Meet Laura Brown, Relational Mentor on Building Futures East’s Relational Mentoring Programme, using SIGNAL to help people overcome their challenges on their journey toward achieving their goals.

The Relational Mentoring programme is designed to support people who are defined as ‘economically inactive’; that is, people who are not employed or registered unemployed. As Laura explains “Whilst they are not required to look for work, many want to but may be prevented from doing do by, for example, poor health, childcare responsibilities, problems with addiction, or because they have anxiety or experiencing social isolation”. The Relational Mentoring programme is very person-centred. Each person has a different set of goals, and it is Laura’s experience that very often they don’t know where to get help.  And that’s where Laura steps in; to be their reliable point of contact and to help them overcome their challenges.

How did you get into this line of work? Before I came to BFE, I was a care worker in mental health. I enjoyed the job, but it wasn’t easy to fit it in with bringing up a young family. I spotted an advert for Receptionist at BFE and, always having been driven by wanting to support the community, I was inspired by BFE’s mission which says “We take a ‘people and place’ based approach to our work, improving the quality of life and opportunity for individuals whilst supporting fragile communities in building their social and economic resilience”.  In the three years that I’ve worked at BFE I have moved from receptionist to my role as a mentor – and I love it!

How would you describe your role? Well, it can be intense, but it is extremely rewarding. I have the privilege of getting out into the community and meeting people from all sorts of backgrounds, each with their own story. I feel very motivated by seeing how far people have come and by knowing that I can play a part in helping people make positive changes in their lives.

What’s the best thing about the work you do? Building strong working relationships based on trust. Once that rapport is there we can work together in a positive, proactive way to overcome barriers and move towards their goals.

How does SIGNAL help? It helps me find out a lot about what’s happening in a person’s life. I particularly enjoy the bit when we sit together to reflect on the Life Map and they choose their priorities. I can see how their Life Map motivates them. It really comes into its own when they do a follow-up SIGNAL. For example, I had one person who felt like they hadn’t done much, but when they completed their second Life Map, they got a real boost because they could look back at their first one and see the progress they’d made.

Do you have any ‘top tips’ for anyone about to start using SIGNAL in their work?

Before you ‘go live’ with a client, do a practice Life Map on yourself and then do one with a colleague. It’s a great way to build your experience of how SIGNAL works!  In particular, pay attention to the bit where you choose a priority on the Life Map. Think about what you would write in the dialogue box to explains why the priority has been chosen. When working with a client, take a few moments to agree on the wording so that it accurately reflects their ‘story’.  And because it’s their story, it’s best to write it in the first person (‘I’ rather than ‘he/she/they’).

If you would like to find out more about how SIGNAL is benefitting Building Futures East's Relational Mentoring project, or have any 'top tips' you would like to share, please email us at contact@clearsignal.org.