There will come a point when the mentor's formal relationship with the young person will come to an end, hence the importance of having a Closure Policy and Procedure in place.
Mentoring relationships might end for a variety of reasons, some of which could be:
- The relationship never really is established - the young person might not relate to the mentor; the young person lacks interest from the outset; the mentor suddenly has work or personal commitment that result in him or her being unable to continue the relationship; the mentor fails to meet the young person regularly; the match simply is not a good one
- Either the mentor or the mentee moves away from the area in which the programme is operating
- After some months either the mentor or the mentee loses interest in continuing the relationship
- The young person reaches a level of self-sufficiency and requests that the formal aspect of the relationship is ended
- The programme ends i.e., mentors and mentees commit to a 12 month mentoring relationship which they complete
- A serious illness or bereavement could result in the termination of the mentoring relationship
Whatever the circumstances might be, having a process in place which ultimately is aimed at making closure a positive experience for all involved, should be the overall aim of an effective youth mentoring programme.
Wherever possible, a programme staff member should meet with the mentor and young person and encourage them to share all the positive experiences they have enjoyed during their time together. Where possible mentors and young people should be encouraged to continue meeting, perhaps less often and informally, a process that can initially be facilitated by programme staff. Thus emerges a friend for life relationship, surely the ultimate goal of any effective mentoring journey.
Confidential exit interviews or surveys should also be conducted by programme staff with mentors, young people and their families, an important part of programme development and evaluation.
Where applicable, a Certificate of Appreciation could also be awarded to mentors and those young people who have successfully participated in the programme.
If there is an early termination of the mentoring relationship and programme staff are unable to bring the mentor and the young person together for a closure meeting, programme staff are encouraged to hold face-to-face individual meetings with the mentor and the young person. This is an important time, as both the mentor and the young person, who could be experiencing a variety of feelings and emotions, are encouraged, supported, affirmed and made to feel valued participants in the programme.
Where a programme is formally ending, both mentors and young people need to be prepared well in advance for closure. This is a process facilitated by programme staff and can, for example, be a part of the mentor's ongoing training.