Cleft++ Mentoring

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One-to-one support for young people born with a cleft 

Cleft++ uses a specialist online platform to safely connect 12-17-year-olds born with a cleft to a trained mentor. These mentors are young adults born with a cleft and they will draw on their experiences to offer personalised support.

There are lots of ways a mentor could help support you with what’s going on in your life, including:

  • helping you to develop coping skills in dealing with setbacks and challenges
  • giving you a space to talk about cleft-related challenges and how to handle these
  • helping you to feel understood and know that you are not alone
  • practicing and developing your communication skills
  • showing you support networks and resources that might help you

Read on to find out more, and sign up today.

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How It Works

About Cleft++Mentors

Sign Up

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Cleft++ Project

This new mentoring project is so needed. It aims to link young people with a cleft with trained mentors for tailored advice, guidance, and support with navigating growing up ‘different’- Danielle

How It Works

Step One: Sign Up

Fill in this simple Cleft++ Sign-Up Form.

Step Two: Pre-Mentoring Session

  • You’ll receive an invite to a Pre-Mentoring Session, usually held on Zoom
  • Our team will explain the mentoring journey and how it will work
  • We’ll chat about the things you would like to talk about (via messages on Brightside) with your mentor

Step Three: Cleft++ Pack

  • We will send you a Cleft++ Pack, including information, a welcome survey, and a mentoring agreement

Step Four: Join Brightside

  • You’ll be invited to join an online mentoring platform called ‘Brightside,’ where you’ll be matched with a mentor.

Step Five: Start Chatting via Messages!

  • When you’re ready, you can create your personal avatar and start talking to your mentor through Brightside
  • All the messages with your mentor will happen via Brightside
  • You can message your mentor at a time that suits you
  • You will need to spend up to about an hour each week messaging your mentor. Your mentor will reply to your messages within three days. We suggest you aim to send at least one message each week, but more would be great if you can
  • You can choose how long you’d like to be mentored, but we’ve set twelve weeks as a guideline.  This will give you and your mentor time to get to know each other, to talk about the main issues you’re having, and to make a plan with you to help you move forward

You might want to talk about…

  • Going through surgery
  • Dealing with negative comments
  • Feeling low in confidence
  • Taking time off school for appointments and surgery
  • Moving from children’s to adults’ services

Step Six: Ending your Mentoring

  • Your mentor will talk to you about the end of mentoring a few weeks before.
  • Your mentor will tell you about other CLAPA services you might want to join and give you other ideas of what you could do after mentoring.
  • We will send you a survey to fill in so you can tell us if mentoring has helped you
  • You can come back to mentoring in the future

The support that this programme will provide for young people affected by cleft will be immeasurable – Lucy

About Cleft++ Mentors

  • Cleft++ Mentors are CLAPA volunteers born with a cleft and aged 18 to 25
  • All of our mentors complete mentoring and safeguarding training
  • Your mentor will support you by sharing their experiences of growing up with a cleft, listening, and offering helpful guidance around setting goals and moving forward
  • Mentors are not experts or trained counsellors; they can’t provide advice about medical treatments or give you mental health support. If this is the kind of help and advice you need, we can help you get in touch with your Cleft Team or GP

Sign Up

  • We ask important questions on our sign-up form to make sure mentoring is the right service for you
  • If we think you might need a different service to help you, we will talk to you about this
  • We will also ask for permission from a parent or guardian for you to take part if you’re under 14
  • We have a small number of Cleft++ mentors, so there may be a short wait before we can match you with a mentor. We will be in touch to let you know we have your sign-up form and how long you might need to wait to be matched
  • If you are a professional working with a young person who could benefit from Cleft++, please send them the link below and encourage them to sign-up!

Sign Up for Cleft++ Mentoring

Frequently Asked Questions

Please click on the questions below to reveal the answers

For Young People:

How will you choose a mentor for me?

We will choose a mentor based on your answers in the signup form. We will look at the topics you’d like to discuss and the concerns you’d like help with.

I don’t feel like I need 12 weeks of mentoring. Can I still be matched with a mentor?

We recommend that you to chat to your mentor for the full twelve weeks, but we won’t force you! If you get what you need from mentoring in less time, that’s absolutely fine. We will just ask you to complete a form about your experience.

My mental health is affecting me at the moment. Can I still be mentored?

Yes. Mentoring can run alongside any other support. It’s important to understand that mentoring is not a mental health service, and that it can’t replace counselling or psychological support. Please tell us the details of how your mental health is affecting you and what support you already have in place.

Is everything I say kept private between my mentor and me?

Only CLAPA staff who have been trained and have a background check can access messages you send or that your mentor sends you. Conversations are confidential (between you, your mentor, and CLAPA) except where we are worried about serious harm to you or someone else. In this case, we may need to involve someone else, probably your parent, GP, and/or local social care team.

How will I feel when mentoring comes to an end?

You may have mixed feelings when you’ve completed all your sessions with your mentor. You and your mentor might feel sad that the relationship is ending, which is normal. It may be that you’re still facing problems or difficulties. We hope the sessions you have with your mentor will help you to feel more confident about dealing with those situations when the mentor is not there, and we also hope that the end of mentoring will not be the end of your relationship with CLAPA. There are other opportunities to get involved which can offer you more support to help you reach your goals.

Can I sign up for mentoring again in the future?

Yes! If you’d like to return to mentoring to talk through some new goals or other concerns, you’d be very welcome to sign up again.

For Parents & Carers

How does CLAPA make sure mentoring is done safely and securely?

  • All the volunteers are trusted and trained by CLAPA staff. They receive regular support and supervision and have a point of contact at CLAPA if they have any concerns.
  • Only CLAPA staff with safeguarding training and appropriate background and DBS checks can access the platform; CLAPA has strict policies and procedures about which staff can have direct contact with and access data about children and young people.
  • CLAPA can check the full text of conversations on the Brightside platform anytime. During the mentoring, we will check conversations periodically.
  • Brightside is a platform created specifically for mentoring young people. Safeguarding the welfare of young people is built into all its policies and processes.
  • There are specific ‘stop words’ that will freeze messages until a member of CLAPA staff can review the content. Links and attachments are also held until a moderator can approve the content.

Will you tell me what my child discusses in the mentoring sessions?

  • It’s important that young people taking part feel able to express themselves openly and honestly. For this reason, we will not share what is being discussed in conversations with mentors unless we have a safeguarding concern (e.g., we are worried about someone’s safety or well-being).
  • Please be rest assured that CLAPA has strong safeguarding policies and procedures and will take all necessary action to ensure your child remains safe while receiving support from us.

For Professionals (teachers, GPs, etc.)

I work with a young person born with a cleft – how can I refer them to you?

  • We welcome referrals from professionals. If you work with a young person who would benefit from our mentoring service, please share this page directly with the young person and their parent.

For more information about this and other young people’s services or to answer any questions you might have, please contact Children and Young People’s Coordinator Claire Evans at [email protected]

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