For Volunteers’ Week 2019, our Marketing and Communications Manager James Martin met with Grandmentor volunteer Jeanette and her mentee Musa, to chat to them about the project.
Musa, 19, is a mentee with Grandmentors Hounslow. Musa arrived as an asylum seeker three years ago on his own, from a small village in Sudan. He’s been adapting to his new life living in sheltered accommodation whilst improving his language and life skillswith the help of Grandmentor Jeanette.
Jeanette has been mentoring Musa since early 2018. “Jeanette helps me with my English,” he says. She spends a couple of hours most weeks, helping him with his work at college, where he is taking exams to improve his English, as well as studying Maths and Geography.
Jeanette, whose background is in publishing, and latterly teaching English as a second language, was identified by our Hounslow volunteer manager as the perfect mentor for Musa. “I have been a Grandmentor for a few years. The manager felt that Musa would really benefit from the language support, as well general life experience. I am delighted that he has made significant progress over the past year, not only in learning the language, but also gaining in confidence and feeling optimistic about the future.”
Musa discusses his weekly activities with Jeanette and uses their meetings to seek advice on problems such as understanding job applications forms. ”She helps me with documents, and talks me through what to do.”
Musa is one of around twenty young people who are either seeking, or have been granted, asylum and are being assisted by Grandmentors in Hounslow. Working closely with the Council, who support our work, they are given help in settling into a new life, in very challenging circumstances. Musa plans to volunteer in a charity shop to gain some experience, and to start doing some security work once he has the necessary documentation.
He is grateful for the support he has received from Grandmentors and for the sense of community the project encourages. “I know other Mentees from college and meet new people at events like the Grandmentors Christmas party and special activities like the theatre.” Musa has also made new friends at the gym where he spends a lot of his free time, thanks to sponsorship of his membership by Grandmentors.