Mentoring provides a service that is separate and additional to the benefits of professional support. We provide the best briefing and training that we can, but our volunteers are not experts. They cannot have the depth of experience that most professional workers have.
Our volunteer mentors offer consistent personal support. As volunteers, they have chosen to give their time to help. This means they have a different, more equal relationship with the people they are helping. They can be flexible, accompanying people to interviews, attending official appointments to provide support. They can go with service users to introduce them to new services, bridging the gaps between services.
When a mentor does not know the answer, we encourage them to say “let’s find out together. “ Learning together can be more empowering than simply providing quick answers.
We ask mentors to arrange to meet service users once a week at a regular time and place. – though of course this can be varied if it would be more helpful to meet at an office or other service.
We can help your client with anything they are interested in including:
- Job applications
- Settling into the community
We aim to provide friendly encouragement in an informal setting. Our volunteers are not necessarily experts. Their role is to help the service user make use of the expert advice that is already available.
Looking to refer someone?
If you would like to refer someone please download, fill in this form and send it to us.
About Bridging the Gap Islington
Bridging the Gap Islington is a mentoring project set up to help vulnerable adults, offenders and those at risk of offending. We recruit and match volunteer mentors to service users who have self-referred or have been referred through an agency. We encourage self-referral, but will also ask for supporting information from an agency, to ensure the suitability of the partnership and the safety of volunteers.
We offer a period of up to 16 weeks of mentoring. We feel it is better to have a clear limit because this should be a goal oriented partnership – friendly but not unlimited support.
We will send you a referral form. The first page should be filled out and signed by the service user. The second page should be filled out by a support worker. Once we have received the referral form, we will match a suitable volunteer mentor to the service user, based on their interests and the clients’ needs.
Each mentor will be supervised by an experienced person from Bridging the Gap Islington. We suggest an initial meeting with the referrer, service user, mentor and supervisor. The service user and the mentor can get to meet, agree on at least one goal and agree a routine of regular meetings. It is important to ensure that service user and mentor both have each other’s phone number.
The aim is to have one meeting a week in a public place – could be at the referring agency, but it could also be a café or similar. At each meeting, we ask the mentor to fill in a target sheet together with the service user.
At the beginning, middle and at the end of the mentoring partnership we ask that mentor fill out a small questionnaire with the client. So we can monitor and evaluate our progress.
The mentor will inform their supervisor of the times and dates they meet with the service user, and will update the supervisor most weeks on about how it’s going. The supervisor will also plan to meet with the mentor once a month.
Concerns raised by either mentors or referrers should be copied to the supervisor, who will then probably suggest that they talk to one another. This is just to make sure that the supervisor is kept up to date and help the volunteer has consistent support.
Who Can Apply?
We want to be as flexible as possible, but we do ask that:
Prospective mentees must be referred or supported by a professional agency working with the mentee;
- Be over 18 years old and under 60;
- be at risk of offending in its broadest sense;( this includes homeless and drug and alcohol users)
- not be known to threaten or be violent towards support workers or associates;
- be able to state one or two goals that they wish to work towards with their mentor; and
- agree to meet their mentor on a regular basis in or near Islington
In addition the referral agency should be confident that the prospective mentee is stable enough to be likely to attend regular meetings.
Note: We will make our best effort but we do not guarantee to be able to arrange a mentoring partnership. Service users should note that it may take some weeks before we are able to suggest a mentor. During this time, we will keep service users regularly informed.
We believe that it is better to try to find a partnership, even though we may not succeed rather than giving an outright refusal. In borderline cases, for example where the service users behaviour is unstable or unusual, then we will only suggest a mentoring partnership if we find a mentor who seems able to accept any challenges this poses. This means they may wait a long time.
We ask our mentors to follow standard policies and advice. Our policies are here: Policy & Advice for Mentors