Helen is a volunteer mentor with Hounslow Allies. Allies are volunteers, independent of social workers or other professional in a child in care’s life. They build a relationship with the child or young person (usually between 8 and 16) based on trust and mutual respect, they become a child’s Right Friend, a role model and a supporter who can be invited to attend Looked After Children Review meetings if the child wants them to. Here is Helen’s story:
“Following excellent and ongoing training with Hounslow Allies in April 2022, I was privileged to be matched with a young woman, aged 16, whom I shall refer to as Naomi (not her real name).
Naomi and I meet up roughly monthly at a weekend as I work full-time. Occasionally we have touchpoints in between meetings via WhatsApp or a short phone call.
In my mid-40s and with no children, nieces, or nephews of my own, I have found getting to know Naomi an absolute delight. I care about her life and future, and we have enjoyed getting to know one another. We share an artistic flair. Last summer, I accompanied Naomi to collect her GCSE results. I discovered that she was taking the bus to school alone. Naomi dislikes bus travel, and torrential rain was forecast, so she appreciated the support, and I felt privileged to be part of such an important occasion in her life.
“While I am aware of the limitations of benefits I can make to Naomi’s life, I believe that our pairing leaves a positive impression. For me, mentoring is rewarding and life-enriching.”
Our shared activities mostly involve walking in nature. We have also visited art exhibitions, ridden a pedalo, and taken an exciting boat ride together on the Thames in London. Despite being a Londoner raised in Hounslow, this was only Naomi’s first-ever visit to London. She has since visited with friends and retraced the little walking tour I planned.
Naomi has told me she finds me calming and very different from her day-to-day life at home. Last Christmas, Naomi handmade me a beautiful Christmas card to chart our days out together, which was truly humbling.
Together, we have laughter and a range of conversations. Naomi confides in me and saves her most important topics towards the end of our visit, often when we are driving home.
While I am aware of the limitations of benefits I can make to Naomi’s life, I believe that our pairing leaves a positive impression. For me, mentoring is rewarding and life-enriching.”
To find out more about volunteering with Hounslow Allies and how to get involved, please email