Fatmata, an inspiring young woman from Sierra Leone, arrived in the UK when she was just 16 years old. She was eager to embrace the new experiences and opportunities that a life of safety in the UK offered but lacked the confidence and support she needed to do so. Fortunately, Fatmata’s social worker recognised the potential of mentorship and referred her to our Mentoring Programme. We matched Fatmata with Niki, one of our most experienced volunteer mentors.
This is the story of Fatmata and Niki’s transformative mentoring journey.
When Fatmata was referred to Hope for the Young, she was feeling very isolated and unconfident, having recently arrived in the UK as an asylum-seeker. Fatmata was also struggling to understand the complicated London transportation system, which was limiting her ability to travel around her local area.
I was unable to commute around London, I had no friends and also no confidence at all. Fatmata - Mentee
On top of this, Fatmata was facing a period of significant change: she was about to start at a new school halfway through the academic year and therefore needed to catch up in her subjects and prepare for her Year 10 exams, all while also moving house and having to attend lots of different appointments.
Fatmata was therefore looking for someone who could help her to settle into her new school and prepare for her exams, develop new IT skills and be more organised, feel more confident travelling around London, and make new friends.
Luckily, we had the perfect mentor to support her with all of this! As one of our most experienced mentors, with four mentoring relationships already under her belt, Niki was excited to use her knowledge and experience to support Fatmata, and to learn from her too.
Fatmata and Niki began meeting for their mentoring sessions each week in a local café, where the lady behind the counter became very good at predicting their cake and hot chocolate choices!
Initially, Fatmata felt quite shy around Niki, but she soon opened up and became more confident as they built a strong relationship and started to explore Fatmata’s goals for the future and how they could achieve them.
Having a mentor helped me to figure out what I need to do to achieve my goals. Fatmata - Mentee
In the beginning, they dedicated a lot of time to improving Fatmata’s organisational skills and practising using different technologies. Niki showed Fatmata how to send emails, use Google Maps to navigate around her local area, and organise her commitments and appointments using the calendar on her phone. As a result, Fatmata gained a lot of independence and now feels better organised, and Niki’s learned a thing or two about using new technologies too!
Pretty quickly it was Fatmata teaching me how to use technology. I know a lot more about Snapchat now than I ever expected I would! Niki - Mentor
Fatmata has also massively increased her ability to travel around London independently. She has gone from lacking the confidence to travel anywhere to being able to travel anywhere she likes with no challenge at all. Fatmata even recently travelled all the way to Glasgow in Scotland to visit a friend, a whole trip which she had planned on her own!
It feels good to be in the UK, being in a different environment and place, making new friends and family, getting to experience so many things. Fatmata - Mentee
Fatmata’s self-esteem and confidence have skyrocketed too, and she has joined a whole host of social activities. Niki helped Fatmata to join a dance group and a theatre group for young refugees, through which she has made lots of friends. Fatmata even gave a public speaking presentation to a large audience and performed in a show with Phosphorous Youth Theatre, where Niki was a very proud audience member.
Mentoring helped me out a lot. I learn how to open up more to people and make new friends, like in drama groups. I built my confidence and self esteem. Fatmata- Mentee
Niki also supported Fatmata to adapt to the UK school system, providing support with her college work and revision. Thanks to Fatmata’s hard work and Niki’s guidance, Fatmata successfully completed her GCSEs and is now studying Health and Social Care at college. She hopes to become a paediatric nurse in the future and is now on the right track to achieving this dream.
Having gained her refugee status, Fatmata has also started a part-time job alongside college and lives in semi-independent housing, managing all of this herself.
In addition to the practical support Niki provided during mentoring, she also supported Fatmata emotionally, providing her with a safe space to talk about the challenges she was facing and encouraging her to make her voice heard. This emotional support made all the difference for Fatmata:
I want to say thank you to Miss Niki for always giving me a listening ear and for always reminding me of who I am and for helping me build my confidence... Thanks for being a lovely soul , I’m really glad to know you and happy that you were my mentor. Fatmata - Mentee
Fatmata and Niki achieved an incredible amount during their seventeen months of mentoring together.
I’ve really enjoyed my sessions with Fatmata – she is a very conscientious person and it’s been great to see her progress over this time. Niki - Mentor
I would say I have achieved a lot and I can see a huge difference to how I was before. Fatmata - Mentee
Their relationship is a testament to the transformative power of mentoring to help a young person unlock their full potential and become the confident, empowered person they were always meant to be.
Your support could ensure that more young people like Fatmata receive the mentoring support they need to achieve their dreams.
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