Monica has been friends with Jayden for over a year and she can see how her support makes a difference.
“I applied to volunteer as a mentor for Friendship Works because I really wanted to be able to support a child in my local area who needed help. I was paired with Jayden over a year ago and it’s been a real journey. It’s been such a fantastic experience for me, and I am pleased to be able to raise money for Friendship Works now too as a fundraiser: this year I even decided to run the London 10k to raise funds to help other children like Jayden find mentors.
“When I first signed up as a mentor I thought that I would get on better with an older child, and when I heard about Jayden I asked to be matched with him straight away, as I felt I could connect with his situation. He is a relatively quiet member of a big family, and that is definitely something I could relate to. Jayden is in his teens, and we have now found a lot of common ground, such as going on scary rides at theme-parks and watching action films.
“We were both a bit nervous in the early days, but over time we have become more relaxed with each other. We sometimes talk about stuff, but he is often quiet when he is with me. At first I found it difficult to be sure that Jayden enjoyed going on outings with me as it’s not the sort of thing he would talk about, but as I have got to know him better I have realised that he wouldn’t turn up if he didn’t want to meet me.
“I think that our friendship is important to him because I am someone he can trust and who won’t judge him. He has a lot of different people involved in his and his family’s life and sometimes he needs a break to think about other things. I am pleased to know that when Jayden is with me he doesn’t have to worry about what people think of him and that he is comfortable enough to just sit quietly if that is what he wants to do.
“Being his mentor is really important to me as I think Jayden is great. He is a kind person who cares about other people. Mentoring has given the opportunity to do something different from my job in an area that I enjoy. It has also helped me to understand how much everyone deserves a happy childhood, and I am pleased to play a part in helping Jayden have that.
“Most of my friends and family know about Friendship Works as they are used to me turning down Sunday lunch invitations because I want to take Jayden to the cinema instead. They all know how important mentoring is to me and when I decided to run to support Friendship Works, many of them were keen to sponsor me in order to support the work of the charity.
“Friendship Works spends a lot of time getting to know mentors and the families they work with, and I was grateful for the extent of the training I had before meeting Jayden as it meant that I knew what to expect and what he would expect from me. My caseworker has always been supportive of me and talked me through any difficulties I have had. I appreciate the fact that the charity makes its volunteers feel valued and that caseworkers are always on hand for help and advice. I would definitely recommend mentoring to other people, and I hope that I will be able to carry on being Jayden’s mentor for a long time yet.”