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My Mentoring Journey’s End

As my social media feeds fill up with the faces of embarrassed, frightened and smiling faces as the back to school frenzy gets underway, my year of mentoring with The Girls’ Network  is coming to an end.

It feels a bit weird.  As most people are starting something new I am finishing.

When I began mentoring back in January I remember worrying that I wouldn’t be of much use.  I don’t have children and my lovely nieces and nephews are either in their last year of university, or are successfully making their own way in the world.  

I don’t have much contact with teenagers.  Will I be too out of touch? Do I really understand the pressures they face?  Can I remember being that age?

I had little knowledge of why my mentee was on the programme, or why we had been matched.  With the other mentoring I do I know why we are meeting.

At our first meeting I was really nervous and I came a way half expecting my mentee to drop out, or not turn up for the next session.  But as the months went on we made a connection, shared our experiences, fears, failures and successes.

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

We even made it on to the local news in a piece about The Girls’ Network.

It was our last meeting this week and we have a good discussion around how we had found our few months together.  What we learned and liked. Where our strengths and improvement areas lie. I had been of use and made a difference in my mentee’s life.  How much we had laughed and enjoyed the sessions each month. also what we learned from each other and from the mentoring process.

As we said goodbye I realised that I would miss our meetings.  On the drive home I wasn’t sure if I would want to mentor again at this stage.  Would I get it right next time? Would I like my next mentee as much? Would I be asked to continue?

When I got home an email came from The Girls’ Network talking about the next cohort and hoping we would sign up again.  

I have learned a lot from this experience – from improving my  communication and organisational skills, through to realising that although a lot has changed since I was a teenager, a lot of things haven’t.  And that is where I can listen, challenge and provide support and guidance.

Mentoring Journey

I have recently become a mentor through The Girls Network.  This involves mentoring girls from the least advantaged communities to inspire them and provide them with a role model.

I signed up for this after coming across The Girls Network through a networking group I attend.  It seemed like a good idea – sharing my experiences to help girls become aware or, and achieve (hopefully), their full potential.  I currently mentor new business owners, so thought that this would be a good challenge, but something not entirely alien to me.

One matched with my Mentee I was excited at beginning our journey, but as the meeting grew closer I began to have doubts.  I don’t have children, and apart from my gorgeous nieces and nephews, I have no experience of dealing with teenagers.

Would I be able to connect with my mentee?  How will I inspire a teenager?

I did all my prep for the first meeting and turned up early, worried that my mentee would not turn up, or had the wrong day in her diary. Even though I had confirmed the meeting with her the day before. I was so nervous!


Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

My mentee arrived and we sat down with our coffees, exchanging p;olive conversation.  I broke the ice by saying it was my first time at mentoring and that we are probably as nervous as each other about the meeting and what to expect.  That’s seemed to do the trick. We had a good meeting, set some actions around issues she was encountering and booked our next meeting.

I felt good afterwards.  It had gone well. I can (at this stage) talk to a teenager. She was lovely to talk to and seemed open to ideas on how to deal with certain aspects of her life.  

Now all I need to do is repeat this again at our next meeting, and hope it wasn’t beginners luck.

If you are interested in mentoring contact The Girls Network

Charity Collection

Once a year I do a Street Collection for a charity I am involved with.


This involves turning up on a Saturday in my local town centre and standing still for as long as I have volunteered for.  I also have to be polite and welcoming to all the passers by.


Standing still in a busy shopping area can be quite hazardous, and has become more so over the years.  With so many people engrossed in their phones, or talking to others, you often get walked into.


For my first collection I was very nervous.   How will people react? Will I collect any money?  Will I remember all the rules (no shaking the tin, no heckling the public, stand the correct distance apart from other collectors….). Will I be warm enough? Can I stand for that long?

Donating Money To Charity


Collecting can be a lonely time.  Lots of people milling around you but very little contact with them.  Crowds tend to come and go, and towards the end of lunch time the area can become almost desolate of people.  Still,  you sand there in the hope that someone will come by – and even if they give you a smile that can be as encouraging as getting a donation as well.


Fifteen years later I now treat these sessions as a time to switch off and people watch.  Sometimes I feel like I am on one of the programs where the person stands still and a lot of activity happens around them.  I get to see the public at its best, and worst.


Fathers sharing precious moments with their children whilst mum is off elsewhere. Children throwing tantrums. Couples arguing. Happy people. Distressed people. It is also a chance to catch up on the latest fashions – spotting the best dressed and giving a mental prize for the best and worst dressed person you see.  


The strangest thing about doing a street collection is people’s’ reaction to you.  Some give money just because you are there collecting, even though they have no idea who you are collecting for.  Some assume from how you are dressed and the colour of the tin that you are a charity they know so give money. They seem a little confused when you explain who you are, but give money anyway.  Some give because their children are desperate for the sticker you hold in your hand. And some avoid you any which way they can.


The best people for me are those that stop and ask you who you are collecting for and what it involves, or those who have been on the receiving end of the service the charity provides.  This always leaves me feeling a little warm and fuzzy inside – to know the difference the charity can make.


So next time you see a charity collector, take time to understand who they are collecting for, give if you believe in their cause, but above all give them a smile and say hello.  It will bring a smile to their face and break the monotony.


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