Karin Jordås, General Secretary at Mentor

Mentor was started in the mid-1990s and was initially a fundraising organisation that distributed money to various projects. Today it is a non-profit organisation that works with mentoring for young people aged between 13-17 years. Karin Jordås, General Secretary at Mentor, will tell about the activities.

“Mentor’s primary purpose is to be a drug-prevention organization.  We aim to give young people a strong sense of self-worth and confidence in the future so that they shun drugs and violence in their lives.”

According to Karin, they work with a positive approach instead of using scare tactics to stop young people from using drugs, which can simply provoke curiosity instead.  “We need to consolidate this positive approach.  The best way to get someone to opt out of using drugs is to get them to like themselves. It’s important for everyone to have a strong sense of confidence in the future as that results in them making positive, healthy decisions for themselves.”

She goes on to explain that there are many young people who need support but that things usually have to get pretty bad before they receive qualified help from social services. Mentor steps in as a prevention organization before that stage is reached. “Mentor is who you turn to when you need support and someone to talk to in everyday life – that’s something that can have a major effect on the rest of your life. Apart from the fact that this is a special age, when you’re exposed to certain dangers, many young people are quite lonely.  That’s when it’s good to have an adult role model to offer help and be there to listen to you.  It can also mean simply being helped with your homework, which can lead to enhanced self-esteem and an improvement in your school grades.”

We get young people to feel good about themselves

Mentor not only provides support for young people, it also focuses on parents of teenagers who need advice or the opportunity to talk about the challenges they are faced with at home.  “We started our Parenting Programme after noticing that the parents of teenagers needed support, too.  When they’re small, it is easy enough to talk about your child having problems sleeping at night, but when they reach their teens and the problem involves your child being caught shoplifting, it becomes a much more sensitive issue. We have parents who don’t know who to turn to. We then offer them support and try to boost their self-esteem and increase communication,” says Karin.

It is thanks to donations from organizations like the Erling-Persson Family Foundation that Mentor has been able to do this type of work, she says. “As we don’t receive any government grants, these funds are crucial for us to reach out to young people and parents.  Prevention work among young people will always be needed.  Children and adolescents are a vulnerable group in society and we all need to do our bit to help, even businesses.”

Mentor has achieved excellent results with its work.

“Over the past five years (2009-2014), figures from own surveys have revealed that the number of young people aware of Mentor and satisfied with what it has to offer has gone up. Our work is even more noticeable in highly sensitive areas. For example, teachers have reported an improvement in students’ grades.  It’s also really gratifying to hear that 89 per cent of those who have completed our mentoring programmes find they have increased self-esteem, and 92 per cent would recommend Mentor to a friend. These are the kinds of results we get simply by offering the support of an adult who is prepared to listen to young people and give them the strength and encouragement they need to flourish.  That’s when you really understand the power of mentoring.”