A simple concept. Connect a new starter with someone experienced to learn from them and help create a smooth transition into a new role. In actual fact, the mentoring programme at RMC has become so much more.
Mentoring: How it works
When a new volunteer starts with RMC, they are provided with a full induction and initial training. Following this, they are assigned a mentor they will work with, initially to shadow and then to be a guide to them as they continue their volunteering. This mentor shows them the day to day workings of the organisation, is there to answer questions, and help shape their experience so they are able to get what they want from the experience.
Along with regular supervisions, this support has been vital to providing volunteers with a high quality experience and allowing them to fulfil their potential during their time.
I started volunteering in May last year the first thing I want to say is amazing! I met a lot of people and clients. I was able to feel the kind and friendly atmosphere at RMC. When I came to the interview with Claire Ashraf I was stiff and I was very worried. I was afraid that I might not pass the interview because I did not speak too much English but it was empty because the meeting with Claire was wonderful for which I am very grateful to Claire. I saw that you are always welcome here and you are always ready to help, the main thing is to overcome your fears!Elena, RMC Volunteer
Since it’s introduction, the mentoring programme has improved the quality of the volunteer experience and reduced the training time required for volunteers. By having someone assigned to support them, there is a clear structure to follow and the benefits of this have not only been for the volunteers themselves, but for the RMC staff that are mentoring.
Claire, RMC’s volunteer manager, has noticed a big difference in RMC Caseworker, Valeriia, who was trained up and has been mentoring Elena for since June 2022. “Valeriia has always been a great team member, but since taking on the mentor role, she has developed her leadership skills even further. She has taken the time to understand Elena. To discover what she wants to get from the experience and how she learns best and uses that to adapt her style to suit.”
For Valeriia, she is focused on Elena’s development and is proud of how much her volunteer has developed.
“In terms of job, she does take her responsibilities very serious and always trying to deliver the best possible result. I should admit she was not very self-sure at the beginning when she started to volunteer for RMC. Her English was good but this has improved a lot as well. She put so much effort into it and within just few months the change is absolutely amazing….
…I am blessed to have an opportunity to work with Elena and to teach her all I know. Working with Elena is a pleasure for me. We are getting along very well and to be honest we are rather good friends than just a colleague.”
“When we start working with such an environment we begin to understand that we always can play an important role. I can always count on support from my mentor Valeriia, employees and they also can count on my help. Valeriia and I have built a great relationship and we always work together and efficiently. Probably not enough words to express my sincere feelings about my luck and joy to be a volunteer. I found new friends among employees. Thanks to Valeriia I learned the work that employees do and most importantly I gained purpose and confidence in many things. “Thank you so much “to Valeriia Davies, Claire Ashraf and all the staff from Refugee Migrant Centre. “Elena, RMC Volunteer
RMC’s Volunteer & Training Manager Claire provides all mentors with full training ahead of becoming mentors. Offering support and advice along the way to ensure they have all the tools they need to mentor and someone to ask questions if they are not sure of anything.
Claires top 5 mentoring tips:
1. Find out about your mentee
Start by finding out about the person you are mentoring in order to begin to build that relationship. They will be feeling just as nervous as you, so take time to get to know each other and keep the lines of communication open.
2. Share your knowledge!
Mentoring is about giving someone else the knowledge that you have, that they can then learn and build their own skill base from. We’ve all had to start from somewhere!
3. Be honest and candid
Honesty is the best policy; and giving someone feedback on their work has to be constructive in order for them to learn. Being candid is also a great quality – but just be mindful of your audience. Being candid, is not the same as being rude!
4. Respect each other’s knowledge
It’s great to be able to teach someone new skills, but remember that there is always room for our own improvement. Build on the skills that a mentee has brought with them, as they can be great teachers too!
5. Finding other resources
As much as we like to think that we know everything – mentors don’t always have all the answers! Being able to source information and guidance from elsewhere, and not being reluctant to do this, shows that even when we don’t know ourselves, we will do our best to find someone who does!
“Mentoring is about supporting another person over a period of time. Using your skills and expertise, to enable someone else to grow. This takes time, patience and the ability to devote your time to developing others.…Most of all, this should be seen as an enjoyable, reciprocal process for all.“