Grandmentors provide a vital link for young people as they navigate life after care. Our Grandmentors come from a wide range of backgrounds and all walks of life. This enables them to understand and meet the range of needs of their mentees. Here Grandmentors Volunteer Graeme tells us about his experience being involved as a volunteer mentor in Perth and Kinross, Scotland.
“I’ve had a long a fruitful career in chemical manufacturing which has taken me to many interesting and lovely places, but 3 years ago I went into semi-retirement. And I thought ‘it’s time to get more involved locally’. I was impressed with the straightforward approach to including people and with the training given, but more impressed with the lovely people I have come to work with over the last year. As well as my volunteer co-ordinator, there have been social workers and other support staff along the way and all have been excellent – so a big thank you there.
“I was impressed with the straightforward approach to including people and with the training given”
“I was paired with a young Afghani asylum seeker called Kamran. He was only 16 and he spoke little English. I decided the best approach was just to get him out and about to explore and understand this new country he was living in. A seaside walk, down by the Forth Road Bridges, was a good place to start. Initially we would have long silences, but he did a lovely thing on that first day; he wrote my name in Arabic in the sand.
“So we met regularly through the year, going to a Ceilidh, Highland Games, other coastal places or local beauty spots. And Kamran opened up, bit by bit. Finding out he was interested in engineering, I arranged visits to a local garage and to a large national car company – both willingly showed him around their premises and told him what the opportunities were like. His understanding of English was rapid through ESOL, but he needed more than that and the way forward was through Perth College. So I started pushing on that, with the social services, and eventually he got a place. He also needed asylum granted. All credit to the authorities, that was received in just over a year.
“For me this was a well worthwhile experience”
“Most of all I got to know a really lovely young man trying to find his way in a new country with no friends, no back-up and little ability to communicate. It’s been a wonderful experience getting to know Kamran. We’ve now completed a year together and, from a project point of view, finished. But I hope Kamran keeps in touch, particularly at the end of the academic year, when the next big decisions need to be made. For me this was a well worthwhile experience.”
You can find out more about Grandmentors on the project page and register your interest.