Seek Clarity! Residential Event | Mentoring under Construction

MuC Seek Clarity Residential Event Event | Graphic: Andreea Buzek
MuC Seek Clarity Residential Event Event | Graphic: Andreea Buzek

Once a year, the Mentoring under Construction Community gathers mentors, project coordinators, authors, researchers, etc. who are passionate about mentoring in European Solidarity Corps projects for a Residential Event.This year the event took place in Athlone, Ireland and was meant to seek clarity!

Seek Clarity! by Mentoring under Construction

Mentoring under Construction | Screenshot
Mentoring under Construction | Screenshot

Mentoring under Construction (MuC) is a community of practitioners who share a passion for mentoring/coaching. The MuC Community is open for everyone who is interested in raising the quality in mentoring and coaching within European Solidarity Corps programme (and beyond) including mentors, project managers/organisers, coordinators of volunteers, facilitators of learning, authors and trainers, and members of National Agencies and SALTO Resource Centres. Mentoring under Construction was founded in 2019 by the Romanian National Agency for European Solidarity Corps with the support of SALTO European Solidarity Corps Resource Centre and is cooperating with various other National Agencies. The main activities, events and initiatives of Mentoring under Construction aim at:

  • building a vibrant, resourceful and sustainable community of mentoring/coaching practitioners
  • developing quality content around mentoring/coaching in order to support the development of mentoring competences,
  • contribute to the quality of mentoring/coaching within the European Solidarity Corps

The history and activities of Mentoring under Construction are outlined in three blog articles: Spotlight ON! (2020), Moving ON! (2021), Accelerate! (2022) and Step it UP! (2023).

Mentoring and Coaching under Research

The Mentoring and Coaching under Research (MCuR) was carried out in 2022, and published in 20023. The research addresses core issues of mentoring and coaching within the European Solidarity Corps.

  • Among others, the main insights and recommendations pointed at clarifying:
  • the tasks of a mentor, the competences needed to carry out those tasks as well as
  • ethical guidelines for mentoring within the ESC programme.

Building a mentoring competence framework would address those issues.

A Task Force for Building a Mentor’s Competence Framework

The call for a task force was launched in June 2023, during our first MeetUP. 11 people were selected and the 1st meeting took place on July 19, 2023, aimed at getting to know each other and introducing the process. The Task Force would contribute with ideas for the content, revision and validation of the framework.

    Seek Clarity! The MuC Residential Event

    Seek Clarity - MuC Residential Event 2024
    Seek Clarity – MuC Residential Event 2024

    Once a year, the Mentoring under Construction Community gathers mentors, project coordinators, authors, researchers, etc. who are passionate about mentoring in European Solidarity Corps projects for a Residential Event. This year, Leargas invited us to Athlone, Ireland. The event took place from 18. March 2024 to 22. March 2024.

    Athlone – The town of Luain: Athlone, translated into Irish is ‘Atha Luain’, which means the town of Luain or the ford of Luain. Luain was a man who used to guide people across the treacherous waters of the River Shannon long before the first bridges were built.

    Title of the activity: Seek Clarity! Residential Event, Mentoring under Construction
    Facilitators: Andreea Rabota-Buzec and Michael Kimmig
    Project Coordinators: Miguel Tabera, SALTO RC, Suzanne Kavanagh, leargas
    Date & place: 18. March 2024 – 22. March 2024, Athlone Ireland

    Seek Clarity!

    During the residential event we wanted to share results of the Task Forces’ work: the tasks of a mentor (focus areas) and competence (knowledge, skills and attitudes) of a mentor in European Solidarity Projects. Although all this is still work-in-process we wanted to use the occasion to collect some feedback from the community. Our main objectives were:

    • Facilitate Comprehensive Understanding: You will gain a thorough grasp of the Mentoring under Construction program’s context, community, and initiatives.
    • Empower with Knowledge and Skills: You will have the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively implement the competence model in your contexts.
    • Enable Practical Applications: You will feel empowered to apply your learning within your organisations by assisting them in establishing mentoring programs, defining job profiles, and devising learning plans for mentor competence development.

    The Programme

    Seek Clarity! Highlights

    We don’t walk you through the whole programme, instead we point out some of our highlights…

    Mentoring stories

    An important part of this event is to build connections and network. In order to do this, we sent participants for a walk to explore the surroundings of our venue and to dive into a conversation about their mentoring stories:

    Walk & talk: Guiding questions

    • What’s your story? How did you get involved in mentoring?
    • What’s your role connected to mentoring (ex-volunteer, mentor, project coordinator, project manager, trainer, author, …)? What motivates you working with volunteers?
    • What’s the most beautiful memory connected to mentoring?
    • What was the most challenging situation you experienced connected to mentoring?
    • What’s one funny experience connected with mentoring?
    • What’s your philosophy on mentoring?

