Volunteer Story of the Month - April 2024

This month we hear from one of our longest serving MAPS mentors, Anthony French, about his experience over several years mentoring several young people in the borough.

MAPS Mentoring is an award-winning project providing mentoring and support to young people to help them achieve their full potential through the support of a one-to-one volunteer adult role model.

Anthony's volunteering story
Volunteer of the Month April 2024 Anthony French 6x4

What's your name? 

Anthony French


What got you interested in Volunteering? 

A friend of mine was mentoring young people and I was impressed at what he was doing for them, and decided to get involved so I could help in similar ways.


Why did you choose MAPS?  

As above, the picture painted by my friend was impressive enough to draw me in.


What have you learnt through volunteering with MAPS Mentoring?  

I’ve recognised that many young people have wonderful talents and gifts but, sadly, haven’t always been encouraged to recognise them, nor to see the opportunities available to them.  I feel one of my key roles is to help them to recognise their worth, to gain in confidence, to step up to challenges with a positive attitude, and to set higher expectations and targets for themselves, which hopefully will benefit them throughout life.


Has being a mentor changed you? If so, how?   

I don’t think it’s changed my thinking per se, but it’s probably changed my understanding of some of the problems and barriers faced by young people, and perhaps encouraged me to encourage them.  It’s also helped me think of different ways to help young people grow in whatever ways they need.


Do you have any funny moments you can share?  

I remember baking a cake with a mentee once, and we couldn’t work out why it came out all flat and stodgy;  it turned out we’d forgotten to put the flour in!  But it was quite positive in that it showed that mentors can get things wrong as well (and it doesn’t matter) … and we had another go at baking… and this time got it right!


What is your favourite activity to do with your mentee?  

I love playing games and encouraging mentees in their confidence and attitude towards winning – we keep scores of the games we play, so the challenge extends throughout the year.  This gives experience of both short and long-term challenges, and helps them understand that not always winning can be approached in different ways and have different outcomes, …to their benefit!

Volunteer of the Month April 2024 Anthony French 2        Volunteer of the Month April 2024 Anthony French 3

Would you recommend becoming a mentor? Why?  

If you like challenges, and reward… yes, I certainly would.  Why? For certain it’s challenging as you get to know and grow your relationship with a young person; you’ll sometimes feel stretched, but that’s when you grow as well! It’s rewarding as you get to see someone emerge from where they were, and start growing in confidence and capability (and they almost always do!). You both have fun!


What would you say to a friend to get them to become a volunteer mentor?  

If you have a heart for youngsters, please, just go for it.  You will be pleasantly surprised at what you can achieve both for others, and for yourself.


If you are interested in becoming a MAPS mentor click here to submit your expression of interest.

Here’s a little video highlighting Anthony’s most recent volunteering journey with MAPS with one of his mentees, Callum. Take a look...