Teaching into Retirement: Rosemary’s Experience through Mentoring

“I was extremely touched when, on my return, I received a phone call from Maaz. His first words were, ‘I missed you so much.’”

Rosemary is a retired teacher who has been a Volunteer Mentor for Hope for the Young for over a year. Her mentee, Maaz, came to the UK from Eritrea when he was 16. Rosemary and Maaz meet every week at Wimbledon library, where Rosemary helps Maaz to improve his English.

Rosemary has been working with refugee families since 2000, including setting up a comprehensive support program for newly-arrived unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Merton. When the Council withdrew its funding, Rosemary saw that many newly-arrived young asylum seekers were left without the necessary support to integrate and thrive in their new society. Rosemary was thrilled to discover Hope for the Young:

“I was amazed at the resilience and positivity of these children, who, in extremely violent and difficult times, had been uprooted, survived the severe hardships of their journeys and were making positive attempts to become contributory citizens in their new country.

I sought out different organizations where I could continue to have an input into the lives of these amazing young people. I was very happy to find I could become a mentor with Hope for the Young. I really enjoy meeting up with my mentee each week and I know he enjoys our meetings too. Mostly, we focus on his English Language development, but I am also able to help him with the next stage of his life, making choices about his college and course.

When my own children had exams, when they came home, I would also ask them how they got on. When they went on a school trip I would ask them if they had had a good time. If they had had a football match I would ask them if they won. Our young people who are here without family have no one to ask these questions. I think one of the greatest successes of mentoring is when we are able to show our mentees that we are interested in them, as individuals; their small successes as well as their victories and, of course, their frustrations.

I have recently had a three week holiday during which I was unable to meet up with my mentee. I was extremely touched when, on my return, I received a phone call from Maaz. His first words were, “I missed you so much.”

Reflecting with Rosemary about his impressions of the UK, Maaz said he feels more freedom and more comfortable in the life he has begun here. When he arrived in London as an under-18 year-old minor, he was able to finally able to pursue college and study English immediately – “There was nothing to stop me.”