Here you will find lots of information and resources for you to explore the scheme and the benefits of signing up to be disabled mentor.
For more information please contact Disability Connect on firstname.lastname@example.org
To sign up to be a mentor you must have a disability and be seeking or currently in employment or education. Your role throughout the scheme will be to share your invaluable insight, experience and knowledge of disability with your mentee to enable them to increase awareness of disability challenges and implement best practise.
You won't be expected to know everything about disability or be an expert on mentoring. You will have to plan for the mentoring sessions, listen to what your mentee has to say and pro-actively help and guide them to reach their goals.
Anyone can be a mentor and no previous experience of mentoring is needed to apply. If your application is successful, you will be provided with a facilitated, interactive, virtual training package that covers what mentoring is and how it works, mentee case studies, goal setting, hints and tips and much more.
The benefits of joining the scheme include -
“Over the six-month mentoring scheme, I worked with my mentee to ensure inclusivity at every stage of the learner journey. We also identified ways to update Cosmic’s communications channels to be accessible to all. I loved learning about their mission and the powerful impact it has. Charlie and her colleagues were a pleasure to work with, always open to ideas and keen to listen. Being neuro divergent affects every aspect of my life and I have really appreciated this opportunity to share my lived experience. I have learned so much about others and also, about myself.”
“I’m currently studying at university and am autistic as well as diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I signed up to be a mentor because I wanted to help pave the way for other disabled people to find employment that respects them, understands them, and actively works with them. Rebecca was easy to work with and over the six months we built a good relationship discussing elements of her organisation’s workplace and interview process in order to help make them more accessible and welcoming”.
“The Disability Connect Mentoring Scheme provided me with a platform to share my lived experience as an autistic person directly with the people who could make change happen. My mentee and I had a very productive relationship, working together to remove unconscious barriers within their recruitment processes and website accessibility. They were open to listening and learning, allowing me to feel heard and valued by acting upon my suggestions.”
“I have extensive experience in mentoring on the topic of disability, accessibility and those with dietary requirements. I live well with Crohn’s disease, ankylosing spondylitis and celiac disease which impacts my day to day living and studies. I found the mentoring scheme to be flawlessly organised, with great structure on how to move forward with the relationship with Ben, from Blood Cancer UK. I personally developed my ability to use my eye for detail while glancing over the accessibility features of the charity website”.
“I joined the reverse mentoring scheme to promote disability understanding and drive change. The company I was paired with asked for help with recruiting and retaining disabled staff. It was so refreshing to have my opinion asked, listened to, and to be a part of a process of corporate changes. Language use was improved, signage inside and outside their building was altered, their website was overhauled with lots of my ideas incorporated, and I was able to influence the application process. Training and support from Disability Connect was amazing and it was an incredibly positive experience that filled me with hope for a brighter, more inclusive future.”
“The Disability Connect Mentoring Scheme was fantastic to be a part of. As someone with cerebral palsy, the scheme was very approachable, and I felt well supported throughout. It was exciting to watch my mentee take onboard my suggestions and I have become a better listener and more aware of how I can use the unique aspects of my disability to help others.”
Please complete the online form on the how to apply page. Please contact Disability Connect directly if you require any reasonable adjustments at the application stage or have any questions.
Your mentee will have signed up to the scheme to raise their awareness and learn about disability. They will be a business leader with a passion for diversity and inclusion. They may be a senior manager, human resources or diversity and inclusion professional, recruiter or maybe just someone with a disabled customer base that they want to utilise. They will most likely have a specific reason for signing up, for example to refresh their HR policies, learn about a specific disability, implement reasonable adjustment etc. or they may just want to increase their general awareness of disability and increase their confidence in handling disability issues. You will be matched with a mentee based on your background, skills and experience and their requirements and objectives for the scheme. Your mentees profile will be shared with you before your first mentoring session which will include background information and what they are looking to achieve from the scheme.
The scheme pairs disabled mentors with mentees who want to learn and raise their awareness of disability. As such, you should be willing and prepared to talk openly about your disability to your mentee. You are an expert and the only expert on your disability and your insights and knowledge will be invaluable. Your mentee might be slightly nervous about discussing a topic as unique and personal as disability. They might be worried about using the wrong terminology or making assumptions of what disabled people can and can’t do. By getting to know your mentee and by openly sharing information, your relationship with them will grow, you will build trust and this should put them at ease when discussing disability.
