Mentors wanted to end loneliness and bring joy of life

7. Apr 2021 | Mentor Corps

Many people have experienced how corona has made the feeling of being lonely even worse, and we also notice that here at Specialisterne. Many of the autistic employees here at Specialisterne have been working from home and this has highlighted the level of isolation sadly experienced by many autists.

The Mentor Corps brings joy of life

In 2020, Specialisterne established the Mentor Corps as a way of solving this problem. Sebastian Biltz, the facilitator behind the Mentor Corps, highlights that we have a special responsibility towards making sure that our employees are happy.
”We noticed that our consultants – in particular those who were told to stay at home – were expressing a feeling of loneliness and they were missing someone to talk to. As an employer, Specialisterne feels socially responsible for the employees. And for that reason, we realised that we had to do something.”

The volunteer Mentor Corps is an important part of this solution. But we need more mentors who are able to spend 2-8 hours a month with their mentee – the employees at Specialisterne.

A mentor does not have to be an autism expert. The most important thing is that he or she is a good listener, is empathic and knows how to spend a nice time with the mentee.
Sebastian emphasises: “We do not have any set goals to reach. The most important thing is to be curious about the other person and listen as the other person talks about everyday challenges. Would he or she like to change something? Or does he or she just want someone to talk to?”.

Sebastian explains that not only the mentee benefits from this setting. “Many mentors have told us that improving the quality of life for another person makes them happier as well. At the same time, our autistic employees have some unique perspectives that often allow our mentors to adapt a different view of the world.”

Autistic people are passionate about their areas of expertise and this enthusiasm is contagious. Meeting a person who is deeply involved in a topic that you take for granted can really add new perspectives on life. This can be anything from types of moss, brutalist architecture to techno, and many autistic people are very happy to share their in-depth knowledge of such topics. And as a mentor, you get a chance to take part in this enthusiasm.
During corona, activities are often limited to a walk through the green areas in Ballerup, Denmark; however, Sebastian imagines that many other activities will be added to the scheme whenever possible. This might include sports, watching a film, playing mini-golf and board games, or taking part in cultural experiences.

As a mentor, you are trained to do a good job. Following an information meeting and a talk with Sebastian, you take part in an introductory course and then Sebastian matches you with a mentee. Once mentor and mentee have met for the first time, Sebastian talks to both of them in order to ensure that it is a good match.
When you have completed the introduction process, Sebastian likes you to sign up to be a mentor for at least 12 months:
“Our autistic employees need time to establish a relation and changes require a lot of energy from them.”

Sebastian also wants to arrange mentor meetings. He wants mentors to meet up for supervision and social get-togethers. He says that the mentors are never on their own and that he is always available for guidance. This might be needed if a mentor is having a crisis or has doubts about something.

Would you like to find out more about the option of becoming a volunteer mentor with us?