Volunteers and young people, together with the educational team, are the three pillars on which the accompaniment of boys and girls under and out of guardianship is built. Volunteering is a personal and collective growth experience, that leaves a mark on whoever does it.
At Punt de Referència, until October 31, 2022, we had 106 volunteers and, currently, we have three new volunteer groups in training: two in Barcelona city and one in Maresme county. We are also opening two more new groups, one in Vallés county and another in Barcelona. And, at the beginning of 2023, we plan to open one more group in Maresme. So, it is a good time to gather the meaning of becoming a volunteer and thus share the experience with people who may be interested in volunteering. Many of Punt de Referència volunteers have previously considered the life experience potential of accompanying boys and girls out of guardianship, while others value it once they have experienced it. But for all of them, being part of Punt de Referència means:
1. To know and put social mentoring into practice. This is much more than establishing a relationship between people who voluntarily offer themselves to provide support and promote the autonomy of youth in and out of care. Being a mentor means accompanying a formerly guarded boy or girl during their daily life, building trusting bonds, watching their growth, helping them make decisions and, most importantly, becoming a person who feels that a different and better future it’s possible.
2. To be accompanied and advised. All social mentoring processes are carried out through accompaniment and receive the professional advice and support of Punt de Referència educational team.
What do I get for accompanying youth out of guardianship? Roser summarizes the essence of social mentoring in this way: “For me, working in a three-way partnership (project, youth and volunteers) is essential for a comprehensive adaptation of in and out of care youth in society”. Now that new mentoring groups are opening, it is time to share the experiences lived by others:
Mireia: “It has allowed me to discover other realities and other ways of relating to them, from respect and listening”.
Carme: “Accompanying this young man has given me knowledge, satisfaction, empathy and flexibility”.
Anna: “It has offered me the opportunity to accompany a young boy out of guardianship during a short period of his life and help him to get ahead with his degree. At the same time, I have been able to explore the side of offering support from empathy. It has made me reflect and experience the difficulties and the value of being there, respecting the decisions and the space of the other, without carrying their responsibilities”.
Jordi: “I have been able to establish a relationship with young people who really need to have reference relationships. And I have received support to understand what this relationship can be like, and guidance how to act to make it easier for the relationship to be good”.
Mentors consider that learning has been mutual and bidirectional. This is what Eva declares: “I take many lessons from mentoring. I have discovered another reality”, or Lluís who says that accompanying young people to continue post-mandatory studies has allowed him “a change of perspective regarding the situation of young immigrants”. His opinion is shared by Anna when she says that being a mentor “has allowed me to be aware of the reality that a group of people who live with me in the same city has had to endure” and, at the same time, “to feel proud to be part of a project, that is very beautiful and has great social impact, from an association with a structure and very well organized such as Punt de Referència”.