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The journey of a BPS mentor with Allison Saltrese

Find out how Allison used her skills from previous roles to become a mentor to support people to grow in their careers and confidence.

20 December 2022

As part of our mentoring blog series we sit down with Dr Allison Saltrese, as she discusses her personal experiences of being a part of the BPS South West Branch's mentoring and coaching programme.

Find out about the mentoring scheme

Since 2021, Allison has spent time mentoring others within the BPS to build upon previous mentoring experiences during her career in health services.

We explore how being a mentor has benefitted her personally, as well as people she has mentored.

Please give us a brief introduction to yourself and your career

I began my career as a trained nurse. Working as an expedition nurse, a health researcher and subsequent NHS manager gave me a breadth of different experiences.

Serendipity led me into the fascinating world of personal injury litigation where I worked as an expert witness and case manager in severe neuro injury rehabilitation.

I've always had a passion for wanting to make things better for people with neurological disabilities, their families and support staff.

My previous roles involved working with people in severe distress. This taught me how to  manage relationships with people in complex situations. For example, if people are irritable or unpleasant it's very rewarding to break the cycle of negativity with a kind word. It doesn't cost anything, but it can make a world of difference to someone's day.

The most rewarding part of these roles was being able to meet someone with little or no confidence and help them to grow and flourish. Watching that transformation is a huge privilege.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience with mentoring?

I've been a member of BPS for many years and provided mentorship to a wide range of people during this time.

Last year when I saw the opportunity to become a mentor I welcomed the opportunity to support someone interested in developing their career. In some cases this involves asking challenging questions in order to  help them on their personal and professional journey.

I started mentoring with the BPS South West Branch in 2021 as part of a pilot scheme. I was allocated my first mentee in the spring of 2022. We clicked straight away and the mentee felt comfortable enough to share their personal experiences with me. I considered this a successful pairing because at the second session, the mentee said it was a great match for them.

Why did you decide to become a mentor and what do you enjoy most about the experience?

Watching someone grow and lead the life they want is one of the most rewarding experiences.

It's a privilege to meet the person in the first session, hear about their challenges and perhaps provide an alternative perspective. Learning how they've increased their confidence to take control of their lives and/or career by the second session is very motivating to want to continue to be helpful to others.

Each session is only an hour long and the best part for the mentee is that the service is free! It's heart-warming to see that the BPS South West Branch is facilitating a service where someone can give their time and offer something of real value at no cost to the mentee – especially in the current economic climate.

How have you seen your mentees develop and grow as a result of mentoring?

I've only worked with one mentee through the BPS South West Branch scheme so far. However one of the large care packages I managed needed an additional part time member of the team.

I recruited and trained a woman in her 40's with no care experience but as a single parent of several children, she had bags of common sense. She hadn't achieved good grades at school but said she wanted to work - not least to provide a good example to her children.

I mentored her with starting her NVQ Level III in care. Her confidence was low but I reiterated my belief in her abilities and provided support.

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“Everything is a learning opportunity and the mentoring programme can give you the chance to see and hear new things that could benefit you.”
Allison Saltrese - BPS Mentor

She rang me recently to say that she had just  passed her NVQ Level III and she's now thinking about pursuing her Level IV. For me, that news gives me a feeling of "a job well done".

Mentoring shows that giving people a small amount of time to help them take a different perspective can lead to successful outcomes. In the case of this individual, she's achieved something she never thought possible and the positive consequences will not be confined to her alone.

What have you learned about yourself since becoming a mentor?

I can still make a positive difference to colleagues within a short time frame - in this case, three sessions.

What do you wish you knew before you started mentoring?

I wish I'd known about the 'grow questions' at the start of my mentoring activities. They provide a valuable framework when undertaking the mentoring project  - especially for people new to the mentorship role.

What would you say to other BPS members who are thinking about becoming a mentor?

I'd first ask them to reflect on why this appeals to them, to ensure that it's right for them. It's a short but important commitment and it's unfair to a mentee if you're unable to offer reasonable access. Also, you sometimes hear difficult things and for this reason, a strong mentor peer group is valuable for support.

From my perspective, everything's an opportunity to learn and the mentoring programme creates an opportunity for the mentor to learn about new services, developments and work that could benefit them.

Join the mentoring scheme

If you're looking for support or want to support others as a mentor, register your interest in the BPS South West Branch mentoring and coaching scheme today.

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