ve dyed my hair purple. I have also dyed my mum’s hair and my uncle’s hair. I also drew an Alpaca because I was bored and I’m in love with Alpacas!

I wanted a mentor because I wanted someone to help me apply for jobs and help me with my CV and someone to talk to about what I want to do in my future.

Having a mentor is really good because if you are worried about your future and you don’t know what to do, or even if you know what to do, they can help you.

Katie is also being supported during lockdown by Volunteer Manager, Scott Graham.

Scott and I only met once in person, but since we have been in lockdown Scott and I keep in contact over the phone or over whatsapp. Scott was the one that put me in contact with other people from ProjectScotland who helped me find a mentor.

When this lockdown is over my goal is to try and do a course in the care industry.  Then after I do the course hopefully I can apply for jobs or volunteer to get experience.

Zara

“It has taken longer to build a relationship than I would imagine it does when you’re face to face but also the dynamics have been a bit different. A lot of the things Katie wants and needs from our mentoring relationship just aren’t possible right now because of lockdown but we are finding creative ways to do meaningful engagement and progress development tasks during this time. 

To start with we talked more frequently but for shorter periods of time than perhaps is the ‘norm’ for mentoring at ProjectScotland.

We did 3, twenty minute calls each week where we got to know each other.

A challenge of lockdown is figuring out how to build a routine and sense of purpose. One of the things Katie and I have found helpful, is setting tasks around her own goals and what she would like to get out of mentoring.

The tasks allow Katie to work independently between our catch ups and create some accountability when we speak and an opportunity for Katie to reflect on what she has achieved. I believe the skills Katie is developing will help once lockdown is over.”

I think having a mentor and working with Scott is helping me so much because they both can help me look for courses in the care industry and support me when I feel like things are getting tough.

Katie