Bethany Stephenson who recently attended our Bristol Young Women’s Catalyst Meet-up has written us a blog about mentoring, to help increase understanding of the process and benefits as we recruit for our new mentoring programmes.
“When mentored, you are not just being given advice backed by your mentor’s knowledge, skills and experience but you are also motivated and empowered.”
Hi, I’m Bethany and I became aware of Catalyse Change CIC at a networking event run by Babbasa (for more details on who they are and what they do to support young people, go to https://babbasa.com). After attending the recent Catalyse Change CIC Meet-Up event a fortnight ago on Mentoring, I wanted to write about my own experiences, what mentoring is and why being mentored is important. By the way, if you’d like to attend any upcoming group events, you can find information at https://www.meetup.com/Bristol-Young-Women-Catalyst-Meetup/!
I personally have been mentored most of my life up until last year for usually more intimate reasons. As a woman with disabilities (Asperger’s and retinal abnormality resulting from a genetic condition), I had to have help both for my home life and within school and university. Yet, when researching mentoring, it appears that this was not mentoring but in fact coaching; the difference being that coaching focuses on the present and being mentored concentrates on the future. Still, it did provide me with practical skills that increased my confidence and resilience.
Though I have come to this realisation, four months ago I began a personal mentorship with someone from my local church who is helping me develop my skills for my career and is a personal cheerleader for me whilst I search for work. When mentored, you are not just being given advice backed by your mentor’s knowledge, skills and experience but you are also motivated and empowered. It is also good to remember that the act of mentoring and being mentored is a two-way relationship – you have to put in as much effort as your mentor does and be proactive!
Mentoring can time wise take either a short period of time or many years and, most importantly, is dependent on good communication skills such as active listening and questioning. Catalyse Change CIC is offering a new mentoring programme, providing three to six months of inspiring and empowering support and guidance for young women, aged 14-19 years old, from disadvantaged backgrounds in south Bristol. It runs from September 2019 to March 2020 and is funded by Bristol City Council’s Youth Sector Support Fund, run by Quartet Foundation.
The project aims to help raise your aspirations, confidence and achievements; in other words, to become catalysts for change. Interestingly, one of five commonly used techniques within mentoring is catalysing – when change reaches a critical level of pressure, learning can escalate and this is either through a different way of thinking, a change in identity or a re-ordering of values. Though this learning can be done individually, being mentored can get you to change and achieve your goals more quickly and effectively than working alone. However, this does mean that you have to be more proactive!
The most basic way to be proactive when on the Catalyse Change mentoring scheme or when being mentored at all is to have an open mind. You need to be prepared to learn and, due to that, it may help to have some idea about your learning style, so that you can ask your mentor to work in a way that will help you to learn best. One resource I have used and may be helpful for you is discovering what VARK learning style you fit into – VARK stands for visual, auditory, reading and kinetic. For more information and to take the test, the website that I used and that you can use is http://vark-learn.com.
Matching a mentee (you) with a mentor (a professional female role model working in the sustainability sector), the young woman will be supported one-to-one with monthly meetings to identify and address a current green goal, whether educational, career focused, or around personal development and wellbeing. Access to a quarterly workshop to improve understanding of the sustainability sector and how to access the educational and career opportunities, and an online network to connect, network and engage with like-minded women are also provided.
Catalyse Change CIC have had lots of positive feedback from their pilot programme which just finished last month. The mentees confirmed that they identified and achieved a goal and would recommend the programme to other young women. With social action and environmental protection having much global media attention at the moment, getting young women to realise their ambitions and develop their capacities to shape their world and their future through being mentored is more important now than ever. It may even give them a higher chance of being appointed into senior roles in the future!
If you’ve read this far, interested in what you have read about the mentoring programme and would either like to apply yourself or know someone who may be interested in applying, then please contact Programme Manager Traci Lewis – firstname.lastname@example.org
Catalyse Change currently is recruiting mentees or mentors for our 2019/20 Catalyst Bootcamp & mentoring programme. We also have a new programme specifically for disadvantaged young women in south Bristol, funded by Bristol City Council and Quartet Foundation.