Annual Conference – Student Mentors

Overview: Last year a project was piloted at the SCI conference. The idea behind the project was for those of us that are able to give something back to Social care, to pay for, support and mentor a student who has come through the third level access programme, or has other challenges and barriers to education and professional autonomy. This idea was successful and SCI were asked to look at making this an ongoing project which is embedded in what social care stands for (support, growth, education, development etc).

Moving Forward: What we need now are a group of Social Care professionals (Frontline Managers, Social Care Workers, Social Care Educators etc) to come forward and offer to mentor a student for the next conference.

What does it entail: The first part is committing to doing it, then there is the aspect of funding it (ticket to attend, accommodation etc), and finally we would need to look at meeting with the young social care students prior to the event as a get to know you meeting.

What is the benefit: The benefit has several strands:

1. It can connect us with students who may be a good fit for our organisation on completion of their studies.
2. It is a way for those of us who have successful social care careers to give something back to those that need support.
3. It gives us an opportunity to do something that we can feel good about.
4. It allows young social care students from marginalised and or challenging backgrounds to experience social care in a different and positive way, hopefully impacting them in a really good way going forward.

The Outcome for Year one: For me as a social care professional this was a very worthwhile project, I got to engage with two students who otherwise would not have been able to go to the conference, I got to spend some time in their company and we were able to explore the merits of that mentoring and supporting role. It was helpful for me to recognise how tough it is for some students to engage in their professional life when they have so many other barriers in their way. Read what they said below.

Student A said: As a 2nd year student studying in social care work, I wanted to attend the social care Ireland conference to network, gain professional knowledge and explore difference sections of the profession. Having limited resources to finances can be a major barrier for accessing further workshops and/or events. I was offered an amazing opportunity and received sponsorship to attend the Conference. I was over the moon, I felt privileged. I was honoured to spend time in the company of the social care professional that sponsored and supported me throughout the convention. It was a great opportunity to have further discussions, gain more knowledge, meet new people and enjoy the conference. I felt extremely supported and I am very grateful for my experience.

Student B said: Being offered to attend the annual social care Ireland event for me was a huge opportunity. Initially when I was asked by Adrian McKenna if I was interested In attending I was overwhelmed with joy. I felt truly grateful to know that there was someone like him out there funding students like myself from a traveller background to attend such events. An event i would of never thought of attending myself as I did not think it would be possible. Adrian made this possible for me.

I have to admit attending the social care Ireland event itself, I felt quite nervous and did not know what to expect. The nervousness I felt disappeared once I arrived and was in the presence of other social care professionals and students. In particular, Adrian and his wife made it so welcoming for me and treated me with so much respect. They introduced me to people that i would have never known if I had not attended the event. They were so open and honest with me and to know that I have them as contacts for life is truly outstanding. The stories and knowledge that I gained from them will stay with me for life. They are a credit both to society and social care.

I would have never have met Adrian if he had not sponsored me with this opportunity and therefore I would have lost out on a great opportunity of growth and learning while also getting the chance to expand my network. It is by being given opportunities such as this that allows one to do great things. It is obvious that Adrian has spotted and noted this gap/crack in social care and he has acted on it. He has truly succeeded with inviting/ funding me to go the social care Ireland event. It was a learning curve that I needed to experience and one that i won’t forgot. It has given me the courage and confidence to attend in the future.

The Challenge: Can we get enough people to do this in an ethically and boundaried way. Are you the Social Care Professionals open to doing something a little different and be part of a legacy that in time could be self-fulfilling (The mentees of today become the mentors of tomorrow). Will you invest the small amount of time and money to do this. We have the support of the access team in one of the larger third level institutions and I will support this 100%. Come and join us and lets get this over the line.

Adrian McKenna AKA Ado
087-275 0705 or 01-284 5148

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