When she first entered the COACH Community Mentoring program, single mum of five, Ali, was struggling and overwhelmed. Today, her family is flourishing and she is pursuing her dreams. Here’s what Ali had to say about her dramatic turnaround.

“I first came to the Crossway Church’s LifeCare service to talk about a mentor for my son Robert but what I loved was that my whole family was considered. I felt a weight come off my shoulders and it was very easy to feel comfortable… Robert’s mentor relationship kicked off from the start – they set goals together and had a lot of fun. My younger son saw this and asked for a mentor as well.”

Feeling very disorganised, and that life was chaotic, Ali then accepted the offer of a mentor for herself. Toby Baxter, Director of Crossway LifeCare, said, “When we first met Ali, she was in a very dark place. She described that she’d had a nervous breakdown, and her house was in chaos. We matched her with a volunteer mentor, Julie, who spent a couple of hours a week with Ali, helping her towards her life goals.”

Ali says, “My mentor Julie and I clicked straight away. She gave me some fantastic strategies for organisation and encouraged me to set goals. She set me up to actually achieve my short term goal to do nursing… I got really good marks and passed the entry exam to get into medical school. That was after being at home bringing up five children for fourteen years full time – and I didn’t know how to switch a computer on until I met Julie.”

Prompted by a message she heard in church. Julie was inspired to give something back to her community – to be, “His hands and feet on earth.”

Julies says that she and Ali became friends instantly; “We seemed to connect straight away. I was impressed that this intelligent lady was prepared to ask for help and to be open to suggestions to change her life… where it could be improved. I have been humbled to know that I have been able to be a help to Ali and in doing that, I have gained a new friend and the realisation that just by giving up some of my time each week, I can make a difference in someone else’s life.”

Ali speaks of the benefits of COACH Community Mentoring, “My whole family was embraced. My eldest daughter was struggling and Crossway was involved in sourcing a more supportive school. She’s at university now. I had grief counselling as I was coping with the death of my child. I also accessed the financial services – I learned that even living on a shoe-string there are things you can do.”

“Now my life is so different. My heart is open to new possibilities, I feel focused and strong and a part of the community. We can’t do it alone, no-one can.”

Toby Baxter observed, “Ali has gone from feeling isolated and alone to being a leader doing something to benefit others. In a few years’ time she might be your GP!”