    Seek Clarity: A Mentoring Competence Model

    MuC Competence Framework | Screenshot
    MuC Competence Framework | Screenshot

    This year’s mission of your community is “Seek clarity!” – It is about clarifying the role and tasks of a mentor, the competence needed to fulfil them and agreeing on a code of ethics for mentoring in our field. During our event we shared for the first time the results of our work on focus areas and competences.

    The Tasks of a Mentor: Focus Areas

    Find a brief introduction here: Short history & presentation on focus areas (genially)

    Mentoring: Specific tasks – Behaviours – Competence

    In another session we asked participants to dive into the specific tasks, behaviours and competence (knowledge, skills, attitudes) for each focus area and to give us feedback on them. After gathering the feedback, we will update the framework and share with you the results later in the Community.

    Check out here the current version of the Mentor’s Competence Framework

    Self-Care for Mentors

    Marie Cleary shared with us her insights on self-care for mentors. After talking about the context of self-care, she introduced ways on how to down-regulate emotions and reduce panic and stress, build resilience in yourself and in helping others and avoiding mindset and thinking traps.

    Project Visits

    During our stay we had two project visits: Tracey Moore (Youth Work Ireland Midlands in Athlone) and Gwen Le Guillou and Brady Hughes (Galway Community Circus in Galway) who shared their way of using mentoring to support and guide young people in youth work and in volunteering activities.

    Youth Work Ireland Midlands, in partnership with young people and their communities aims to develop, coordinate and promote a comprehensive response to youth needs throughout Westmeath, Roscommon & Offaly. Youth Work Ireland Midlands promotes process and experiential learning. The Social Education model of youth work is used to empower young people, in consultation with staff & volunteers, to develop a range of programmes and activities aimed at enhancing the social, physical, emotional and spiritual development of the young person. Youth Work Ireland Midlands engages in international Programmes and transnational Youth Work activities, such as European Solidarity Corps and Youth Exchanges.

    Youth Work Ireland Midlands is committed to send volunteers from vulnerable backgrounds to ESC projects abroad. They build and rely on an international network of organisations that are able to offer guidance and support for this target group. The preparation of young people is very intensive and focuses on empowering young people to make a brave step to go abroad. Volunteers who are coming back are involved in mentoring and are a valuable support in motivating and modelling the following generation of young people. In 2024, they are launching a 2-month “Solidarity Academy” on local level to empower and develop young people in their field of youth work.

    Galway Community Circus – We are Galway, we are community, we are circus! – provides access to high-quality subsidised circus arts education through our circus school offering youth and adult programmes and professional training. They create community programmes in partnership with those who have specific social or developmental needs. They provide artist support, training and mentoring and lead the development of youth circus in Ireland through our academic, national and international partnerships.

    Galway Community Circus is a hosting organisation. They support the personal and professional development of volunteers in circus as an educational tool in youth work. For this they established a mentoring system that enables all staff members to deliver mentoring support for volunteers. Mentoring is an integrated part of their organisation and is focussing very much on the work part of volunteering. Part of their next move is to engage external mentors who can focus their mentoring on the free-time and overall journey of the volunteers.

    Open Space: Mentoring Inspirations

    Sharing experience and tools for mentoring is an important part of our event. Our group suggested 12 topics:

    • Case Study method for facilitating orientation
    • Walk & Talk method for monthly reflections
    • Non-violent communication
    • Individual & collective tutoring
    • Mentors-Coordinator-Volunteers team activity
    • Peer-to-peer person
    • Group reflection for identifying needs, expectations & fears
    • Most important questions
    • Drawing River of Life activity for deep individual reflection
    • STOP & Helicopter methods – ways of looking at difficult situations
    • What can I do as a mentor to support the volunteer reach with the tutor
    • Advice in better understanding how own culture is being perceived by others

    Spread the word: Bring clarity to the organisations

    Individually and in small groups, participants discussed possible steps on how to work with the focus areas in their organisations:

    How is Mentoring organised in your organisation

    • What focus areas are covered in your organisation?
    • Who is doing/covering this? (mentors, tutors, coordinators, etc.)

    Where do you stand as a mentor

    • Which focus areas are your strengths?
    • What focus areas would you like to grow into? What kind of support do you need (from your organisation)?
    • What focus area can you not do/cover?

    How to bring it together

    • How would you start a conversation on this in your organisation?

    Seek Clarity! What’s your next step

    At the end of the event, participants went through a coaching process that guided them through a reflection on themselves, their interaction with others, their growth and meaning/purpose. This process was concluded by ideas on how the MuC Community and SALTO can support the process of learning and development of our participants.

    MuC Community
    MuC Community

    A Community Haka

    We will swim together

    No longer treading water

    We are flowing with the tide

    In Athlone, we are not alone.