Elise is a Live-In Mentor with Anglicare Victoria. We spoke to Elise about what the role involves and why she loves helping young people build independent living skills.
How long have you been a Live-In Mentor for and what attracted you to the role?
I have always had an interest in the Live-In Youth Mentoring program. This sounded like an innovative program with good outcomes for young people so I decided one day I would consider joining the program when I was in a position to do so.
What is a typical day like for you in the house and what sort of things do you do each day?
As with any share-house it has its up and downs, but the majority of the time the house ebbs and flows with everyday life. This is of course dependent on who is living in the house at the time. Some of the young people can come with quite complex needs that may be challenging. Your ability to communicate, stay calm, and remain positive are essential for the role. If you are a perfectionist, can’t handle a bit of teenage mess or don’t like music, it may not be for you. However, the majority of young people are usually responsive to polite reasonable requests, and appreciate being treated like a young adult with responsibilities and skills that they will need to practice for ‘the real world’.
The types of things that you may assist young people with (if asked) are usually quite basic things like ‘how do I work the washing machine, or how long do chops and mashed potatoes take to cook?’ It is worth keeping in mind that many young people that come through Anglicare’s doors may have missed out on some of the basic living skills that most of us take for granted.
How do you fit being a Live-In Mentor into to your lifestyle? I.e. with work or studying or when you want to take a break or go out?
Due to the fact that you live in the house with another Live-In Mentor there is a certain amount of flexibility and freedom to work, study or go out socially. I have a great Co Live-In Mentor that believes in forward planning and we co-ordinate with each other so that each of us are able to meet our lifestyle requirements. So long as there is plenty of communication and planning, it is quite possible to get away for a bit of a break.
What is the most rewarding thing about your role? Conversely, what is the hardest? Is there support there for you from Anglicare Victoria staff if things get hard?
I think the most rewarding element of the volunteer role is being able to provide young people with the chance to move forward, test the water, and learn new living skills within a supportive environment before they turn 18 and become fully independent.
It can also give you the chance to save up for something substantial like a house, car or holiday as you are able to save money without having the financial burden of rent and utilities. Conversely, some of the harder things about the role are the limitations within the home environment. All people over 18 who visit must be police checked by Anglicare, this applies to the young people as well and is in place for safety reasons. This could be restrictive for many people, especially if they like to have friends ‘just drop by for a chat’. This is difficult for someone with a spontaneous nature. Things such as throwing a party or BBQ need to be planned outside of the house.
Sometimes the young person’s issues may be quite complex and outside of your life experiences and world-view. If or when these things occur you can call Anglicare and get assistance and support to work through these issues. I also have great communication with my Co Live-In Mentor and we will both de-brief each other in our own style.
You are not expected to be the young person’s worker as the young people will have a care-team supporting them. Your role is to provide a safe and supportive environment that fosters positive role modelling and encourages personal growth. Anglicare also run some comprehensive training that will help you to understand the issues young people face as well as what you might expect as a Live-In Mentor.
What would you say to other people considering becoming a Live-In Mentor?
The role is a great opportunity to give something back to the community and is all about forming rewarding relationships that foster trust and respect. It certainly pays to have resilience and a good sense of humour, but by sharing some of your personal time and space, you are creating opportunities for young people to grow and experience success, which is reward within itself.
To find out more about the Live-In Mentor Program please contact us:
- Southern Metro & Gippsland Region – 9293 8500
- Eastern Metro Region – 1300 889 335
- North West Metro Region – 8470 9999