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“The ethos is genuinely embedded in the organisation”

Mentoring is undoubtedly helpful for building confidence and skills when you start a new job. But how does being a mentor aid your professional development?

Ned shares why he wanted to join the mentoring pathway of St Christopher’s Academy and how the experience benefits him.

Why did you want to work at St Christopher’s?

When I was leaving university, I wanted to work in the charity sector and ideally on the frontline. I didn’t actually know that much about any charities, so I did some research and liked the ethos of St Christopher’s.

I had a really positive experience with interview – the people seemed really nice and very good at what they were doing. Now I work here, I recognise that the ethos is genuinely embedded in the organisation.

NedWhat experience did you have before joining the organisation?

I didn’t have loads of relevant experience, but I had done some volunteering at a semi-independent home previously by running weekly philosophy discussions with the young people. It gave me some idea of how they were run and the skills you need to work there.

Why did you want to take on a mentoring role?

I wanted to do it because I remember the things I found difficult when I started the job. So much of how you settle in is about being influenced by the people around you, so you can build habits, attitudes and skillsets. You mainly learn this from looking at others and talking about your work. I felt established and comfortable enough in my role to offer this to someone else.

It’s been a really good fit to work with Alonso, my mentee. He wanted support with understanding the paperwork we do and writing reports in a person-centred, positive style. That’s part of my role I feel confident with, so I felt like I could help with some strategies.

What do you do in the mentoring sessions?

Each session, I prepare something in advance like an activity or some information that I want to ensure I get across. Then it’s just an opportunity to catch up so I can understand the whole picture of his work life at that time.

We go through his reports together, and I highlight what he’s doing well and suggest little tweaks. We’ve also shadowed each other in the homes we work in, which has been useful to see how we do things.

Were you given any training or support to become a mentor?

There was an online introduction to mentoring before I started. Since then, I’ve been able to reach out to St Christopher’s training department for additional support and advice when I’ve needed it.

Has anything been difficult?

One thing I found difficult to start with was worrying that I needed to prepare hours of mentoring material during our shift shadowing – I thought I would run out of useful things to do! But the training team reassured me that it’s to be expected and you don’t have to be in the mentor role for the whole time.

How does mentoring benefit new starters?

It’s useful from a confidence perspective. A lot of what I’ve shown him is that he is doing work very right and his instincts are usually correct. When he thinks he doesn’t know what he is doing, I can show him that’s not true! I’ve also passed on different strategies and techniques that he would otherwise have to learn through trial and error.

How has being a mentor benefited you?

It allows you to see yourself differently and feel assured about what you’re doing. When you start talking about your work to someone else and they find it valuable, it reminds you you’ve developed a lot and you have a strong grip on your work. You don’t always notice this happening as it’s piece by piece, so it’s good to give you a sense of where you’re at and allow you to work with confidence.

I also enjoy passing on the idea that I was also new at one point and felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. It’s been good to get that across to someone and reassure them that it’s OK to feel that way and you will find your feet.

What professional development opportunities have you had at St Christopher’s?

Quite a few – I’ve shadowed a semi-independent home manager, taken on team leader responsibilities temporarily and have been shadowing the person who leads our team’s therapeutic practice to get a sense of that side of the work.

Where do you see yourself going in your career?

I can see in the organisation that there are lots of people who have moved around and done different things. I like that as an idea and can see myself taking on those opportunities.

Thank you to Ned for sharing his story. To get your career at St Christopher’s underway, check out our current vacancies.