An effective mentoring relationship is characterised by mutual respect, trust, understanding, and empathy.
University of Leeds
There is something very special about the mentoring process, and it’s one which works particularly well with creative activities.
I have been a mentor for many years, having been trained by West Sussex County Council in 2012. I have added to that foundation by working as a volunteer with YMCA and the Girls’ Network.
My work with Inkpots has always involved a certain amount of mentoring, and I have recently put that on a more formal footing by adding creative mentoring programmes to the services on offer.
The mentor relationship is different to that of a parent clearly, but also to that of a teacher.
I see the relationship with the young person (‘mentee’) as one where I walk side by side with them. I can listen, empathise, guide and, if needed, advocate for the young person.
I have access to creative contacts in many fields, as well as many years’ experience of working within the creative industries. But I can also call upon my skills of working with teenagers to help them see a way to work through any personal issues which may crop up alongside creative challenges.
After all, the teenage years often bring their own particular set of challenges for a young person and the people around them.
But no successful mentoring relationship works without boundaries.
Before I start work, I always make certain that everyone involved – mentee and parents/carers and any other parties – is clear what the process will be. I create a safe space for a young person to be able to express themselves, but it should also be a situation where any adults are involved in the communication loop too. These boundaries also in line with child protection regulations (my training here is also always up to date).
The outcomes from creative mentoring can be quite simply brilliant! These can include:
- Increased self-confidence and self-worth
- Less frustration
- Clear path for a way forward
- A plan for a creative project
- Improved confidence in own writing or drawing
- Better editorial skills
- An understanding of how favourite creative activities can be used to support wellbeing
- An understanding of the creative process and the value of each part
- An appreciation of the importance of creativity for all of us
- Having a lot of fun!
Ultimately, I would wish for every young person I work with to have their own creative toolkit which grows and develops with them, to support their journey into adulthood.