I first became involved with Cherished in my third year of studying for a degree in “Working with Children, Young People and Families” Newman university. I’d already completed a placement with Samaritans, but wanted to change direction as I struggled with not giving advice to callers. While looking online I found a link to Cherished on the volunteering site “Do It”, I was intrigued by the idea of becoming a mentor, but equally felt unsure that I’d have enough experiences to mentor someone well. Like most things, I decided to run it past my own university mentor and weigh up the pros and cons of contacting Hannah and applying. My mentor rightly pointed out that by having mentoring myself, I could already empathise and understand what some of my potential girls might be feeling when entering a mentoring relationship with me. That was the perfect prod that I needed to get my application in, and meet with Hannah to see if I’d be a good fit with Cherished. That was way back in October 2015, so what am I doing now?
Currently, I mentor in primary school, and help out fortnightly at Blossom in Sutton Coldfield. I’ve also mentored in secondary schools, sometimes plan sessions for Blossom, and helped with planning for Cherished conferences. I know that sounds like a heck of a lot of stuff, but that’s how infectious the Cherished spirit is, and proof that when kind, caring and committed individuals come together we can achieve amazing things. Don’t let my list of things I’ve done put you off applying yourself though, you can get involved with as many Cherished things as you want to, no pressure! My favourite parts of being involved with Cherished are the conferences, I really enjoy seeing the day grow from just ideas on paper, to a huge room full of girls, inspirational speakers, Cherished leaders, and teachers all wanting to tackle issues facing girls today in 21st Century Britain. I’ve even managed to get my little sister Fran involved in the Cherished good vibes and positivity, she designed the logo used for our first “Super Movers” conference last Summer. It was definitely a #proudbigsister moment wearing and seeing other leaders wear her design on t-shirts.
Being involved with Cherished has also helped me personally when dealing with my own anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Having mental health professionals chuck labels on to you can really effect your sense of self confidence and self esteem, I know it did me. Being a mentor has not only allowed me to use my experiences to help girls in the same position as me, but also realise despite the labels I have I still have a worth and good things to offer. Also that when I’m able to I’d like to go back to work either in a mentoring capacity or as a volunteer/engagement coordinator for a small charity like Cherished. I’ve done so many things that if you’d asked me whether I could do them back in October 2015 my response would have probably been: “What me walk into a secondary school, get up and lead a session for teenagers, or talk about my mental health? God no I could never do that”. Except I can and I have! I can’t wait to carry on my journey with Cherished, and use my story to help empower other girls and young women. Our stories have power, and I’m using mine for good, it’s like being a superhero with less of the capes and tights. If I can use my story for good, I bet you can too, go on apply and amaze yourself with where Cherished can take you!
By Lucy Beare, Cherished Mentor