Volunteer Mentors

A volunteer Mentor is a positive role model, who is there to guide and advise, striving to meet set goals to help young people achieve their potential

What Is A Mentor?

We have all had mentors in the past… Who mentored you? Not sure? It may just be that you have not been aware; but what about the teacher who you always remember, the work colleague or boss who was always in your corner, or the relative or friend who helped you out? They have made a difference to your life.

Who have you mentored already? Again, you may just not have been aware that you’ve done this for someone. Have you helped someone out in the past? Lent them your ear over a coffee? YOU ARE ALREADY A MENTOR!

Asset 20

What Help Do Young People Need?

You may think that you won’t be able to make a difference, but simply being there for a young person every week is sometimes all the difference they need. Supporting with school, relationships, achievements, hobbies, interests and talents are all part of a protective process in making a difference to a young person

Young People Need:

Just someone to talk to!

Help to refocus on school attendance or achievements

Help to make new friends

Help to find hobbies, interests and talents

Help in staying away from risk taking behaviour, gangs etc

What Do YLF Mentors Do?


Offer one-to-one support to young people and their families, to improve their lives

Meet regularly with their young person at school or at one of our hubs, typically over a 6 month period

Offer motivation, guidance and encouragement to reach an agreed set of goals such as improving school attendance or improving relationships at home

Care Leaver Mentors

Offer one-to-one support to those who have recently left care and are living independently

Meet as often as required at the care leavers accommodation or within the community such as the supermarket or coffee shop

Offer guidance and support with life skills, such as budgeting, healthy eating or job hunting

Read more about the Care Leavers Programme here →
Asset 2

What Support and Training is There?

You will be warmly welcomed into the YLF team who truly value you and your time.

YLF delivers a thorough training course to all applicants to ensure you are fully equipped. YLF will provide:

  • training focused on core skills, safeguarding and role specifics
  • supervision to ensure that your skills are always to maximum impact
  • an open door policy with the invitation to visit us at our hubs at any time
  • invitations to social events so all volunteers have the chance to meet and share experiences
  • opportunities to support our charity in other ways such as participation in fundraising events
  • support towards additional training or courses to develop your skills or careers

And lastly you won’t be out of pocket. YLF reimburses all authorised expenses including mileage.

Meet The Mentoring Team


Mentoring Programmes Manager


Senior Schools Mentoring Coordinator


Leaving Care Mentoring Coordinator


Mentoring Coordinator


East Kent Services Coordinator

Asset 44

Am I Suitable to Volunteer?

With a commitment of at least six months to the role and a genuine passion for improving the lives of young people and families, you are already suitable!

We require someone who can be a positive role model for young people, a champion of their needs, interests and aspirations and someone who can listen and offer encouragement.

There are some FAQ’s at the bottom of this page to help you further, or just call us to discuss any concerns you have.

What People Say

“Without my mentor I would probably still be a mess. She gave me the chance to sort my life out.” Jen, young person

“It was lovely to meet you yesterday. Just wanted to say that in the short time I have known the lads, I have never seen them so animated as they were when talking to you yesterday. I just wanted to thank you in advance for all you are doing for them, you are the perfect person to be their mentor. I know they appreciate it and it will be great for them.” Anon

“I’m so proud of her. She has done really well. I have seen a change in her confidence and she now enjoys going to school and her new cadets club.” Olivia, volunteer mentor

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a mentor?


A Mentor is an adult volunteer who motivates, guides and supports disadvantaged young people or care leavers identified as at risk or disadvantaged and who would benefit from a 1:1 intervention and someone independent to talk to.

A Mentor helps young people or care leavers towards the achievement of positive goals.

What is the purpose of mentoring and why are mentors needed?


Some young people are from socially disadvantaged backgrounds and are in need of extra support and guidance from a positive and trustworthy adult role model; our mentors provide help and support to these young people.

The one thing that all the young people we work with have in common is low self esteem; by helping young people to discover activities and new skills, we can really help them to become resilient,  and improve and achieve in many areas of their lives.

What does a mentor do?


