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MATES make big difference - More locals needed to mentor young people in Kyabram

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March 14, 2018

Tamara Evans and her MATES mentor Kath Corrigan have been meeting up for three years now.

IF YOU’VE got the time, why not find a MATE?

The MATES Youth Mentoring Program run by Campaspe Youth Partnership is putting the call out for more locals to join the team.

The program connects school students with a positive volunteer role model who can help them enhance their life experiences through sharing common interests, developing skills and setting goals for their lives.

And for St Augustine’s student Tamara Evans, it’s a program that has helped her as she began her VCE studies.

“It’s been good to have someone to sit down with each week and just have a chat to them,” she said.

“It’s been good because she’s not someone from my school life or home life and we can just sit here in my study periods and chat.”

It’s been a beneficial relationship for both Tamara and her mentor, Kath Corrigan, and they’ve been meeting up at St Augustine’s for about three years now.

Kath said she saw the opportunity and thought she’d be able to contribute.

“I was always interested in how people of different ages interact; I’ve been a carer for most of my life so I’ve worked with everyone,” Kath said.

“And we’ve both learned something off one another, she tried to teach me chess but I failed, but she did teach me how to use Facebook.”

The program allows the mentor and mentee to work out a time that would suit them to meet up, and there’s no set structure.

“It’s very flexible, I never felt like there was any expectation to reach some impossible goals — we don’t set goals, we just chat,” Kath said.

“It’s a bit of a commitment but because it’s during school hours and not over the school holidays it’s easy to work in, we find a time that suits us both.

“I think it’s just about being a friend without being intrusive.

“But that being said I went along to her Year 10 formal, saw her artworks at exhibitions and watched her in the production because she wanted me to be there.”

Project officer Cheryl Sweeney said the program is about providing relationships which are beneficial to both the mentor and the student.

“MATES is an acronym for Mentor, Assist, Target, Engage and Skills, as these are all important aspects of this program,” Cheryl said.

“The program isn’t about setting any major goals or setting out to drastically change the student’s life,” Cheryl said.

“It’s about providing a structured and trusting relationship that brings young people together with caring adults who offer guidance, support and encouragement.”

All mentors will need a working with children check and to comply with child safety standards.

Kyabram Community and Learning Centre can offer assistance with the application process and a working with children check is free for volunteers.

Mentors will be trained during two two-hour sessions — times and dates will be decided when all mentors have applied.

This training will provide the potential mentors with information about the program and develop skills suitable for the mentoring role.

If you are over 18, can commit to one hour per week and are interested in making a difference in the life of a young person, please contact Cheryl Sweeney on 0400896295.

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