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Returning Parents' Mentoring scheme

This scheme is for members of staff returning to work after maternity, paternity or adoption leave. The aim of the scheme is to offer new parents the support of a mentor who has first hand experience of managing the issues involved in returning to work after the arrival of the child.

About the scheme

Having been out of the world of work for over 10 months, I was nervous about coming back. I knew that my children would be ok and settled in nursery, but I felt that I had lost a lot of self-confidence in a professional sense. I was afraid to mention this to anyone at work as I didn’t want them to lose confidence in me. Therefore, I felt a bit of a fraud for a good few months as I ‘pretended’ to still be good at my job whilst I frantically tried to catch up with what I had missed. I know it would have helped to talk to peers about this completely reasonable way of feeling.

Mother of a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old.

Having a baby rocks your world and it can be hard to manage both your own and others’ expectations about how you will juggle your family and career. I would have found it very helpful to talk through some of the very difficult decisions and transitions you have to make, in confidence and with someone who had already been through it.

Mother of a 17-month-old.

About the scheme

The scheme is based on the same principles and code of ethics as the Warwick Coaching and Mentoring scheme. The mentor will be a member of staff who has in the past taken time off work for the arrival of a new baby or adopted child. The mentee will be a member of staff about to embark on such leave or returning to work after such leave. Ideally the mentoring arrangement will help them to anticipate some of the issues involved and to manage these on their return.

The mentor will use their listening and questioning skills to help the mentee to think through how they wish to handle the practical and emotional issues involved in returning to work. The mentor may share their own experiences and offer suggestions, but will be aware that what worked for them may not suit the mentee. Hence, if they offer advice, they will do this cautiously and in a way which leaves the mentee free to disregard their suggestions.

The duration of the formal relationship under the scheme may be longer than the standard twelve months since the mentee will be away from work for some time. A mentoring arrangement which starts in advance of leave is likely to be for between eighteen and twenty four months, while a mentoring arrangement commencing after the parent returns is likely to be for the standard twelve months.

If you wish to be a mentor or to have a mentor under this scheme, first speak to your line manager or head of department. This conversation is likely to consider the time commitment required and how this will be handled, and how the manager might support you. Assuming that there is some agreement at this meeting, the next step is to complete and return the Nomination Form

Note that if you want to be a mentor then you will be expected to attend a one-day workshop to develop your mentoring skills and understanding.

If you are a returning parent you may also be interested in a support network of returning parents, details of which can be found on the Returning Parents' Support Network pages.