Here, Mentoring Lead Olivia Keadell talks about why the Crossroads Care mentoring service is so important for young people with complex health and/or social care needs. Olivia, who is also studying for a degree in criminology, shares how she manages to fit studying in around her important role.

Why is the Crossroads Care Specialist Mentoring Service for young people with complex needs so important? 

‘It’s immensely important because ultimately it helps keep families together, by focusing on those young people and families most at-risk, and hard to reach, often during periods of crisis and turbulence. Those young people may have special educational needs, exhibit psychological distress or mental health issues and antisocial behaviours, raising concerns around engagement (school, home, health and/or social services) and family dynamics

‘My role is to help them navigate their futures and overcome many of the associated challenges and obstacles, as well as supporting parent Carers to feel better equipped to look after themselves and their families, by way of providing specialist early and appropriate intervention and support.

‘Building confidence and developing social skills are central. One of our young people told us he wants to be a volunteer and help other young people with disabilities, so he’s now completing relevant training and has become a Young Ambassador for our Saturday Club. He’s assisting young people in arts and crafts, dance and karate and building friendships and adult relationships, as well as learning about boundaries and responsibility, all skills needed for his future.

What does your job as Mentoring Lead involve?

‘A major part of the role is working with young people to set achievable goals (short and long term), identifying current and future obstacles and challenges, and helping them identify and implement strategies which will help them achieve their goals and future aspirations and help set them up for adulthood. For example, I may work with one young person on independent travel – so how to plan a route, checking timetables, buying tickets – that sort of thing. That way, they’ll be able to access college independently once they leave school.

What do you like best about the mentoring role? 

‘Without doubt, it’s helping the young people to feel proud of themselves. The smiles on their faces when they’ve worked towards and achieved a goal we set in place is truly wonderful. It makes them feel fulfilled and confident about the future.’

What are the biggest challenges within this job? 

‘So far, my biggest challenge is getting the young people to believe in themselves and believe that they can achieve goals. I often hear the words, “I don’t know if I can do that”. A large part of my job is helping young people to overcome this mindset.’

What was it about care work that attracted you? 

‘I used to work in the Prison Service. There are more transferable skills than you might imagine — for example, calming down a situation with your communication skills and teaching the young people strategies to manage their own frustrations and anxieties. The reason I moved into care work is that I wanted to help young people in a more preventative and direct way. The Prison Service can be a negative, violent environment, and I wanted to be part of a really nurturing support system for young people, so I chose to care.’

How do you juggle studying with work? 

‘It isn’t easy, however I study via the Open University, so I arrange studies around my new role. It is a challenge, but it’s worth it. I really enjoy both my studies and my work at Crossroads Care. The two roles are complementary. I get to apply so much of what I study in a practical way – it works.’

Whether you’re just starting your career or re-entering the workforce after a break, or if you’re an experienced care support worker, Crossroads Care could be the place for you. If you are interested in working for us, take a look at our jobs page:

With thanks to our funders, Richmond Parish Lands Charity and the Hampton Fund.