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Role Profile: Volunteer Mentor

Linda is a volunteer mentor with First Light.

Prior to COVID Linda volunteered on the Safer Futures helpline. The challenges of lockdown led to a new way of working for volunteers; we identified a necessity to work remotely and to be responsive to individuals affected by DASV during a particularly isolating time. We acknowledged a need to support  and listen to those who would benefit from a little extra time, to be heard and validated. Consequently during the Pandemic, Linda piloted a successful mentor programme based on these values and it continues to thrive and develop. Linda was recently nominated for the BBC Make A Difference Awards for the incredible part she played in the programme ; recognising the generosity, time and kindness, and all that she brings to the role.

Mentors provide a telephone listening role for adults who have experienced recent or historic Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence. Referrals come through the helpline, and often people access the mentoring scheme whilst awaiting another service.

The scheme is carried out over an average of 5 weeks, and creates a regular, safe space for people to share what’s worrying them, any concerns.

Mentors speak on the phone to their clients each week for up to an hour, making regular contact. It’s great for people who are perhaps without social support, with no friends or family or who for whatever reason don’t want to speak to other people around them. They have an opportunity to share something safely without having to involve family or friends. The regular sessions mean the mentors can build a rapport up, and over this time they really see people being able to chat more freely and gain confidence, empowering themselves to continue their journeys to recovery.

It’s important to fill the gaps when people are waiting for other services and the Mentoring scheme gives them something in-between. It’s not a counselling service, so it can feel more accessible, and offers a more casual and less clinical relationship.

People are usually quite nervous, and it’s really appreciated how kind and understanding the mentors are. Some people don’t need counselling or other support services, so the mentors allow them the opportunity just to be able to voice their concerns, fears and share with a non-judgemental person.

Not to mention, you get to know and speak to some really lovely people.

Why First Light?

Some time ago I had been a support worker for Splitz (now FearLess) and really enjoyed working one to one with people. I heard that First Light were advertising for volunteers and I felt from my past experience with Splitz that I understood many of the issues that affect victims of Domestic Abuse and hoped I still had something to offer as a volunteer.  Following that, the wonderful training brought me up to scratch and it’s great to be able to give back. It’s a lovely team of mentors, and it really is clear we’re making a real difference which is great to know.

If you’d like to volunteer with First Light find out more here.