A North Norfolk-based charity is looking for more volunteers to come forward to become mentors for young people with disabilities.
For 45 years, Break has been working in various ways across West Norfolk, and the rest of East Anglia to support children, young people and families in need.
The charity’s mentoring service is just one branch of their work and offers young people with disabilities the opportunity to spend time one-to-one with their volunteer.
Laura Gaff, mentoring co-ordinator, said: “As part of the service, we are looking for committed individuals who have a few hours spare every couple of weeks.
“Over a longer period of time the volunteers will help to support young carers, young people with disabilities, those in care or moving on to independence across the area.”
The time the youngsters spend with their mentors is invaluable, offering them a listening ear or a chance to get out and socialise.
Laura said: “We hope that our young people gain a positive and trusting relationship which helps to increase the young person’s self-confidence and self-esteem helping them to achieve their personal goals. Our young people have experienced various difficulties in their lives and having the support of a mentor can make a real difference.”
She added: The kind of volunteers we have are people who are able to relate to young people, as well as inspiring, encouraging and motivating them.
“They must be friendly and patient, with a good sense of humour, and they must never judge. They genuinely care about the young people and are committed to having a positive impact on their lives.”
Mentors are carefully recruited, going through a formal application, training programme and interviews before being paired up, sometimes several months or a year later.
Ongoing training and regular supervision is also provided to give volunteers extra support and to ensure the safety of the young people.
A carer of one young person who used the mentoring service said: “The care in matching the young people with the mentors has been impeccable.
“We just want him to enjoy other people’s company and do young things that young people do while learning life skills from his mentor. I also think the mentors gain so much from our young people.”
If you are interested in volunteering or finding out more about the mentoring service, contact Laura Gaff on 07887 538918, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Or go online to www. break-charity.org for further information about the charity and the various programmes and services available in the area. Volunteering and job opportunities are also listed.
Lesley Tippett, 59, of Gaywood, first applied to be a volunteer two-and-a-half years ago after spotting an advert in the newspaper.
She said: “A year later, I was paired up with a girl with disabilities. They don’t rush, they really take their time and make sure you are paired up with the right person because it is a long-term commitment.
“We meet once a month and go walking and for food. I probably get more out of it than she does – it’s very rewarding and I hope I’ll still be in her life in the years to come.
“You get a great grounding in medical knowledge and counselling and we have a lot of support throughout our time as a mentor.
“There’s an awful lot out there that can affect children now – we never had the problems children have now. My children and grandchildren have all had a good life and I want to do what I can to give that to someone else.”