What being a mentor means
Being able to give up a little bit of your time and then being prepared to go on with it. That’s the starting point. And to be fair dinkum, it’s two years of tiny commitments that could matter so much. The time commitment is as little as one to two hours a fortnight – less time than you might spend watching a footy match.
One young bloke, aged between 13 and 18, will have you as a mentor. You’re not his boss, or some bastard he doesn’t like – you’re his mate.
A Menslink mentor is someone who listens and shows by example how to handle daily life as a man in today’s world. You don’t have to be heroic – just genuine, responsible and open to learning and sharing your valuable time.
Michael and Des are both mentors in the Menslink Mentors program in Canberra. We sat down with both of them in the gym after a filming session with the Brumbies Rugby team for our Silence is Deadly campaign. In this short video they shared their insights into being a mentor on the program, what they have got out of it and a few of the things they didn’t expect would happen. There’s plenty of guys like Michael and Des who have become Mentors so if you think you’d like to get involved, get in touch.
One of the best descriptions of a mentor comes from leading adolescent psychologist, Maggie Dent, who describes them as “lighthouses”:
“A lighthouse represents something that is strong, reliable and immovable, and shows a light showing safe passage. It does not tell you to do something, it simply shows you a safer way to go. A lighthouse says, if you want to do something really risky and smash on the rocks, then be my guest, but I won’t rescue you. I will keep the light shining so that next time you remember how painful your last choice was and maybe choose a better path where my light shines.”
Menslink mentors don’t teach or preach. We tell stories – mostly our own – and let the young guys decide themselves what they want to do with that information.
Why be a Mentor?
Mentoring doesn’t just make a difference to the young bloke. Mentoring with Menslink:
- Gets you into a community of like-minded, supportive men sharing a common goal
- Helps you learn a lot about yourself
- Builds lasting friendships and relationships
- Builds your self-esteem
You don’t need any special skills or qualifications to be a mentor. Just commitment, maturity and a willingness to support the next generation of young blokes. We will provide the training you need and will support you throughout your entire mentoring relationship.
“I also remember asking you how to be a good mentor and your simple response was to be myself, be honest and follow my best instincts. Well, it was in fact, that straightforward.
There is no mentor guide book. There is no mentoring formulae. And you don’t attempt to mandate one. I believe the programme is so successful, because it encourages us to use life experience and our best instincts in providing a positive context, challenge and support for the young men in our charge.” Menslink mentor, 2014
Mentors will meet others who are equally excited about working and being with young men. In all likelihood, new friends will be made and mentors will experience the fulfilment of belonging to a community that values them, supports them and appreciates the work they are doing to support the next generation.
“I have a high profile, highly paid job but it can be very thankless at times. Menslink has done wonders for my self-esteem. By feeling valued in the Menslink community, my confidence has increased and I feel I can tackle new challenges.” Menslink mentor, 2011
“To be able to make some small difference to the well being and positive experience of this young man gives me untold satisfaction and a feeling of fulfilment. Through Menslink I have new purpose and challenge in my life. It helps me remain outward looking and engaged with my community and I have the opportunity to make new friends amongst like minded people.” Menslink mentor, 2013
“What I didn’t expect was the personal satisfaction from being a mentor, nor the kinship I’ve found through being associated with a bunch of guys who have a common purpose in doing good for others. I’ve gained friends who have supported me through difficult times; some of whom will be lifelong mates.” Menslink mentor, 2014
Have a look at our case studies and testimonials and you can get more information on what it’s like being a mentor. Alternatively, give us a a call or send us an email and we can give you a better feel for what it’s like or put you in touch with mentors who can give you their first hand views. You could come to one of our Midweekers and meet a few yourself…
You can also listen to an interview on ABC Radio with Brumby legend Clyde Rathbone and mentor Denis Sargent who talk about what it’s like volunteering with the Menslink mentoring program. Click here to listen.
To keep our program safe, all staff and volunteers with Menslink are rigorously screened and must undergo a police and other checks to get into and stay in the program. These checks protect our reputation and yours. Most importantly, they protect the young blokes.
Becoming a mentor
Becoming a mentor is a simple process designed to ensure lasting, quality and safe relationships between our mentors and the young blokes.
The initial application process involves a few forms and a preliminary interview with the Menslink team. You will need to have completed:
- A signed Mentor Application Form (including contact details for referees)
- A Working with Vulnerable People check run by the ACT Government (free to volunteers)
- Your interview
Once you have been interviewed and your referee and police checks are done, we provide extensive training to help you on your mentoring journey. The training includes an evening session and a residential training weekend. We then hold two matching evenings where the young blokes get to know their potential mentors.
Once you have become a mentor to a young man, we encourage you to come to our LinkUp events with other mentors and mentees. These are good ways to socialise with other mentors, as well as getting your young bloke to meet and make new friends.
We are also in regular contact with both you and your mentee to support you in your mentoring and to make sure everything runs smoothly. Both face to face and telephone hook-ups are made between Menslink, the mentor, mentee and sometimes with their families. Our aim is to foster a long term and productive relationship for everyone that will support the young man and their mentor.
Some of the events that you can get involved with:
- Christmas BBQ Gathering in December
- Two annual camps in the bush (winter) and down the coast (summer)
- Mentors’ Retreat
- Annual General Meeting
If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, please contact us.