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February 2023 Mentor of the month

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Words from Hilary

​"When I retired early in 2019 it was always my intention to undertake some sort of voluntary work, however, I wanted to find something that I could work one on one with someone and it took me a little time to find AJA. I have enjoyed being a part of something that makes a difference and the training has been invaluable.

What I like about AJA is that it works with a largely forgotten group, i.e. young ladies who for one reason or another need a little bit of support that is not available within mainstream service provision. The idea is simple, find girls who need support and then find women who have a bit of time to give on a regular basis to make a difference. So many of these girls are in danger of slipping through the cracks or are simply perceived as being “ naughty” without anyone bothering to look at why. Teenage girls nowadays are under contestant pressure to be “cool” to wear the "right clothes" and hang out with the "right people". There is too much emphasis on these and that in itself seems to bring about a lack of self confidence in so many of these girls and young women. As a middle aged mother of 2 I have had a number of years experience of dealing with teenagers, mine have been challenging enough, and this has helped me to understand better the issues that my mentees face and adapt the experiences that I have had to help them deal with the circumstances that arise on a day to day basis.

I currently mentor 2 girls, one of whom has recently left care and my work with her is focused on supporting her in living more independently and taking responsibility for her home as well as undertaking training so that she may move into work within her chosen area.  The challenge is getting her to be more proactive, and it gives me great pleasure to watch her grow in confidence in her dealings with her landlord and how proud she is of her flat. Our most recent success is undertaking a Health and Safety course and passing it.  She is now much more confident in her own ability to get a job. The second is younger and still at school and dealing on a day to day basis with the peculiarities of forming friendships. She is hoping to go to University and we have spent lots of time talking about what that might be like, and mulling over different courses that she is interested in.  When I first started working with her she didn’t smile or laugh and now not only does she do both but she is quite confident to take the Mickey out of me on a regular basis.

Watching the changes to both girls in the time I have worked with them gives me great pleasure, I have long felt that “ if everyone does a little bit then an awful lot gets done,” and this certainly does seem to be true within the AJA mentoring programme"

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