We tackled shyness with fruity frappes.

At The Kids Network we want all children to benefit from having a mentor to support them to live the life they deserve.  Our brilliant volunteer mentors have an enormous impact on the children they are paired with.

We were very proud that some of our volunteer mentors were celebrated in a recent article in the Daily Mail and we wanted to continue this celebration by highlighting each of those stories and the words from those volunteer mentors.

Meet Rhoda, a teaching assistant from South East London.

When I first met my 11-year-old Little Londoner in February 2023, I wasn’t sure I would be able to carry on. She was so shy for the first three months, she barely said a word to me, but the team at The Kids Network were reassuring and urged me to persevere. Without them I would have quit. I’m so pleased I didn’t because I know I helped her — and she definitely helped me.

I realised I had to be patient and think outside the box. Because she didn’t like talking, I got a pack of emoji cards and we used those to explain how we were feeling. When she picked a smiley face, some two months in, I was delighted.

She loves a Starbucks strawberry frappe but she was too shy to order it herself, so I suggested I stood beside her. At first she was so quiet the barista couldn’t hear her but, over time, she could order confidently.

It was such a small thing but it was a huge breakthrough.

Another milestone was when, around five months in, I suggested going to McDonald’s but she said she’d prefer pizza. I was thrilled that she felt comfortable enough with me to express an opinion.

It was incredible when she came back from her summer holiday at Butlin’s in September. She was so chatty it was like a geyser exploding! She was like a different girl.

At our last session in January, she asked if we could play her favourite word game: Hangman. She spelled out the letters THANK YOU. It meant the world to me.


If you are interested in supporting The Kids Network, please head to our donations page or find out how to become a mentor and give your time to be a hero for a little Londoner.



This article was written by Tessa Cunningham and was originally published in the Daily Mail in April 2024.

The photograph is by Lezli+Rose; hair and make up by Amanda Clarke and Amber Sibley at Joy Goodman; styling by Camilla Ridley-Day and Kathryn Winter.

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