I have been a volunteer youth mentor with Le Cheile, since May 2011 and found it to be a very rewarding and positive experience. . I originally signed up to the project to try something different and to give something back to the community. It has given me the chance to work with young people that may not have had the same start in life that I was lucky enough to have.
At first, I was apprehensive about being matched with a young person that was going through the courts and justice system. But I found that the training we received and the on-going support and guidance from the project co-ordinator helped me to feel more confident about what I was doing so I found that I quickly settled into the role. What being a youth mentor really means is meeting a young person once a week for a few hours. After a few months of these meetings, I find this feels just like meeting a friend to have chats with, listening to what issues they are facing and offering feedback and guidance in any way that can help. I support and encourage them to make positive lifestyle choices. This could be getting them involved in a local gym or sports club, helping them achieve a goal like getting a drivers licence and learning to drive, doing a cookery class - whatever they are interested in really. I have seen dramatic changes in the young people that I have worked with. Massive changes in self esteem and confidence, which is the basis for making better decisions about their lives.
I would really recommend being a volunteer with Le Cheile. Working with a young person can be very rewarding, and there is lots of support and advice from the Le Cheile to help you feel confident in the role.
According to Helen McCarthy, programme co-ordinator, LeCheile work with young people referred by the Probation Service. These young people would have been before the courts for committing a criminal offence. The judge or the probation officer would feel that the young person may benefit from having a positive role model - someone to guide them and encourage them to achieve their potential.
“Mentoring is about giving a young person options, and showing them that they can achieve things. I see it as helping someone to get their life on a better track, being part of their community in a positive way. If they have to go back to court, it can be a way of showing a judge that they are willing to make changes, if given a chance they can make better decisions than they may have done in the past,” Ms McCarthy said.
“We are currently looking for male and female volunteers in the Kildare, to train with us and act as mentors to a young person. No particular qualifications or experience required. We just looking for people with an interest in helping a young person to make positive changes,” she added. For more info contact Helen on 086 7966441, email firstname.lastname@example.org or log onto www.lecheile.ie.