Mentoring has high and potent value. But where do mentors and coaches get their support from?
Support and accountability is of vital importance to all helping roles.
If you are involved in Christian mentoring or coaching of any sort, and have no support, consider joining or starting a Regional Mentoring Support Group. This organic movement of mentoring groups is designed to meet the need for Christian mentors and coaches to have togetherness, accountability, peer supervision and training, on a regular basis.
Regional Mentoring Support Group
It is a gathering of Christian mentors, grouped by region, who come together for mutual support, peer supervision, and to share training ideas. It is envisaged that the regional support groups might have some cross-fertilisation visits and sharing from other groups as they build. These groups are responsible for themselves and the people who attend them.
- A supportive network is essential for Christian mentoring. Mentors and coaches need to support each other, particularly those who work alone. Learning from each other can be powerful, as new ideas are generated and difficult cases are shared anonymously in a supportive and confidential environment. As mentors and coaches, you know that to be heard is paramount. Mentors and coaches are good at supporting those who are mentored, and it is important to address our own needs to be supported and encouraged by others.
The groups are designed to be mutually supportive. A person who offers to co-ordinate a group is not in leadership over the mentors but will be a contact point. It is recognised that all mentors are at different stages in training, expertise and practise. This is welcomed and an approach of mutual support is important to maintain. Mutual voluntary accountability is the aim, with each mentor taking responsibility for their own training and support needs, both in and outside the group.
The regional support group does not provide formal supervision. Any confidential sharing within the group can offer peer support but is not an alternative to a formal supervision arrangement, with a qualified supervisor.
Guidance on Ground Rules for Groups
There are some suggested ground rules below. However, it is strongly suggested that each group reviews these and forms their own agreed ground rules, to suit the situation and meetings.
- Engage with the Bible and prayer as part of the meetings, praying for mentees and mentors alike.
- Exercise mutual respect for each group member.
- Each person is to take responsibility for themselves in the group.
- Each person should be willing to reflect upon new learning and their practise as a mentor.
- Whilst new insights may be offered, it is ultimately up to the individual to make their own decisions and conclusions.
- The group meets a minimum of three times a year.
- Consider any shared information as confidential within the group, enabling a safe space in which to share practise and ideas.
- If there are serious concerns about the practise of a person, we recommend discussion with the person, firstly, and then a confidential discussion with an experienced and trusted third party, if this does not resolve the issue.
- Each person to share the responsibility for the group’s maintenance and invitations to other trainers.
- To share the cost of meeting together, be that in a rented space, or at someone’s house.
- Objective viewpoints
- Reflective practise
- A place of growth
- Willing to give and received feedback appropriately
- Fresh insights
Alison Cansdale is acting as one of the support coordinators for the regional support groups. We would love to hear what works in each of the groups, and share it on The Mentor Network so that others can be inspired. Please send your photos and stories to Alison at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will add them, ensuring anonymity where appropriate and possible.
Current groups and contact details will be added below.