Each mentor is matched with a young person or care leaver that they have something in common with, perhaps a shared hobby. The first couple of weeks of the arrangement are about developing a trusting relationship; this gives the mentor an opportunity to find out more about the young person or care leaver and the type of goals that they might like to achieve over the six month mentoring period.

Each young person has individual needs so the support you will offer may vary. For young people receiving mentoring through our HeadStart programme, this could include encouraging them to attend school on a full time basis, join a club, supporting them with reading skills. For care leavers it may be to understand how to live independently, such as cooking healthy meals, budgeting, finding a job or reducing isolation and loneliness.

What sort of people do we help?


The young people and care leavers we help are from socially disadvantaged backgrounds or vulnerable; this may mean they struggle at school, are at risk of offending or they are neither in education or employment.

Young people under HeadStart are all aged between 8 and 17 years of age and live across Kent, the care leavers we mentor are within the Medway area. They are referred to us by HeadStart Kent, or by their Personal Advisor. They have all volunteered to be mentored and our aim is to give them every opportunity to reach their full potential.

How much time do I need to give and when will I be required?


The minimum requirement for HeadStart mentors is a weekly meeting of 2 to 3 hours over a period of 4 to 6 months. Also, telephone calls, letters and emails are all contact methods that can be used to supplement the weekly meetings. You may be needed to meet during the day or evening but always at a convenient time for yourself and the young person.

As care leavers need different levels of support, you may be asked if you are able to visit a care leaver anywhere between once a week or once a month, with phone calls in between. We ask volunteers if they can initially commit to once a week, as they would need to build a trusting relationship and to help build the care leaver’s independent living skills. The aim is to give them the knowledge and skills to live independently, and reduce the frequency of visits slowly, with more phone support in-between visits. The meetings can be weekdays, evenings or weekends, dependent on what the visit is about. But meetings and phone contact is always at a convenient time for yourself and the care leaver.

We ask for a minimum of a 6-month commitment, however some arrangements may finish earlier or go on longer.

How much will it cost me?


Nothing other than your time. All authorised expenses are reimbursed, including travel.

How do you match me to a young person and what is the process?


The matching process is taken very seriously by your Coordinator and you will be carefully matched with a young person with whom you will have at least one shared common interest.

We discuss with all volunteers during their accreditation interview any preferences they may have taking into consideration your hobbies, interests, geography, skills, and your personal wishes and feelings as well.

How will I know what to do and what not to do?


Don’t worry, full training is provided, totaling 10 to 12 hours. There is a short monthly diary form and expenses claim to fill in, with regular meetings to review progress.

A mentoring handbook is also provided that covers the role of a mentor, policies and procedures, safeguarding, as well as useful information about how to carry out your role well.


What if I need help?


A mentoring handbook includes all you should need to know about mentoring. Back-up telephone support from your Coordinator is provided, and a handy emergency contact card. All volunteers receive supervision and if you require more support a one-to-one meeting in person can be arranged as well as support via phone and email as regularly as required.

In addition, there will be a number of informal social gatherings where mentors can meet and share their experiences. There is also a private YLF Facebook group that you are invited to join where we share stories, tips and useful information.

What if I don’t get on with the care leaver or one of us has to move?


Don’t worry, this rarely happens. You will be carefully matched with the young person you are mentoring. However, if it really doesn’t work out on either side we would support the closure of the arrangement and organise a new pairing.

If either the mentor or young person moves away from the area, the formal mentoring arrangement would end. However if you were still within reasonable travelling distance, we would explore how the arrangement might continue.

Do I need to have a DBS check or any other background checks?


Yes. All volunteers are required to complete an enhanced DBS form; we also seek
a reference from your current employer and two others (whom you have known for over 5 years).

How do I apply?


You would need to complete and return an application, safeguarding and data protection form (there is also an optional equal opportunities form).

You can apply directly online here, or download these forms from our Resources page and send them by:

Email | volunteering@ylf.org.uk

Post | YLF Volunteering, 71 College Road, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6SX

If you require hard copies, they are available upon request.

What Next?

Asset 28

Apply to Mentor

Apply online now to become a Mentor

Asset 14

Get an Info Pack

Head to the resources page to view the Mentor info pack

Asset 19

Other Opportunities

Head back to the main volunteer page to check out the other roles