Core programme elements
Monitoring and Support
Ongoing monitoring and support of mentors and mentees is critical to your programme’s success. This will help ensure the safety of the young person, assess the quality of the relationship being formed, and enable programme staff to respond in a timely manner to specific needs and/or challenges being encountered in the relationship that may cause it to falter.
- Monitoring the relationship
- Assessing the relationship
- Supporting the relationship
Refer to section 5.5 of the Guide NZYMN Effective Practice Guide_Monitoring and Support
You may also find this checklist useful: NZYMN Effective and Safe Practice in Youth Mentoring_Monitoring and Support Checklist
Many youth mentoring programmes falter because there is inadequate support given to mentors and young people after they have been matched, while the ongoing training of mentors is almost non-existent.
Mentors value support and ongoing training as it stops them from becoming isolated, affirms their efforts, serves as a point where they can obtain advice for the mentoring journey and it 'normalises' certain feelings and emotions they might be experiencing such as feeling inadequate or frustrated.
Ongoing training reinforces topics covered during the mentor training programme, whilst also allowing programme staff to focus on any specific areas require more intensive training. Monthly meetings between programme staff and mentors initially will have a greater chance of seeing strong bonds developed between all involved in the mentoring relationship. Some topics which could be part of ongoing training could include:
- Local community issues
- Panels of mentors, young people and caregivers/parents sharing their experiences of the mentoring journey
- Transitioning from school or training to the workplace
- Health and safety issues
- The development of specific life skills
- Developing leadership skills
- Moral dilemmas
- Communication skills
- Managing crises
- Dealing with gender issues
- Clarification of roles and responsibilities of other agencies for young people
- Assisting abused young people
- Prejudice and discrimination
- Goal setting
- Working with the young person's family
- Educators sharing issues involving young people
- Guest speakers or panel discussions covering a variety of topics
- Resolving conflicts
- Preparing for closure
These meetings should also involve time being set aside for mentors to share experiences, raise problems and build their networks.
Programme staff need to contact mentors on a regular basis during the first three months of the match. Contact can be by telephone, email or face-to-face. Weekly contact is encouraged initially, which then becomes fortnightly, later monthly, in addition to the ongoing training gatherings and any other planned activities involving mentors and young people.
There might be times for programme staff to bring mentors and mentees together to work through specific relationship issues they are battling with. If handled sympathetically, empathetically and sensitively, the mentoring relationship can be considerably strengthened.
Programme staff are encouraged to keep confidential records of the mentoring relationships, including mentor attendance records at ongoing training gatherings. Regular feedback from mentors and young people is critical to the success and ongoing development of youth mentoring programmes. Mentors should be required to complete monthly, user-friendly log sheets and young people could be interviewed or surveyed on a regular basis.
A pre-training face-to-face interview between programme staff and mentors sends a message to the latter that they are valued members of the programme who will be supported throughout the mentoring journey.
Affirming mentors both publicly and privately is vitally important for the retention of volunteer adult mentors. This can take the form of a telephone call, a text message, an email or an article in a newsletter or community newspaper.
Youth mentoring programmes can nominate mentors (with their permission) for specific community awards or ask them to share experiences in a public forum.
Highlights of mentoring relationships can be featured on websites or, in a business partnership with a youth mentoring organisation, on the particular company's intranet or bulletin board.
Programme staff can give surprise recognition rewards at ongoing training and supervision gatherings e.g., petrol, entertainment or meal vouchers.
Programmes can plan annual breakfasts, lunches, dinners or other fun activities, such as Scavenger Hunts with major sponsored prizes for mentors and young people to celebrate and recognise the contributions of mentors.
Certificates can be presented to mentors and young people when specific goals are achieved or their relationship has continued for a specific period of time e.g., 9 months, 12 months etc.
Weekly email tips and words of encouragement can be sent to all mentors, helping them to feel valued members of the mentoring community, at the same time increasing their mentoring skill levels.
Birthday greetings and letters or cards of appreciation from programme staff to mentors and young people will always be appreciated.
A letter to a mentor's employer acknowledging and affirming the mentor's contribution to the programme is a powerful way to recognise and retain mentors.
All recognition should be genuine and honest, acknowledging specific contributions of individual mentors wherever possible.
Programme staff are encouraged to ensure that mentors have access to programme policies and procedures, emergency contact numbers, as well as relevant books, articles and other resources which might enhance the mentoring relationship.
Programme staff should also openly acknowledge and value feedback from all involved in the mentoring journey, a positive way to recognise and retain mentors.