SAYes Mentoring Celebrates 10 Years of Inspiring Social Change in Cape Town in Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa – 18 September 2018SAYes, a Cape Town non-profit that facilitates mentoring for under-served young people, is celebrating 10 years since its founding. From its small beginnings with 15 mentor-mentee matches in the first-year programme, SAYes has now grown to 111 mentor-mentee matches in 2018. Over the last 10 years, SAYes has facilitated a total of 15,750 hours of mentoring for 392 young people in the Cape Town area.

To celebrate this important milestone and as a token of appreciation to its volunteer mentors, SAYes held a special event sponsored by Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel and Netto Invest. The event featured celebrated former Springbok captain and SAYes Mentoring Patron, Jean De Villers, as a guest speaker. Mr. De Villiers delivered an uplifting speech about life lessons he learned throughout his rugby career about the importance of perseverance and dedication, especially as he worked tenaciously to beat the odds and overcome multiple severe injuries. He also called on all South Africans to participate in social change.

“It’s the responsibility of all South Africans to look around, recognise the need to build more equality, and then take action,” said Mr. De Villiers. “The most important type of success any of us can have is to positively impact someone’s life. Giving of your time through a programme like SAYes Mentoring is a powerful way to do just that.”

Co-founded in 2008 by UK actor, activist and writer, Gillian Anderson, and SAYes Executive Director, Michelle Potter, SAYes provides a structured, formal mentoring programme for young people growing up in challenging circumstances who are preparing to transition into adulthood. SAYes matches young people with volunteer mentors and provides a framework and supportive ecosystem of specialised staff and resources designed to maximise the impact and effectiveness of mentoring. SAYes believes that the guidance, advocacy and support provided by mentors is key to preparing young people for adulthood and inspiring meaningful social change. 

“We’re incredibly proud of this milestone and the impact of SAYes Mentoring over the last decade, particularly the mentor and mentees who have had the courage to continue showing up for each other to make the programme possible,” said Gillian Anderson. “I’m filled with gratitude for the generosity of our donors and the SAYes community, who have shown unwavering support for the SAYes vision of creating a more equal world for all young people through mentoring.”

“Throughout ten years of SAYes Mentoring, my greatest joy has been to witness the relationships that develop between mentors and mentees, who most likely would never have crossed paths in life otherwise, and to see how those relationships move and inspire them,” said Michelle Potter. “I’m overjoyed and humbled to celebrate SAYes Mentoring’s ten year anniversary, but I also know this is just the beginning. Our dream is to one day provide mentorship for every single under-served young person across South Africa.”

The Power of Mentoring to Inspire Social Change

Adolescence and the transition from childhood to independence is a challenging time for everyone. A concoction of social, physiological and psychological factors can predispose teens to risky behaviour, and young people often lack the knowledge and experience to adequately navigate high-stakes decision-making in their teens, which can carry serious implications into adulthood. In South Africa, the challenges adolescents face are often further aggravated by difficult circumstances related to poverty, inequality, and lack of family support, ultimately making young people more susceptible to falling into homelessness, crime and other high-risk situations.

As young people transition into adulthood, they are faced with new and unfamiliar obstacles such as finding and maintaining employment and housing, managing finances and advancing their education. Not to mention, deeply personal obstacles such as developing healthy relationships and maintaining their physical and mental well-being. Effective mentoring can guide young people through this vulnerable and consequential time in life, towards thriving as independent adults.

SAYes Mentoring guides mentors and mentees through a mentorship programme designed to improve independence and well-being. The programme’s independence-focused domains include education and learning, work and money, family and community, sport and recreation, living situation and citizenship. Domains focused on well-being include social health, emotional health, identity health, cognitive health, physical health.

“I’ve now had five mentors through SAYes, and my experience with each of them has been empowering and inspiring in a unique way,” said Lauren Ramos, SAYes mentee. “A mentor is not like a parent or just another adult telling you what to do. My mentors have been like big sisters — I can talk to them about anything, and they are really committed to my happiness and well-being. It’s a relationship unlike anything else.”

The Mentor Experience

Mentors also benefit significantly from the SAYes programme. Mentor training is designed and delivered by SAYes operations director and research psychologist, Dr. Andrew Dellis. The mentoring skills and experience gained through the programme can be applied in professional settings, bolstering mentors’ career qualifications. Additionally, mentors have opportunities to meet other like-minded individuals, and develop genuine, rewarding relationships with young people in their communities.

“When the SAYes Mentoring journey begins, as mentors, we believe we are there to guide, teach and share life skills with a young person. However, one quickly realises that young person is also there to teach you important life lessons and help you grow,” said Khoabane Phoofolo, SAYes mentor. “SAYes provides an invaluable opportunity for anyone interested in learning about social change, connecting with their community and broadening their perspective.”

The Opportunity to Become a SAYes Mentor

SAYes is now accepting volunteer mentor applications now through January 2019 for the 2019 programme. If you are interested in becoming a SAYes mentor, please register for an upcoming information session by visiting:, or emailing:

For more information about SAYes Mentoring refer to

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Date published: 
Tuesday, 18 September, 2018

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