Here for a chat
From Manly to Palm Beach, many adolescents have been helped by the local charity, Raise Foundation.
Its concept is simple – once a week, on the same day, for all of Term 2 and 3, a mentor sits with a student to “chat about really anything and everything,” Vicki Condon AM, the founder of Raise Foundation, tells Peninsula Living.
“We want these students to become ‘resilient, capable and connected’. The pair set goals together, and the mentor provides advice, just listens, builds up the student’s confidence, helps them work on resilience and a whole lot more.”
Vicki started the Raise Foundation in 2008 after she experienced the death by suicide of a family friend’s son who was just 14 years old.
“I had written a business plan well before this about starting such a mentoring initiative, however I thought we had too many charities in Australia so I just kept it in draw under a heap of other paper and left it there. However, the day after the young boy’s funeral, I pulled out the business plan. I wanted to help adolescents so this type of thing would stop happening.”
Fast forward to now and Raise Foundation has over 4000 volunteer mentors throughout Australia, with many in the Pittwater region. And better yet – the organisation has helped over 5500 young people.
“There have been so many success stories that have come out of the program. One boy who had a mentor last year was living in a home with a hard family dynamic due to one of his siblings having autism, and he was very nervous, feeling lost and ignored, and quite distant.This year, he was chosen as school captain, and has started to develop a program that supports families who have a family member living with a disability. It was all about the mentor just giving him the time of day.”
So how can Pittwater locals help? By volunteering to be a mentor or donating funds.
Becoming a mentor is easy – just fill in the application form online and complete the compulsory six hours of online training then one-day face-to-face training and conduct a youth safety check. Mentors are then matched by a Raise-employed, highly qualified, program counselor to an adolescent from a school close by.
“We have a bold strategic impact plan to offer our mentoring program to every secondary public-school student in the country by 2024, so this means we need to recruit more than 15,000 volunteers from the community,” explains Vicki.
And, with suicide being the highest reason for the death of young people; 1 in 10 being completely disengaged from employment, education and training; and with 1 in 3 adolescents either under-employed or unemployed, more mentors cannot be found quick enough.
For more information on Raise Foundation or to volunteer, phone 0406 412 376 or raise.org.au