There is a bitter-sweet irony attached to the graduation ceremonies that always become increasingly sensitive as we work our way through the names and achievements that accompany the awarding of certificates. Although these well attended events turn the Council Chamber into an environment of infectious praise, it is in reality the start and finish of a close and often hard won partnership that ends in celebration but also with a final contribution from the mentors.
I shall never forget the fond gaze and whispered words of “will you still love me” from a bright eyed little lad who with the inspirational help of his mentor had made it through from doubt and disruptive behaviour, to an acceptance that they had worked at together and achieved as a team.
The Chance UK mentor is a type of person that I have encountered many times at these ceremonies with qualities well beyond the anticipation of care and compassion. It could be that there is as much in it for them as the giving of their time might offer to others, with the rapport experienced in different ways and often by individuals who share neither background, age or ethnicity, but the common denominator of defeat for an emotional handicap and the feelings of hurt and mistrust.
Because over time they become the owners of their own behaviour and seeing in their mentors a person that they might become if the blemishes of early development can be tackled together, in rescuing a life and redirecting energies for the good and benefit of others.
The task for the mentor is to find out what’s behind the behaviour because people are seldom upset for the reasons they think. We often decide to upset ourselves, become annoyed and then angry and blame it on the behaviour of others. In reality, we decide to upset ourselves and as the mentors quickly discover it’s a long way back for someone so young to realise that there is another way but many find it with the perseverance of their mentors.
In real monetary terms what they achieve at this early stage will reduce the heavy burden of correction for a society still struggling to cope with the unacceptable; with solutions still not available by chance but rather with the motivational enterprise of mentors and the work of Chance UK.