True Stories: Matthew Old – Took the role and never looked back!

Matthew OldI entered the sector by chance when my sister organised an interview for me with another disability organisation in their transition to work programs. Having no real knowledge or understanding of the issues faced by people with disability it was a steep learning curve. I did, however, have experience working with young people and believing in them, to make the most of their lives. I took this into my role and haven’t looked back.

I now work as a Leaving Care Program Mentor for Northcott Disability Services in the Hunter region. I work with young people who are or have been in the care of Community Services and are about to make a transition into the Ageing, Disability and Home Care sector.

My role as a mentor is to assist these young people as they move into adulthood. This may include meeting with them regularly, either face to face or by telephone; creating opportunities to enhance their social and living skills and supporting them with making positive decisions in their everyday lives. The mentoring role is varied depending on the client’s situation, concerns and needs.

There is no such thing as a typical day for me as my role is as varied as the clients I service. Some of my clients are in very stable foster care situations and some are on the verge of homelessness or living in refuge scenarios. Others may be transitioning out of a stable foster care arrangement into 1 on 1 care or a group home situation. Some may have recently been incarcerated or are being assisted by the Criminal Justice System.

My role involves connecting with my clients and believing in them and their abilities. I spend a lot of time just getting to know each client and this can take up to 6 months to get a good picture of their stories, what they have been through and what they want out of life. I often meet clients at neutral locations such as a café or park to simply talk and listen.

The unique part of my role as an independent mentor is that I have no bias or agenda. Building relationships with young people and helping them build other positive relationships socially, at work and where they live, is all part of the role I try to encompass with my clients.

Matthew Old

Leaving Care Program Mentor – Hunter Region, NSW

Northcott

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