Open Access Peer-reviewed Research Article

Turning into a "Godparent": How adult volunteers negotiate their personal life to become a mentor for "Unaccompanied Refugee Minor"

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Eberhard Raithelhuber corresponding author


This article looks into how mentors deal with their biographies and social embeddedness to make sense of their engagement in mentoring before they are matched. It draws on a qualitative investigation carried out during a pilot youth mentoring program for “unaccompanied refugee minors” in Austria. This article reveals how already trained, local adult volunteers actively relate to “family,” “migration” and “previous activities” in their meaning-making. It shows how they negotiate their personal life and existing relationships in the process of turning into a future “godparent.” The discussion of findings against the state of the art leads the way to two heuristic claims: firstly, the study provides grounded arguments for an extension of the conventional mentoring concept on the side of the mentor. Secondly, for a more relational and processual approach towards the mentors’ side, both biographical and social network dimensions need to be integrated in methods and designs of youth mentoring research.

youth mentoring programs, voluntary mentors, unaccompanied refugee minors, personal life, social networks, biography, mentoring as a concept

Article Details

How to Cite
Raithelhuber, E. (2019). Turning into a "Godparent": How adult volunteers negotiate their personal life to become a mentor for "Unaccompanied Refugee Minor". Social Work and Social Welfare, 1(1), 23-36.


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