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What is mentoring?
“There is no one universally accepted definition of mentoring. This is because the definition depends very much on why, where and with whom it is being used.”
—Mentoring & Befriending Foundation
“Mentoring is a goal oriented process that supports learning. It seeks to complement existing sources of learning, development and support.
“In general terms, mentoring is a form of learning; a process in which a (usually) more experienced person (the mentor) passes on know how to someone less experienced. Mentoring tends to focus on softer skills, problem solving, decision making and working with others, rather than technical competence. Mentoring captures the informal learning that happens in many different environments, making it an exceptionally effective option for businesses or organisations.”
—Glasgow Mentoring Network
“Mentoring is off line help (not done by someone with authority over the other, for example, a line manager) by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking.
“While coaching and mentoring share some tools and approaches, coaching relates primarily to performance improvement, often in a specific skills area. Mentoring is primarily focused on longer-term goals and relates to the identification and nurturing of potential for the whole person.
“It is the holistic nature of the mentoring role that distinguishes it from other learning or supporting roles.
“In practice, mentors provide a spectrum of learning and supporting behaviours, from challenging and being a critical friend to being a role model, from helping to build networks and develop personal resourcefulness to simply being there to listen, from helping people work out what they want to achieve, and why, to planning how they will bring change about.”
What is the difference between mentoring and befriending?
The difference between these two forms of support is usually the emphasis placed on goals. Mentoring tends to have a stronger emphasis on goal-setting and time limited work and less on the development of a social relationship. Befriending aims to provide a supportive social relationship where none exists and has less emphasis on goal-setting.
Learn more in our Resources section:
Where do you find mentoring schemes?
Schemes exist in a range of settings including schools and other educational establishments in support of young people who are at risk of exclusion from society and as part of voluntary and community schemes helping people to play a full part in their communities (perhaps refugees, disabled people, older people, lone parents) and in business and workplace settings to support professional and personal development. By using our mentoring map you can find out what mentoring projects are operating in Scotland
How can I become a member of the Scottish Mentoring Network?
To become a member please contact the Scottish Mentoring Network Office on 0141 225 8009 or email email@example.com. Or register your interest in becoming a member and find out about the benefits of being a member on our membership page.
Can I get support in setting up a new scheme?
Yes. We would love to hear from you if you are in the planning stages of your project – the earlier the better! We can help you with:
- Advice on funding applications
- Signposting to similar projects
- General advice on running your project
- Consultancy on project design
Helpful resources to get you started:
Who makes a good mentor?
Mentors range in age usually from 18 to 70+ (although in some cases they may be under 18), with a wide variety of life experiences and backgrounds). Sometimes people, who have worked with a mentor and have experienced the benefits, go on to become mentors themselves. A mentor may come from any walk of life and should be positive, reliable, a good listener, interested, approachable, non-judgemental and realistic.
What does a mentor do?
Some of the key tasks of a mentor may include:
- Get to know the client and let the client get to know them
- Listen to the client and discuss anything that is worrying them
- Value their opinions and beliefs
- Encourage them to achieve their objectives
- Talk about relevant experiences/problems they have overcome (if appropriate)
- Encourage clients to talk and think about their ambitions and hopes for the future and plan the steps needed to get there
- In particular, a mentor will work towards achieving positive change at a time of transition, through goal setting and motivation
What is peer mentoring?
Peer mentoring is when people mentor someone of a similar age or experience to themselves. So in a school context, older pupils support younger ones by meeting regularly and passing on their experience and advice. Peer mentoring offers young people the opportunity to develop their skills and qualities in a way that will prove beneficial to them. In a non-educational setting, peer mentoring is a powerful tool for raising the self-esteem of young people in a range of settings including Youth Services, looked after young people, volunteer centres, etc.
How can I become a volunteer mentor?
The Scottish Mentoring Network does not offer a matching service for mentors to organisations, however you can use our Mentoring Map to look for projects that you are interested in working with, and contact them directly: