For the purpose of the New Zealand Youth Mentoring Network, mentoring aims to provide a purposeful, structured and trusting relationship, that brings young people together with caring individuals who offer guidance, support and encouragement.” New Zealand Youth Mentoring Network
A mentor is not a replacement for a parent, nor are they a counsellor or teacher. They are a sounding board and confidant to the young person.
While every mentoring programme has a different role description for their mentors they all have one common goal and that is to help a young person fulfil his / her own potential and discover his / her strengths.
Any caring adult can become a mentor no matter their life experiences. Characteristics they should possess include good listening and communications skills, patience and being willing to provide support and encouragement to their young person.
Yes, formal mentoring programmes that recruit volunteers will have a rigorous recruitment process in place.
Potential mentors will need to:
Programmes also train their mentors prior to matching them with a young person and will provide ongoing support throughout the programme to both the mentor and the young person.
There has been a great deal of international research carried out on the benefits of mentoring to a young person. Research by Tierney and Grossman1 and Dubois et al2 has shown that young mentees are less likely to become involved in criminal activity, drug and alcohol abuse or to leave school early. Instead they are more likely to have improved academic performance and have better relationships with their teachers and family compared to their peers who are not mentored.