“The best thing about being a mentor is the effect you see on the young person. You soon notice a dramatic change in their confidence, the way they talk to you and relate to others,” says Mike Johnson, Volunteer SMASH mentor.
[Help raise money for SMASH – see story below]
“My worry before starting was how I was going to relate to a 15 year old and what would happen if we didn’t get on. But it’s been so easy to strike up a relationship. What all these young people want and need is a stable adult to talk to – that’s what they all say. Someone to talk to who turns up when they say they will.
“It is a big commitment – a couple of hours each week for a year. But you can be flexible; obviously you have holidays and may travel with work. As long as the young person knows what’s going on then they understand.”
Mike has also been hugely impressed by the level of support given to volunteer mentors by the staff at SMASH. “There are project workers trained in working with young people who are available 24/7 if anything does go wrong," he added. "So you aren’t matched with a young person and left to get on with it, you get really good training and ongoing support.”
“It’s also really good fun for the mentors,” says Rob Chappell, Managing Director of SMASH. “We always talk about what the young person gets but most mentors also try out new activities – ask Mike about the climbing wall experience – and learn new skills.”
“What the young people most appreciate is someone who sees them as something other than a problem that needs fixing; someone who sees them as the hopeful, healthy, creative people they really are.”
Since 1999, the SMASH Youth Project has helped over 1,000 young people to achieve personal goals and fulfill their potential. Through a one-to-one, year long, mentoring relationship our committed volunteers support, advise and listen so that our young people begin to become everything they can be, sometime when no one else believes they can.
The next mentor training starts in the Autumn so get in touch now if you are interested.
Pictured by Richard Wintle of Calyx, SMASH mentees Luke Withington, Abdul Kareem, Charley Bean, above.
Bottom, striving for more with Nuffield Health instructors Junni Scott and Fatou Njie
Nuffield Health at Greenbridge have become a SMASH partner by providing access to their facilities to mentors and mentees
Smash supporters wanted to launch its first ever dosh dash (with style) along The Ridgeway
Smash is holding its first ever Smash Dash for Cash on a 10 mile course around Barbury Castle on Sunday 7 September.
Individuals, families or a team can enter and they can get round on foot, on a bike, on a horse, hopping, dancing, in a pram or behind a team of huskies – any means is acceptable, so long as you don’t use an engine.
There will be prizes for the first individual and the first team to finish, the oldest, and the youngest participants.
The two top prizes will be reserved for the person or team completing the course in the most style and for the person or team who raise the most money.
Rob Chappell, managing director of Smash, said: “All the children and young people who work with Smash have chosen to do so themselves and have decided that it is time for change.
“Lots will have suffered traumas like bereavement or abuse while others may be being bullied at school or have problems at home, or in the neighbourhoods in which they live.
“Young people who work with Smash can start to tell a new story about themselves, not as problems that need fixing but a story about energetic, creative, hopeful and healthy young people who just need a little encouragement and support to become everything they want to be. Smash believes in Swindon’s young people when sometimes no one else does.”
Smash currently has some lottery funding but £50,000 has to be raised by the charity this year to match the lottery grant.
Nuffield Health have offered gym memberships and full health MOT’s for all the SMASH Dash prize winners. There’s also dinner for two at the Blunsdon House and a £100 toiletries hamper to be won.
The dash prizes are being sponsored by Nuffield Health so that all your cash will go to Smash.
Find out more and register to take part at smashyouthproject.co.uk