EASTBOURNE VOLUNTEERS WITH HELEN BURTON: A homecoming for A Band of Brothers

Helen Burton SUS-160113-100959001
Helen Burton SUS-160113-100959001

Last week I was honoured to be invited to the Band of Brothers celebration of a ‘homecoming’ of the young men from their current Quest mentoring cycle in Eastbourne.

Band of Brothers run rites of passage weekends, mentoring cycles and support young men through the legal justice system and one such cycle was coming to an end.

In his invitation, Patrick McCurry explained: “The homecoming evening marks the end of the young men’s current mentoring cycle with us... and perhaps the beginning of the rest of their lives. This does not mean the end of our relationship with them, indeed, some of the young men may choose to remain engaged with us and become part of our ever-growing numbers, and may also wish to give something back to their community. The homecoming evening is to celebrate the young men and honour them in their journey, and to welcome them ‘home’. Each mentor and mentee are given time to reflect on their past three months and perhaps share what they have learnt about themselves and each other in that time. There will also be chance for members of the invited audience to contribute their input too, so if you’ve any feedback you might like to offer, please do so when invited.”

The ceremony was very moving, and at the appropriate time I was honoured to be able to give a blessing to the young men who had travelled on such a wonderful and important journey with the Band of Brothers over the last three months. I was also honoured to be able to spend time talking with Alan, a mentor who had worked with one of the young men we were celebrating. He explained to me that as a young man himself, he grew up with a lack of positive male role models, and that he understood the importance that they can have in young men’s lives. He had been volunteering with the organisation for three years. As a single female foster carer I had to work very hard to make sure the children I cared for also benefitted from positive male influences. My dad and brother were invaluable in this, but I can see how an organisation like Band of Brothers could be so helpful to young men who need to be guided in life. We all need positive role models to show us the way sometimes, particularly when we are young. This week I particularly want to honour the young men who we were celebrating. They had made a commitment and worked hard to complete the three-month mentoring cycle. They had literally climbed mountains, and have every reason to be proud of themselves. If they have learnt at their young age to believe in themselves and show drive and commitment to pursue their goals, then they are capable of anything. Well done Band of Brothers and its sponsors The John Jackson Trust, SPCC Katy Bourne and the Lacy Tate Trust, what an amazing organisation and a truly humbling evening.