Case Study: Elizabeth & Joshua

Inside Out Mentor: Elizabeth

What do you, the volunteer, get out of it?
Keeping your eyes open, you try to carry people on your back, over your shoulder, through danger, fear, confusion and set them down safely. When it works, you feel you are using your gifts in accordance with the maker’s instructions!

What is the best/worst thing about mentoring?
The best is that it’s good to see people healing. The ‘worst’ is firstly, confronting the effects of damaged pasts twenty years too late. Secondly, knowing that their experiences, impoverishments and the structure of society in general are weighted 70% against their survival on the outside. Thirdly, having to work with the built-in rigidity, intransigence and intractability of the prison system and welfare state, necessary though they may be. Still worth it though.

Why would you recommend volunteering?
An ounce of help is worth a pound of pity.

Inside Out Mentee: Joshua

What challenges have you faced?
I have experienced numerous challenges to date. With regards to the mentor scheme I have faced none.

What have you enjoyed about having a mentor?
I have enjoyed the formal meetings (especially at the coffee shop!); I have also enjoyed the support network that having a mentor allows you to have.

What have you learnt about yourself?
I have learnt that if I help myself then others would be more willing to assist me.

What difference has having a mentor made to your life?
The transition from custody back into the community was challenging. Having a mentor during this time really helped as I knew my mentor prior to release.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Elizabeth has gone above and beyond her role as my mentor. She has helped me through a very critical period in my life and yet, it is not something she has had to do. Elizabeth is a kind, considerate and thoughtful person and I cherish the constructive criticism she has presented upon me. I will endeavour to remain in contact (where appropriate), and I sincerely hope that she continues to support others in the way she has with me.

Case Study: Tim & Steve

Inside Out Mentor: Tim

What difficulties have you faced as a mentor?
The system is overloaded and creaking. It’s a huge challenge. Outside connections for the ex-prisoners are poor which leaves them frustrated. You need courage as it’s bloody difficult outside.

What have you enjoyed?
Very satisfying to make a little bit of difference in someone’s life.

What have you learnt about yourself?

How lucky I am. I wonder how I would cope in the same situation as an ex-prisoner. I am grateful for the upbringing I had.

What do you get out of Mentoring?
I get a sense of fulfilment in giving something back.

Inside Out Mentee: Steve

What challenges have you faced?

When I got out I moved to a new area with the help of the Community Chaplaincy I got housed by Stepping Stones. It was very lonely and the only familiar face was Tim. I went back to prison to meet with the prison minister to share my experience.

What have you enjoyed about the experience?

Having a mentor has been valuable as he’s not judging but keeps encouraging. I’m enjoying Tim’s friendship and he’s the only person I have kept in contact with from last year.

What have you learnt about yourself?
To believe in myself and take it one day at a time. Since my release I have reduced my medication and i’m preparing to go on detox.

What difference has having a mentor made to your life?
It’s made a big difference and I have been encouraged to get back in contact with my family and I have even gone to Church a few times.

Is there anything you would like to add?
When I was released I had gate anxiety, but through the Community Chaplaincy I was steered in the right direction and if it were not for Tim I don’t know where I would be. I’m grateful for the opportunity and I would encourage others to keep an open mind and try the mentoring programme. It does help.

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