Smashing barriers to help youngsters

This Is Wiltshire: Young people from SMASH walking the Ridgeway with their mentors Young people from SMASH walking the Ridgeway with their mentors

A CHARITY which aims to give young people the chance to realise their dreams against the odds is looking for a new team of mentors.

SMASH has been bringing young people at risk together with willing and committed volunteers who can support, advise and listen to them since 1999.

Now SMASH, which stands for Swindon Mentoring And Self Help, is looking to recruit its 30th team of mentors with the next training course beginning on June 28.

People don’t need any special skills to become a SMASH mentor, just some time, a little worldly wisdom and the desire to help someone to change their life for the better. There are currently more than 30 young people on the waiting list who need someone to mentor them.

Mike Johnson, already a mentor with SMASH, said: “The best thing about being a mentor is the effect you see on the young person. You soon notice a dramatic change in their confidence, the way they talk to you and relate to others.

“My worry before starting was how I was going to relate to a 15-year-old and what would happen if we didn’t get on.

“But it’s been so easy to strike up a relationship.

“What all these young people want and need is a stable adult to talk to – that’s what they all say. Someone to talk to who turns up when they say they will.

“It is a big commitment – a couple of hours each week for a year.

“But you can be flexible; obviously you have holidays and may travel with work.

“As long as the young person knows what’s going on, then they understand.”

Rob Chappell, managing director of SMASH, said: “It’s also really good fun for the mentors.

“We always talk about what the young person gets but most mentors also try out new activities and learn new skills.”

Since beginning 15 years ago, SMASH has helped more than 1,000 young people to achieve personal goals and to fulfill their potential.

To find out more about becoming a mentor, visit www.smashyouth project.co.uk, email admin@smashyouthproject.co.uk or call 01793 729748.

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