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Become a Mentor

This is a key role in Spirit Army - no amount of veggies, shoes, and coats for children or programmes can get at the core issue of struggling families. What makes the difference is a person who comes into the life of an embattled parent, relates to that parent, understands them, accepts them, encourages and challenges them, and is their rock who never leaves. This changes the way the person sees themselves and is the source of all change for a family. 

No previous training is required for a mentor, life experience is more important than social services qualifications. This is because our approach is holistic and the relationship with the mentor and parents is organic, normal, two-way and real.

A mentor is freer than a social worker to take up any issues with a family and to interact in any safe way. They are not paid, instead, they are there solely for the other person; they are not there as professionals and therefore do not take up a superior position in relationship to the family but work alongside.

Training is provided by manager Gerry Forde and this includes input from other groups including professionals who work with families.
The key skill is attentive listening to pick up the windows into how the other person is feeling and the often unspoken desire to take a specific action. As a rule, no advice or direction given to a person is of any benefit, the desire and the readiness for action and change have to come from the parent, and recognising and drawing this out is the key role of the mentor. Such action or change may take years rather than months to complete.

Satisfaction for mentors comes from becoming a friend, feeling part of a new family, and subtly guiding them to find their strength and change their lives. Because it’s a two-way encounter, the mentor is changed and challenged by the relationship and grows as a person. It’s one of the deepest satisfactions that you can experience.

Great moments for mentors include - seeing a lifetime burden of guilt lifted from their shoulders, seeing their fear of institutions like WINZ, schools, hospitals evaporate because you are advocating alongside them, the gradual dissolution of negative attitudes so instead of coming away feeling the pain of a family you feel uplifted and come away whistling, seeing a family follow through with an idea that you have subtly sown maybe months before, a change in family routine that reduces stress, a mum with the confidence and patience managing the most difficult of child behaviours, finding closure with hurtful family and friends, forming new healthy relationships, giving and helping others and finding a new lifelong friend.

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