Mentor role is fulfilling

KARINA ABADIA
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2014
Lisa van den Burg
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: Brothers in Arms youth mentoring co-ordinator Lisa van den Burg says working with at-risk youth is as rewarding for the young person as it is for the mentor.

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Volunteering your time to help at-risk youth can be beneficial in more ways than one.

Brothers in Arms youth mentoring co-ordinator Lisa van den Burg says it's often a transformative experience for both parties.

"What's amazing for me is seeing the changes not just for the young people but also for their mentors. It's fulfilling for them to see the young people grow in confidence."

The charitable trust performs an important role because it creates connections where they might not have otherwise formed, she says.

"In the past young people used to have a lot of contact with neighbours and community members who would provide positive role models, but that doesn't exist as much anymore."

The youth who take part in the programme are aged from 9 to 15 years old. They might be referred to the trust because they are involved in crime, are being bullied at school or are going through difficult times at home.

People are matched based on their interests and proximity to each other and the mentor is someone they can talk to and rely on, Miss van den Burg says.

The pair meet once a week for a minimum of a year, but often the bonds are long-lasting.

A lot of the people who were matched in 2007 when Brothers in Arms was set up are still in touch with each other, although maybe not as regularly as they once were, she says.

The trust is organising the Beach Day 2014 event at Kohimarama Yacht Club on Saturday from 10am to 2pm.

It's a chance for participants and their families to get together and anyone interested in becoming a mentor is welcome to attend.

Go to brothersinarms.org.nz for more information.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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