Mentoring Francesca has been a fascinating two-year journey that I wouldn’t have missed for the world.
When we began, Francesca was still a young carer to one of her parents. Francesca’s own health had suffered as a result, she had missed a significant amount of her first year of A level studies and had been told she had to repeat it.
This turned her away from college and education and, although we didn’t touch on it much in our early conversations, it did come up over the coming months.
By then, after further discussions and positive support from her Dad, Francesca had decided to return to college and study for her A levels. Our meetings began each week from college and Francesca’s own communication gradually improved.
She would not always say much initially – although it didn’t seem to affect the fun moments in our times together, going for lunch or coffee and around the shops or to a film – but then she would suddenly confide in me with conversations that always started with “Right …..”
She wanted to get another opinion on things in her life, or at least sort out her own ideas, so we often talked around situations and she seemed happy with that.
I always felt that Francesca had missed out on vital teen years by being a young carer. Gradually, though, she seemed to get more of a social life and definitely started to mature, offering interesting opinions on people or things that we discussed. She was proving to be a bright and perceptive person.
Now, she is taking her A level exams, has a potential place at Manchester Metropolitan University to study law and a back-up plan to take an apprenticeship as a paralegal. She has even applied for places, just in case.
Over time, she has developed into a very straightforward and balanced young woman, still valuing her family and friends but becoming more independent. She’s had a couple of boyfriends and discussed them happily in a general way – especially when they got too serious!
Our journey together has been like watching a flower slowly blossom into something special. As a rookie Mentor, I also had to learn how to deal with Francesca– very different from dealing with my own three daughters – and to be pragmatic while always offering different possibilities that she might consider.
I tried not to give too many opinions but often found that Francesca reasoned through situations herself. Surely a Mentor’s role is also to be a facilitator to the right decision for each young person?
Together, we have had plenty of laughs, plenty of serious discussions and plenty of food for thought. She has seemed to find our meetings useful and enjoyable and so have I.
I’ve never felt alone or without the support of the BLGC team and often valued the chance to talk over a particular problem with my Co-ordinator who has proven to be a reliable source of commonsense and support.
I feel confident that Francesca has managed to get through a difficult part of her life with, to some degree, help from her mentor and from the system that BLGC creates. I have great faith in a mentoring system that offers so much to both sides of this role but, in particular, provides that consistent someone to talk to that every young person needs.