George began mentoring with us in 2022. He has supported his mentee to prepare for their GCSE English exam, find courses and workshops of interest to them, and improve their health and wellbeing by focusing on day-to-day goals such as doing more exercise, improving their sleep, and reducing social media use.
What do you do for work?
I’m a journalist, focusing on international news.
What do you get up to when you’re not working or volunteering as a mentor?
I enjoy running (although I try not talking about it because I’m wary of becoming a running bore), eating out, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, and plagiarising football pundits opinions and passing them off as my own.
What motivated you to become a volunteer mentor at Hope for the Young?
It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I read a brilliant book by a Brixton-based journalist and mentor Ciaran Thapar last year and that persuaded me to finally take the plunge.
This country is not always the most welcoming place for refugees, and I wanted to help make life that bit easier for someone, even if in a small way. I also thought it would be an enriching experience that I could learn from, which has proven to be the case.
Do you have a favourite memory from mentoring?
We did a tour of the Emirates Stadium (neither of us are Arsenal fans, which the staff found slightly confusing). Even though we were mainly enjoying lapping up the football history and taking photos in Mikel Arteta’s office, we also had some in-depth conversations which helped us get a better understanding of one another. It was a great day.
What’s been the best thing about mentoring a young person seeking asylum?
Seeing my mentee grow in confidence, and just generally getting to know him better as a person is really rewarding.
One of the exercises we’ve done is to go through a few chapters of a book each week. This has facilitated some fascinating discussions about the world and how my mentee sees it. I’ve learned a lot from him.
What tips would you give to other volunteer mentors?
Firstly, I’ve learned that you really need to listen. I was probably a bit nervous in the first few sessions and was talking too much. Once you start properly listening, you start gaining a better understanding of your mentee and what you can help them with.
And secondly, I’d say that you should go for it in the first instance. For a long time I was putting it off, unsure if I could fit mentoring within my busy schedule, but it’s been very manageable in that regard.
It’s been such an enjoyable experience and I’m so glad I finally did it.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to George for all his hard work as a mentor!
Want to support young refugees to settle into life in the UK and achieve their goals? Click the buttons below to become a mentor yourself or donate to help more young people receive mentoring support.