Janet - a volunteer mentor on Shoulder to Shoulder in Birmingham - helping veterans and their families adjust to civilian life.

Janet, pictured here, told us:

I heard about Shoulder-to-Shoulder when a fellow student on a 'helping skills' adult education course gave a presentation about how it was helping veterans and their families.  It was then that I decided to get involved as a volunteer mentor as I had some spare time on my hands as a carer to my son and had also gained qualifications in 'helping skills' and 'mentoring'.

Shoulder-to-Shoulder carefully matched me up with two family members of a veteran and I felt I was able to offer empathy and a deep understanding of their situation, due to similar experiences as a parent and carer.

Over several months, we developed a supportive relationship based on mutual trust and respect and I was able to help them find the right direction and develop solutions to various difficult and challenging issues in their lives.

By helping them to think through problems and introducing them to new ideas, this encouraged them to view issues from another perspective and to look at positive choices.

Mentoring has taught me that it is an unpredictable process, there is no magic wand or quick fix, change and hope take time, trust and real listening skills.  I was able to use the knowledge gained on my courses to help the mentees to discover their strengths and to progress, both as individuals and as a strong family unit.

Mentoring has been great for me in a variety of ways.  It has provided that wonderful feeling you get when you help someone and make a difference to his or her life.  Mentoring has allowed me to do things that feel meaningful and it has been rewarding in that I did something that matters.  I have discovered that when you give mentees new ideas and open doors for them, it opens up an entirely new path and truly changes their lives and it felt rewarding to be able to share the idea that anything is possible.