To assist in building trust and communication with ethno-cultural youth and communities, programs may want to consider the approach of using cultural brokers or navigators. Cultural navigators help support culturally-responsive practice and policy development in government and community organizations, and help ethno-cultural individuals connect with the health care and social services they need.
a) Mentor Recruitment:
The following factors should be considered when deciding whom to recruit as mentors:
- Recruitment strategies should realistically portray the benefits, practices, supports and challenges of mentoring youth in the program
- Outreach strategies should be tailored to the characteristics of the people you want to recruit. (See below for additional details). Little research exists on how to best target very specific cultural and ethnic groups. However, practice wisdom suggests that programs can best address race and gender issues in recruitment by tapping into the smaller community-based social networks and organizations to which these individuals might belong. Recruitment is most often successful if there is an existing relationship with the community or population being targeted.
- In the case of working with Aboriginal communities in order to recruit mentors, this is very much a trust building activity. Only when the community feels that the program is truly respectful of their culture and working in a culturally appropriate manner will people agree to become mentors. (Alberta Children’s Services, 2006)
- The strategy should be focused and comprehensive to ensure that volunteers understand the goals and guidelines of the project and are best able to meet the needs of youth.
- Focus on the transformative power of mentoring. Describe the mentor’s role in teaching skills such as problem-solving, decision-making, and how to access community resources.
- Provide an orientation session whereby potential mentors are invited to a meeting where staff describe the program and mentors and mentees talk about their experiences.
- Give potential mentors a realistic sense of the commitment required.
- Emphasize the support available to mentors from your program (e.g., training, supervision, mentor support groups, group activities for mentors and mentees). Let potential mentors know that they will not be the sole support for a young person.
Don’t duplicate. Build on existing programs/partnerships whenever possible.
Connect with mentoring programs / organizations already working with/in the community. These may be at local schools, youth centres, settlement services, etc. Find out what they are already doing. Explore partnerships. Work to build on their successes