Bridging the Gap Mentoring recruits trains and supports volunteers to help people at risk of homelessness, offending and addiction. All of our trained volunteers are supported by a professional supervisor. We match volunteer mentors with mentees who have self-referred or have been referred through an agency. We encourage self-referral, but will also ask for supporting information from an agency, to ensure the suitability of the partnership and the safety of volunteers.
Our services can support people across London, and they are free. Our policies and procedures meet the Approved Provider Standard for mentoring and befriending administered by the National Council of Voluntary Organisations. All partnerships follow our Guidelines which help keep everyone within safe boundaries.
To find out more, please call us on 0800 488 0746 or email Robin at [email protected].
Who can we help?
We encourage self-referral, because this is an entirely voluntary process. Service users will need to meet their volunteer mentor regularly at agreed times and places. This can be any public place at any time that is convenient for both service user and mentor. We are currently supporting virtual and COVID-19 safe partnerships through online meetings using Zoom and WhatsApp.
This is a mentoring relationship. It is more structured than be-friending, but less structured than training or teaching. It will suit people who wish or need to make a change in their life. For example:
- Moving into a flat
- Sorting out benefits or budgets
- Getting training or employment
- Leaving prison
Note that it is important that the service user believes that they need to make a change. This might be because they know they need to get a job or leave a hostel. If a worker believes that a change is needed but the service user has not come to that opinion themselves, the mentoring partnership may not be successful.
How do we help?
Our volunteer mentors meet service users regularly, once a week. They provide a single consistent relationship, which can be important for building up trust and developing a better understanding of the problems which a service user faces.
The service user will identify goals they would like to work towards and through the partnerships will make progress and review regularly. The meetings are person centred and goal focused. Volunteer mentors use an outcomes evaluation star technique to help a service user identify and meet their goals. We have found the meetings to be most effective when they complement the service provided by an agency. The meetings are not trying to replace or duplicate services, but work in conjunction to provide someone with the motivation and encouragement to make changes.
Volunteer mentors meet people in any convenient public place. This is usually a coffee shop, but it can also be at a library or they may go with the service user to an office or an appointment.
Every volunteer mentor has an experienced supervisor who will phone them every week and meet them once a month. This ensures that volunteers feel supported and that mentors are encouraged to respond appropriately to any issues that arise.
If a service user already has a caseworker/ key worker/ advisor why refer them for mentoring?
- If the user needs consistent support to fill in a form/ get information beyond the support that a single advisor can give
- If a user would benefit from a single consistent relationship which the existing service cannot provide
- If the advisor/worker feels that they are not getting a full understanding of the users problems and thinks that a consistent separate relationship might help the user to say more
- If it would help for someone to go with the service user to official appointments
- If the user needs help to get out and about and participate in social events
- If the user needs specialist help – i.e. has difficulty speaking English.
- If the user needs consistent support through a process, like getting a job or starting a course
Who we may not be able to help?
We help people who are over 18 years old and under 65.
We cannot help people who have been violent or threatening. There may be exceptions if we can arrange meetings in a supported environment or the violence is connected with drinking or is in the distant past.
We can help single adults or small families (adult and child) but not families of two adults and children.
We cannot help people we cannot contact regularly (e.g. who do not have a phone) – but we have a freephone number for people who have a phone but no credit.
How long will it take?
It normally takes up to 4 weeks to get the partnership set up and for you to have your first meeting. The mentoring lasts for 16 weeks/ 4 months. We will keep service users and referrers regularly informed.
To discuss a possible referral
Discuss the referral with your service user. Encourage them to fill in the contact form or contact us via phone or email. If you have decided that you would like to refer someone, then please download this leaflet and form:
Once we have received the referral form, we will contact the service user and start the process of finding a suitable volunteer mentor to the service user, based on their interests and the clients’ needs.
If the service users behaviour is unstable or unusual, then we will only suggest a mentoring partnership if we find a mentor who seems able to accept any challenges this poses. We will try to find a partnership, even though we may not succeed rather than giving an outright refusal. But, there may be a delay.
We offer a period of up to 16 weeks of mentoring. We feel it is better to have a clear limit because this should be a goal oriented partnership – friendly but not unlimited support.
Concerns raised by either mentors or referrers should be shared to the supervisor. This is to make sure that the supervisor is kept up to date and ensure the volunteer has consistent support.
We ask our mentors to follow standard policies and advice, to find these please follow this link.
We will only use information in order to arrange mentoring and we will ask your permission before sharing it with anyone else. For more information on how data is treated please follow this link.