Anyone can be a mentor and no previous experience of mentoring is needed to participate in the scheme. You will however, need, or need to develop, some core skills to ensure your mentoring relationship is a success.
Mentoring relationships often go through three stages. There is the beginning stage, where both the mentor and mentee sign up to the mentoring contract, set the mentees goals and get to know one another, the middle stage, where the majority of the content is discussed and progress is made on the mentees goals, and the end stage, where the mentor and mentee review the progress made and celebrate any key achievements.
Each mentoring session will last approximately one hour and in a typical middle stage session you would spend 5-10 minutes catching up with your mentee and reviewing the progress since the last session. You would then spend the majority of the session discussing, exploring and breaking down your mentees goals. For example, one of their goals may be to make their recruitment processes more inclusive. You would spend time sharing your experiences of recruitment and the impacts of your disability. Your mentee should then be able to reflect on your insights and consider the action they want to take. You would then spend the final 5-10 minutes reviewing the progress made and setting actions and planning for the next session. This will ensure you maintain momentum and stay focused.
Further details will be provided in the resources provided to you when you start the mentoring scheme.
The guide for mentors and mentees and mentor workbook will be your main source of support and guidance throughout the scheme. These will be sent to you when you start the mentoring scheme. Please make sure you have read these before your first mentoring session to ensure you are familiar with the scheme and your expectations and requirements. There is also a raft of information online about reverse mentoring and disability. Support will also be provided by Disability Connect throughout the scheme. Disability Connect will regularly check in with you to review progress and offer support. If you have any questions or require support at any time please contact email@example.com.
Before you can start your mentoring relationship you will need to attend a virtual training event hosted by Disability Connect. This will take place on Microsoft Teams and will last approximately 2.5 hours. The training is interactive and attendees will be expected to fully participate. Breaks will be provided.
The training will cover the basics on mentoring, what to expect from the scheme, useful skills, techniques and models to use, goal setting, mentee case studies and what to do if your mentee relationship isn't working. You will not be paid for your attendance at the training session.
If you require any reasonable adjustments to participate in the training please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be sent details on how to sign up for the training during the application process.
The Disability Connect Mentoring Scheme is national and you may be matched with a mentee in a different geographic location than you. As such the scheme takes place via an inclusive online platform. The scheme taking place virtually also removes many of the physical barriers disabled participates may have in accessing the mentoring scheme.
You may decide to meet with your mentee in person during the scheme however, Disability Connect will need to be informed and the Disability Connect Safeguarding Adults Policy will need to be followed. Travel expenses will not be reimbursed by Disability Connect.
You will receive a £25.00 for every completed mentoring session. Your mentoring relationship is expected to last for six months with one session taking place per month. This means for a standard mentoring relationship you will receive £150.00. The payment will be made via bank transfer at the end of the 6 sessions.
Confidentiality will be crucial to the mentoring relationship. When setting the mentoring contract it is suggested that you agree not to share information outside of the mentoring sessions without prior agreement. This will allow for open and honest conversations however, if you are unsure about whether to break confidentiality (for example, to progress an action from the session) please speak to your mentee or Disability Connect.
Hopefully you will find yourself in a productive mentoring relationship that is rewarding for both you and your mentee. That said, occasionally mentoring arrangements encounter problems despite everyone's best efforts. Signs of problems may involve your mentee cancelling mentoring session, failing to progress actions or cutting sessions short. Firstly you should ask the mentee for feedback on how they are finding the mentoring arrangement. It might be that they think everything is going well or have similar concerns to you. If problems continue please contact Disability Connect who will be able to offer guidance and support.
During your mentoring relationship you may decide that the scheme is not for you. You may not be enjoying the scheme, have other commitments or have a change in circumstance. During the application process all mentors were asked to commit to the 6 month programme. If you decide to no longer continue with the scheme Disability Connect will need to match your mentee with another mentor and, as such, will not be able to provide payment for the completed sessions.
If you are not completely satisfied with the scheme please contact Disability Connect directly at email@example.com. Please do not direct complaints to your mentee.