One of the greatest challenges that we have seen is that many mentoring projects or programmes are unstructured. Whilst this may work in traditional forms of mentoring – let’s say when an aunty takes a girl under her wing and gives her advice when she needs it (and often whether she wants it or not!). However, if we are going to design and deliver mentoring programmes that are sustainable and effective for both mentors and mentees – those receiving mentoring – we need structure. 

What is mentoring?

From the beginning, it is essential that your mentee is clear about the purpose of mentoring. She needs to know what her mentor can and cannot do for her and understand the sessions’ goals. 

Building trust is essential and very difficult. Mentors must be committed to mentoring for a minimum period of time, and their training (not covered in this guide) needs to cover this in depth. 

Session plan structure

Ensure that you, as a mentor and your mentee, know how often your organisation expects you to meet. 

Also, to ensure meaningful engagement, please consider the following points to keep you on track:

  • Initial Icebreaker and recap from the previous session—for example, talk about the week or the high and low points.
  • Academic support—homework review or working on academic goals.
  • Personal development—select any of the activities in the toolkit.
  • Wrap up—review goals and (if applicable) agree on homework to be done for the next session.
  • Records of sessions– keep records of sessions held for future reference. 

Record Keeping

Without records, measuring what you and your mentee are achieving over time is hard. However, keeping records requires care and sensitivity. No one wants their personal information available to just anyone! 

Mentors and Youth Clubs should: 

  • Be clear about what the policy is on keeping records. If records are kept in your organisation, they should be. 
  • Tell your mentee. 
  • Your mentee should keep her own records (is possible). If you know that she doesn’t have a safe place to store these at home, then you may need a different solution

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