Meet the Mentor: Maria

It was brilliant to help Kayleigh to realise her potential, as well as find ideas and inspiration she might not have discovered before.

About you

My name is Maria. I’m an Operations Manager, and when I’m not at work I like to go and see live music, the cinema, theatre and comedy. I’m also a big fan of interesting and unusual events, such as interactive theatre and games in London.

I’m good at talking to people, making people laugh (I hope!), cooking and fixing things.

Maria and Kayleigh

I was matched with Kayleigh, a 15 year old young woman who had been referred to Safer London because her older brothers had become involved with gangs, and there was concern that she might go down that route too.

Kayleigh and I met up once a week for about six months and we developed an excellent relationship. We went running together, explored football groups and went bowling. During these fun and informal sessions we were able to talk about anything that Kayleigh needed to about what was going on in her own life.

Unfortunately, Kayleigh went through a lot of upheaval and trauma during the time that we were matched, and I was able to become a reliable constant in her life.

What did you hope to get from mentoring a young person?

I really wanted to meet someone that I can support and have a nice time with by getting to know them and doing interesting and fun things.

It was brilliant to help Kayleigh to realise her potential, and encourage her self-worth, as well as help find opportunities, ideas and inspiration she might not have discovered before. Mentoring also helped me understand the issues that lots of young people face in our society. Mentoring is a unique and fun way of improving a young person’s circumstances and happiness.

Why did you get involved with Safer London mentoring?

I got involved with Safer London Mentoring because I was very interested in the opportunities that young people can miss out on for different reasons. I was exposed to the effect of crime and the criminal justice system in Mexico where my mother worked with young people in one of juvenile detention centres there.

There is a lot of potential in young people and I wanted to play a part of helping to bring that out. Safer London is a really acclaimed organisation, and from speaking with the volunteer coordination team, joining was an obvious choice for me.

How did you find it?

I have found the mentoring hugely enjoyable. Tough, but very rewarding. I have realised that small achievements and positive impacts can go a very long way and Kayleigh was a really great person to meet as well.

The training for mentors was extremely useful in terms of understanding contexts and difficulties that many young people have. Not only that, but the training has had a greater impact on my relationship with others I have met in both social and my working life. I haven’t been bored once, as they are led with a great balance of fun engagement and seriousness in the significant knowledge that is passed on to volunteers.

I would definitely recommend other people to mentor. I think it is a fantastic opportunity to understand the society we live in, but most importantly to help a young person whose opportunities may not be so available to them.

The impact a volunteer can have is huge, I have enjoyed the whole process and hope I can work with Safer London for a much longer time yet.

Our mentors work with a young person for around six months. They are matched with one young person at a time, and can volunteer as many time as they want to. If you are interested in being matched with a mentee, visit our Get Involved page.