Koestler Mentoring FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

See below for answers to your frequently asked questions.

If you can’t find the answer to your question, feel free to contact us by email.

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  • To deliver arts input, shaped to the needs of individual ex-prisoners, that empowers them to continue
    with their arts-based activities.

  • To support people who have been involved in the criminal justice system to sustain and develop their
    artistic interests.

    To ensure that the mentees needs are met holistically by integrating the arts mentoring with other
    resettlement services.

  • Mentoring is a one-to-one, non-judgmental relationship in which an individual voluntarily gives time to
    support and encourage another. This is typically developed at a time of transition in the mentee’s life,
    and lasts for a significant and sustained period of time. For people with an offending background the role also includes communicating with other support services both statutory and non-statutory.

  • To be an Arts Mentor you must have:

    • Experience of arts practice as either a professional or a committed amateur.
    • A thorough knowledge of current practice, resources and available opportunities in at least one
      field of the arts.
    • An ability to identify and access arts amenities in the mentee’s local community.
    • An ability to give constructive feedback to mentees about their artwork.
    • An ability to plan imaginative and engaging activities which will encourage the mentee’s
      involvement in the arts.
    • Excellent interpersonal skills that balance warmth and clarity, as well as good listening and
      communication skills.
    • An ability to keep accurate records and to strictly follow guidelines and procedures.
    • Excellent time-keeping and ability to make travel arrangements.
    • A strong commitment to the aims of the mentoring project and to the principles of equality and
      inclusion as laid out in the Koestler’s equal opportunities policy.

  • Our awards cover 52 art forms including:

    • Ceramics
    • Craft
    • Drawing
    • Fashion and Beauty
    • Fiction
    • Graphics
    • Film
    • Magazines
    • Music composition
    • Needlework
    • Painting
    • Performance
    • Photography
    • Play writing
    • Poetry
    • Sculpture
    • Story telling

  • Mentors are not required to have any specific formal qualifications although training in the arts,
    education, counselling or other relevant fields may be an advantage.

  • To be eligible to become a mentee participants must:

    • Have had some involvement with the criminal justice system in England and Wales. They may
      be currently serving a sentence in prison, Young Offender Institution, or secure mental health
      facility, or have previously served a custodial or community-based sentence.
    • Demonstrate a talent and motivation to further their interest in the arts. We will seek to
      support creative mentees who might like to participate in arts activity in the community – either
      as a regular leisure pursuit, or those who might have a reasonable possibility of undertaking
      training, education, volunteering or employment in the arts.
    • Have enough practical and social support in the community from family, friends or other
      services to be able to make use of arts mentoring without being overwhelmed by more pressing
      needs such as homelessness or drug use.
    • Be willing and enthusiastic to participate in the project, and to commit to meeting their
      mentor for regular mentoring sessions. The commitment levels will be agreed on an individual
      basis with the mentee.

    All mentees who participate in the project will be doing so voluntarily.

  • To become an Arts Mentor with Koestler participants must:

    • Undertake 2 days of specific training relevant to becoming a Koestler Arts Mentor.
    • Commit to a set number of mentoring meetings with your mentee
    • Complete session reports after each meeting with your mentee
    • Agree to participate in regular individual and peer support sessions.
    • Engage in project evaluation activities, which will involve being interviewed and completing
    • Adhere to the projects policies regarding confidentiality, personal safety and boundaries and
      follow Koestler’s Good Practice Guidelines.

  • Typically the first meeting consisting of the mentor and mentee confirming where the mentee will be
    getting practical and other support, so that the Koestler work can focus on the arts. The mentor will also make absolutely clear the time-limits and other boundaries of the relationship.

    The following mentoring sessions can last up to half a day each, but will be generally about 2 hours at a mutually agreed public meeting place such as a community centre or arts venue. In planning the content of the sessions, within the behavioural and time boundaries agreed by the project, mentor and mentee can be as flexible and imaginative as they like, and the project will give the mentors a small budget to pay for some activities.

    The mentor may:

    • give feedback on the mentee’s latest artistic creations
    • suggest new forms or inspiration
    • work jointly with the mentee – e.g. both drawing the same subject or both carrying out a
      writing exercise together
    • suggest reading, websites and other resources
    • give information about events, courses and other opportunities
    • introduce the mentee to other local artists or groups
    • accompany the mentee to arts events – e.g. an exhibition, a performance or a poetry reading
    • accompany the mentee to open days or interviews for courses
    • encourage the mentee to submit work to competitions or for publication

  • Our mentors work with one mentee at a time.

  • A mentor will spend time:

    • Attending two full days training prior to being accepted as a mentor.
    • Attending regular support and supervision sessions.
    • Preparing informative and engaging mentoring sessions.
    • Carrying out up to ten mentoring sessions over a twelve month period.

    • You will be doing something meaningful, enjoyable, constructive and challenging
    • You will develop coaching and counselling skills that are transferable to your personal and
      professional life
    • Mentoring can revitalise your interest in your current work – and you inevitably get a greater
      understanding of key issues through reflection with your mentee
    • Mentoring can be rewarding as the person you mentor develops and progresses
    • Mentors will be automatically invited to Koestler events such as exhibition and sale previews,
      workshops and conferences
    • Koestler will provide you with a reference detailing the work you have undertaken as a mentor

  • We hope that, through arts mentoring, the mentees will:

    • Develop their self-confidence and self-esteem
    • Continue their enjoyment and engagement in the arts
    • Learn to reflect on their work and the ways in which they learn best
    • Develop a range of employable skills
    • Gain access to art’s networks not otherwise available
    • Receive practical advice and information
    • Feel less isolated

  • In 2007, we worked in consultation with SOVA (Supporting Others through Voluntary Action) to design and deliver training to our mentors. The Arts Mentor Training Course is delivered as two consecutive day’s training.

    The Outreach & Involvement team offer a range of support and supervision services to mentors including: one-to-one reviews, small group meetings with other mentors and other opportunities for mentors to contribute to the learning and development of the mentoring scheme.

  • Though we hope to match newly trained mentors as soon as possible, there is often a wait. Factors such
    as probation needing to sign off an applicant before we can take it forward, as well as many of the
    people applying awaiting release dates, mean there are delays. We are also a mentee led scheme and
    will prioritise the need of the mentee applicants based on artform and geographical location.

  • All reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed and out of pocket expenses will also be refunded.
    Money will be available for participating in artistic activities such as visiting a gallery or attending a play,
    as well as a small subsistence allowance.

  • Participants on the mentoring scheme may use email and the telephone to communicate in between
    face-to-face meetings. It is up to the mentor and mentee to agree a contact method that is mutually
    convenient and acceptable. It will not, however, be necessary for mentors to give their mentee their
    home address or home phone number. A separate mobile phone and email address will be provided to
    mentors for their work with us.

  • All mentors need to have a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check – these checks normally take between 2 to 6 weeks.

  • The experience and understanding that someone with experience in the criminal justice system will be
    able to bring to the role of Arts Mentor will be invaluable. We therefore welcome applications from
    people who have been in prison themselves. However, since the role will require working with vulnerable
    adults some serious offences and/or any sentence completed less than one year ago may preclude you
    from becoming a volunteer. It should also be noted that the project will involve working in co-operation
    with the Prison Service and Probation and that we will seek their views on appropriate matches between
    mentors and mentees.

  • If you have any more questions regarding the scheme please do not hesitate to contact the Outreach and Involvement team at Koestler Arts.

    Sarah Matheve – Director of Outreach & Involvement

    Lena Koessner – Mentoring Co-ordinator

Any Questions?

Please don’t hesitate to ask for more information
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