Meet the Volunteers: Quen
Quen: I’ve been volunteering as a mentor for about 18 months now.
‘How did you find out about Children Heard and Seen (CHAS)?’
Q: So I saw an article in the local newspaper, and I was impressed by what CHAS were doing. They were asking for more volunteers and it struck me at that time that it was something I potentially could do so I thought I’d give it a go.
‘What do you think are the benefits to the child you support?’
Q: An experience like having a parent in prison casts a big cloud over a childhood. The most important thing you can do as a mentor, is to encourage a child that they’re not defined by that experience and that they have immense potential. All the wonderful opportunities that are there in the world exist for them, as much as anyone else. I think that’s kind of what our role is really – to give a safe space where the child can feel they’re listened to and respected as an individual.
‘What is your favourite memory as a mentor?’
Q: It’s been good so over the year we’ve built up a good rapport. The early bit was good to feel accepted by this person as someone they wanted to see. Since then it’s been good, when we’ve had a particular task that’s been quite good fun. Recently we were shopping for flowers for Mother’s Day and that was quite entertaining.
‘Do you feel supported by CHAS?’
Q: Initially there was some training which covered safeguarding and that gives you a sense of reassurance that you know what to do and who to contact if you’ve got concerns. Then there’s regular contact with the volunteer manager, which is great – plenty of opportunity to feedback and talk about different issues. There’s also a diverse community of volunteers and it feels great to be part of that community.
‘What do you think makes a good mentor?’
Q: A lot of people might worry that they’re not the right kind of person to be a mentor, or that they don’t have the right experience or qualifications. I think the only qualification you really need is that you care about making a difference to someone, therefore people are mentoring from all kinds of different backgrounds, experiences and it’s a rich and wide range of people.