4U Mentoring coordinator Lou Perkins paired Niall Presland-White up with his buddy Dante Phillips.
Niall Presland-White grew up with a mum and two sisters so knows what it’s like to need some guy time. Later on in life, his new ‘dad’ and his friends became strong role models introducing him to ‘adventurous spontaneous living’.
When Niall found out about the Springboard Community Works mentoring programme he thought it was the perfect chance to invest back in young people. It involves spending two hours a week to mentor a young person for a year. It turned out to be a perfect pairing for 10-year-old Dante Phillips.
“It’s cool because I have a big brother now. All I have at home are my sisters and my mum, and it is good to be around a boy instead of just girls,” Dante says.
In the past year Dante has learned how to hunt, ride a quad bike and help out on the 23 ha lifestyle block Niall lives on with his wife and two pre-school children.
Niall says he has found it rewarding, not only to potentially influence his buddy’s life but also to develop as a person.
“I hope I give him a different perspective on life which will help him find his feet as he grows up and makes decisions about who he wants to be. But we are learning off each other. I’ve learned how to be a better person and efficiently pass on a good message to a younger generation,” Niall says.
At the moment, Dante wants to be builder, is very creative and enjoys drawing.
Dante’s grandma, Marie Phillips, says she is thrilled her grandson has a male figure in his life, and Springboard matched him perfectly with Niall.
“He’s happy to go every time which is great because he can be a bit of a homebody. He’s certainly come out of himself a bit more,” Marie says.
Springboard 4U Mentoring co-ordinator Lou Perkins says every mentor has something different to offer and can respond to the needs and interests of the young person.
“We always say use what’s in your hand.
“For Niall, it’s been his family experience and his environment,” Lou says.
The programme has matched 70 people in the past seven years and they currently have 19 mentors, with the youngest 22 years old and the oldest 87. However, they need more volunteers, at least 20, to mentor a range of young people aged between 8 and 12 years.
The programme includes training and ongoing support. Mentors are vetted, including police checks, and the programme follows the Brothers in Arms policies and procedures. It includes setting up boundaries and making it clear a mentor is not a bank, taxi or counsellor, but a positive guide.
Can you help?
Springboard 4U Mentoring is looking for at least another 20 mentors, male and female, over the age of 18. They especially need men in Wellsford and volunteers in Warkworth, Snells Beach and Leigh. Springboard is holding an information night on Monday May 8, from 7.30 to 8.30pm at the Bridgehouse in Warkworth.