I previously worked with lads as a custody officer when they were in the court’s system, and many had been in care. You realise these lads don’t need locking up, they needed some intervention earlier on.
There was a 17-year-old lad that had been done for shoplifting three times and was facing a custodial sentence, then you hear that his dad was an alcoholic and his mum overdosed and he was taken into care at 9 years old. At 17 years old, he was living in a field fending for himself. and stealing food just so he could eat.
I thought to myself, maybe I can help somehow. It opened up my eyes to the need and that some sort of preventative work, like a listening ear would have helped him and others. You see there’s always a story. Lots of people just see a ‘bad lad’ but there is a story as to how they ended up there.
It’s reputation. When someone told me about the club, I drove past and thought it looked like a good set up. With that and wanting to do something to help young people, I felt I was at the right time in my life to be a mentor and I thought how could I say no. So I went online, did a bit of research and did the paperwork.
I did the training back in 2010. To be honest you can’t come out of the training not knowing what you are doing. It prepares you well.
Whenever I have had a problem the help is there. The support and experience are there. Sometimes you may come across some things and it may make you emotional but, you’ve got the right people and the right support at the club to support you.
Seeing the change in the young person. You can’t let them down and you have to stick to it. You have to build a relationship and gain their trust and be in it for the long haul.
A lot. It’s having someone else they can talk to. It gives them an outlet that they’ve never had before and that can only be a good thing. It gives them someone to talk to if they need it and when they need it. It also gives them regular visits.
I get a reward from just seeing them – pride and pleasure. It gets me out of the house but it’s for someone else, not just me. Pride in knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.
I like it because too many services give up too quickly on young people but to be honest really, it’s about what they get out of it.
You can’t fail. You can only fail if you don’t have a go, so just volunteer and do the training.
Plus, you get to meet other volunteers who are probably as apprehensive as you at the training but it will make you realise you can do it. You will be very welcomed by the team.