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  • Writer's pictureCate Robinson

Mentoring Youth to Ride the Waves of Life

Leaving care is a huge step forward for all young people, especially if they have been living in care for a long period of time. On the up side they have the ability to make their own decisions, manage their life, and create their future, and on the down side they often have no idea where to begin.

It is well documented that for young people to become successful adults (here we define success as having a sense of balance, connection with others, wellbeing and purpose in life) they need to be supported before, during, and after they leave care. This is no great science, when we consider that for our own children there is very rarely an expectation that they will leave home and just "get on with life", completely separate to us. Our children come home for birthdays, Christmas, Sunday dinners, when things go wrong, and when things go right. It is a natural part of family life that when our children leave home, their presence in many ways continues on with the strength of connection that exists fom being part of a family.

Young people who have experiences of living in care quite simply need and deserve the same level of belonging. Unfortunately it is very difficult for councils and organisations to invest in such a long term plan of support. It is indeed in some respects a shame that we have to consider this in terms of "planned support", because belonging is an emotional feeling that is achieved with much more than just "support", it is indeed the result of having the connection of a longstanding relationship.

I have been taught a very important lesson living here in Chile, a lesson on the importance of "acompañamiento", which basically means "to tag along" with someone while they are doing something they need to, or want to do. I am Scottish, I am very independent, I often do things myself, therefore learning the lesson to "acompañar" has been quite new to me. "Will you come to the shop with me?" a friend asks, "will you come to the vets with me?", "will you wait with me? I want to go to the chemist"...the list goes on and I cannot now count the number of times I have gone with someone simply to be with them while they do whatever they need to do. Here in Chile I have learned how important it is to "just be" with someone without seeking to gain anything from the process yourself however, evidently you do gain something, because you gain from giving your time and from strengthening your relationship with that person. I believe that this is a wonderful part of Chilean culture that has much to teach us about how we should be embracing our young people leaving care, being with them to ensure inter-dependence and not just preparing them for independence.

At Wings For Success Coaching and Consultancy I have developed a new service to mentor adolescents and young adults who are at any part in the care journey. This service is aimed at helping these young people gain a different style of being "accompanied" which is accessible, flexible, and different because it is online. You might argue that an online relationship cannot provide the type of relationship that I have been talking about here, and I agree however, I do believe that it is a new way of accompanying a young person which they might find completely relevant, easy to use, meanwhile providing them with a relationship they can rely upon.

My aim is to support young people to find and increase their strengths, improve their 'stickability' in education, training, and work, meanwhile helping them to negotiate the choppy sea of relationships, achieve goals, and maintain better wellbeing.

If you have a young person who may benefit from this type of service, then get in touch today at to arrange a consultation.

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