SAYes YOUTH MENTORING IS A NON-PROFIT DOING GOOD DIFFERENTLY.
Firstly, we train and support volunteers to mentor vulnerable young people. Mentors are taught to apply a formal mentoring approach, called transition mentoring, in working one-to-one with a mentee. In so doing, they leverage the power of social motivation and strategic planning to improve the impact of youth programmes.
Secondly, we facilitate and support social initiatives from different sectors. For example, we know that first-time career opportunities for young people offered by a business can have much greater impact when offered in the context of mentorship. This is also true for the many youth programmes and services run by non-profits and local government.
Thirdly, we design and deliver evidence-based programmes for youth in transition. All our programmes aim to improve independence (informed choices) and well-being (healthy practices) using credible findings from the behavioural and brain sciences (e.g., positive psychology, behavioural economics, moral philosophy and cognitive neuroscience) tailored to a specific youth population.
OUR TRANSITION MENTORING PLATFORM
All SAYes and SAYes-affiliated programmes are run on the Transition to Independent Living (TIL) platform managed by SAYes. TIL relies on mentorship along with cross-sector collaboration, digital infrastructure, and nested support to optimise meaningful transitions. TIL includes;
The SAYes TIL platform is suitable for programmes serving young people between 14 and 25 years old. SAYes runs its own and affiliated programmes on the TIL platform.
Our purpose at SAYes is to inspire and inform leaders of social change through mentoring. We are passionate about improving social impact, about reducing social inequality and about creating and supporting youth programmes to do good better.
SAYes programme support specialists are the hub of the TIL platform services, coordinating information, resources and opportunities among our partners, volunteers and programmes. They are trained counsellors, educators, coaches and social workers whose purpose is to ignite opportunities for social change by providing a professional and personalised service to each mentor-mentee match.
SAYes currently runs four Group Care Programmes on the TIL platform in Cape Town, South Africa. These programmes are designed to prepare young people currently living in, or recently exited from, Child and Youth Care Centres (Children’s Homes) for independent living.
There are many groups of vulnerable young people that could benefit from transition mentoring. SAYes-affiliated programmes work with these groups using our transition platform. SAYes manages all TIL platform services for affiliated programmes, including the training and support of volunteer mentors, while the programme curricula and/or services are provided by the non-profit partner.
SAYes helps volunteers and partners find the right programme to join.
In 2005 Michelle took a break from work and studies in the UK and volunteered to coach football in Cape Town. The young people she met were living on and off the streets, but football was their religion. Not knowing anything about effective altruism, we thought an overseas football tour would be a great way to help. So we raised funds and arranged a trip to the UK. We arranged tickets to a premiership game at Stamford Bridge Stadium, a theatre visit to the West End, and a reception at the Harrodian School to meet the students and parents Michelle worked with in the UK. The young men where treated like rock stars and loved every minute of it! Before they left they had the honour of personally meeting with Nelson Mandela – who shook hands, smiled and spoke plainly to each of them in turn. “You can be no leader without education” he said. How true and how prescient. Sadly, after the tour, many of these young men returned to begging at the traffic lights and living on the streets. Some had turned 18 which meant that even had they wanted to, they could no longer return to the home.
Doing good well takes work. A little while after the UK tour Michelle returned to SA to look for a better way to help. She befriended social workers and many young people living in care, asking them what support they needed. One young man said the most difficult part for him was getting ready to leave the home. He didn’t have anyone to talk to about what was coming next and he knew he would have no state support once he turned 18. Life on the street is hard and despite being a tough young man he was scared and alone. Our hearts sank thinking of what was next.
Michelle came back to the UK and wrote a dissertation comparing transition support in South Africa with best practice in UK. She researched many different kinds of intervention and we talked and talked about what would really make a difference. We found ourselves returning to the compelling people in our own lives. People who really listen, who guide dispassionately and are unafraid to challenge. People who stay by your side no matter what. People who look for ways to propel you forward and take chances to back you up time and time again. She completed her degree, packed up and left Notting Hill for Cape Town to start SAYes Youth Mentoring.
There are so many of us who want to create social change. We want to make doing good part of our own commitment to working and living well. However there aren’t always opportunities to do so effectively. From the start we built SAYes to provide a professional service not only for young people in transition, but also for the many people who want to manageably experience doing good better.
We are very proud to have grown SAYes to serve over 100 mentor-mentee matches a year. The impact has been astonishing and this is just the beginning. We hope you will join us in creating lasting social change for yourself and for others.
When you become a transition mentor, you are committing yourself to a specific role in a young person’s life for a specific period of time. The security provided by this commitment is an essential foundation for change. Relatedly, consistency between words and actions builds a predictable world in which mentees feel confident to act.
The role of the transition mentor is guidance, advocacy and support. Gift-giving is not allowed. Healthy boundaries are essential for sustainable transitions. Relatedly, mentors respect mentees’ right to be heard, to express their opinions and ultimately to make their own choices and take their own actions. Rational discussion is the only form of influence open to us.
Transition mentoring is completely transparent. All discussions and transition planning takes place with and by the young person, with an honest reality focus. Relatedly, building trust between you and your mentee requires a commitment to confidentiality. Unless there is cause for concern, personal conversations remain confidential.
Mentoring is motivated by goodwill and the generosity of human connection. Mentors are asked to approach the mentoring relationship as they would any new relationship, with openness and kindness. Relatedly, mentoring is focused on awareness and acceptance rather than judgment. Responsibility makes sense, blame does not.
Mentoring is sensitive to the many ways in which inequality affects outlook and opportunity. Reducing inequality is the heart of the mentoring process. Mentors focus on expanding opportunities and enriching experience. Relatedly, mentoring requires sincere care and attention to the young person’s aspirations as well as to their possible suffering and misfortune. Compassion is a core value for reducing social inequality.