LifeLine Projects

Mentoring: the key to releasing agents for change

Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.

When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to have a stable family and caring extended family that provided me the guidance and support that I needed. Like most children, I learnt by observing adults and then imitating them, particularly the ones that were role models to me.

I had an endless curiosity—when I wanted answers, I asked why it happened, or how it worked. Sometimes, I got the answers, and other times, I didn’t. Although I learnt a lot from observing, from listening to conversations that my parents had, I mainly learnt from the discussions I was involved in. Even though I didn’t know it, my knowledge was limited, and my parents sent me to school to extend my learning.

You hear so many parents saying that they’d like their children to have a better life and future than what they could provide. They acknowledge they need help to achieve this and rely on the education system and the community to help support them. But it doesn’t help parents when schools put so much emphasis on their children’s school exam results and behaviour. Parents view these things as an indicator of their children’s future success. This makes them anxious—no parent wants their child to be labelled a failure from such an early age.

I had a friend that didn’t do well at school. He misbehaved and failed most of his exams—was held back a year. Being “a disappointment” was something that could have stuck with him throughout his life. But he’s now a father of two and has a job he enjoys—in the bigger picture, he’s a success. So, how did he manage this? He found a mentor that believed in him, who helped him grow and made him realise he was hanging onto outdated ideas and labels from his childhood. He was one of the lucky ones.

At LifeLine, we help facilitate change in the lives of the young people we serve through our mentorship programmes. Our mentors provide genuine and compassionate role-models that share their life experiences. They’re not judgemental—they offer realistic advice and guidance about reaching specific goals that the young people aim for. They provide answers to their questions, they actively listen, they help them find solutions to their problems, and they encourage them to act. They help young people feel a sense of achievement, and they help them see themselves as leaders. They encourage them to reflect, and they help them to learn from their mistakes. They make them realise the skills they already have, and they encourage them to be open to new ideas.

As Socrates said, the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

Mentoring is about the belief that not only we can change, but that we have the power to make change happen.

What makes a good mentor?

They should be approachable and relatable, open and dynamic. The people we meet come in all shapes and sizes. And we have to meet them where they are and not expect them to come to us.

Serea, Youth Development Worker and Outreach Coordinator

Listening and compassion is a must. They should be able to speak truth to power and be brave alongside the young people.

Ruth, Head of Young People’s Services

They need to be fair in judgement, someone who both listens and allows the mentee to be heard.

Royston, Youth Development Worker and Parent Champion Coordinator

A good mentor needs energy, enthusiasm, and empathy—because young people need to be heard.

Alex, Lead Youth Development Worker

A good mentor is a good listener—someone who is friendly, trustworthy and reliable. These things matter because together they will help lift someone up who doesn’t have access to these qualities in their regular life.

Stephen, Youth Development Worker

My seven top tips for mentoring

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Nathan Singleton

Chief Executive Officer
Nathan is passionate about improving the lives of young people and their families. Nathan draws from the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” He believes community is the component that is missing in the modern western society and the key component that would benefit young people. Nathan believes we are there, not just to help others but to support them to become agents of change within their communities.

These articles may contain testimonials by LifeLine staff members and service users of our programmes and/or services. These testimonials reflect the real-life experiences and opinions of such staff members/service users. However, the experiences are personal to those staff members/service users and may not necessarily be representative of all staff members/service users of our programmes and/or services. We do not claim, and you should not assume, that all staff members/service users will have the same experiences. Individual results may vary.

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The views and opinions contained in the testimonials belong solely to the individual user and do not reflect our views and opinions. Staff members/service users are not paid or otherwise compensated for their testimonials.



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