THE BLOG
05/11/2013 07:40 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Mentoring Young People

Imagine if - on top of all that - your family is the major problem in your life: you are suffering abuse or neglect- you don't know who you can trust and there is no one to talk to. All your experience tells you that this is what the world is like and - for all you know - will always be like because there is no one to tell you otherwise.

It's not getting any easier being young in this increasingly complex world. Unemployment amongst 16 to 24 year olds remains stubbornly high with nearly a million out of work in the UK. According to the UK's Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies - almost 27% of UK children are either in or at risk of living in poverty and 10% of adolescents are suffering from mental health problems. That, along with a propensity for the popular media to portray young people as a problem - means its not easy being young.

Imagine if - on top of all that - your family is the major problem in your life: you are suffering abuse or neglect- you don't know who you can trust and there is no one to talk to. All your experience tells you that this is what the world is like and - for all you know - will always be like because there is no one to tell you otherwise.

There is some good news - there are people ready to listen to and help young people.

One such person is Raquela Mosquera, a mentor coordinator with the Surrey Care Trust and one of the services they provide is mentoring for young people.

Raquela went to work for them some ten years ago after taking a parenting skills course with them. She had a lot of family problems in her early life and that, combined with dyslexia, meant that she did badly at school. She explained "I was a young teenage rebel - branded a bad kid. If I had, had someone to talk to my life might have taken a different direction. I was so angry and no one asked me why I was so angry.

Since leaving school with no qualifications she has trained with Surrey Care Trust and now trains volunteer mentors and has achieved a foundation degree in teaching.

Raquela trains volunteer mentors with a passion that comes from someone who knows what it is like to be a young person with problems and no one to share them with. "If I had had someone to talk to then my journey in life might have been different"

The role of a mentor is to meet with a young person who has agreed to such help. The mentor and young person have a series of meetings where they get to know each other - the mentor's role is to work with them to set achievable goals - this could be to keep a record of how things effect them - what makes them angry or what makes them self-harm. It can be about getting them involved in other activities or accompanying them on particular meetings to give them support.

A typical case was a teenage girl whose parents have divorced and her mother, an alcoholic, does not live with them. Even when they might meet in the street her mother ignores her. The teenager tended to stay in her room and had no friends to share problems with.

Raquela starting meeting with her; listening to her and making plans to change her outlook on the future and to encourage her to take part in life again.

This particular young lady choose to receive some counselling as a result of advice she received from her mentor.

Most of us need a little bit of help from time to time - this is even more important when you are young and lack the experience in life that would tell you that things do get better or the experience to know how to get through problems and - most of all - when you don't have someone to talk to.