The first step is to look around you. Do you have regular interaction with a young person who you think might benefit from your support? Can you start to take greater interest and spend a little more time with him/her to see how the relationship develops? In simplest terms, this is what you are aiming for:
- Spending time with them and showing an interest in their life;
- Showing that you sincerely believe in their potential and want them to succeed;
- Providing advice, encouragement and guidance where appropriate.
You don’t need training to cultivate a relationship like this, but you will find the following essential:
- Having good listening skills. Read here for helpful tips.
- Having respect for your mentee. Your relationship should never be judgmental, patronising or pushy.
- Seeing yourself as a ‘connector’ – whether you help them to connect the dots (i.e. help shift their understanding of how something works) or connect them to people, organisations, opportunities or information, ‘connecting’ will be one of the most helpful ways in which you can support them.
The Developmental Relationships Framework from the Search Institute is an excellent resource highlighting principles that should guide your relationship with a young person.
If you want to support a young person around key themes that will help them in their transition from school to education and/or to work, have a look at our easy coaching/mentorship guidelines focusing on 7 key themes here.
If there is a group of you who would like to provide mentoring, perhaps through your church or workplace, then have a look at the Heartline’s Mentorship Guidelines. Note that it is written from a religious perspective. However, its guidelines on mentorship and advice on how to create opportunities for others to become mentors, are excellent and generally applicable.
If you would prefer to become a mentor around a specific aspect (for example tutoring) or under the umbrella of a non-profit organisation that will support you, the following are examples of organisations that are looking for and supporting mentorship as part of their programmes:
- The South African Education and Environment Project (SAEP)
- Young in Prison
- Fetola’s Mentor-hotline
*Please let us know if you know of any other organisations that should be on this list – write to email@example.com.