What are the aims of the project?
- To reduce youth crime and other at-risk behaviour
- To increase young people’s involvement in education, training and employment
- To empower young people to maximise their potential
- To enhance young people’s sense of personal and community responsibility
- To enable community members to become involved in solving community difficulties through volunteering
- To work in partnership with local agencies to the benefit of the community
Who are the beneficiaries of the project?
30-35 young people, between the ages of 12-17 years, are referred to us each year. Referrals are accepted from voluntary and statutory agencies as well as friends and family. Participation is voluntary and self-referrals are therefore particularly welcome. Young people are deemed to be at risk through a combination of factors and priority is given to those presenting significant factors from the following categories: Family e.g. conflict at home, Educational History such as poor behaviour or risk of exclusion, Environmental e.g. poor housing, Individual and Emotional, such as behavioural difficulties, susceptibility to peer pressure and drug/substance use. Most have chaotic family lives and 25% are in care, in addition many have a history of truanting, exclusion from school or have simply failed to thrive in mainstream education. The vast majority of young people that we help have low self esteem and behavioural issues and some show specific mental health issues such as ADHD, depression and anxiety.
Each young person is matched for one year with a volunteer mentor, recruited from the local community. Mentors are trained to guide participants through the programme and support their personal, social and educational development. They are supportive, non-judgmental role models who assist young people to develop and achieve their personal goals.
What does the programme consist of?
New referrals are invited to attend KEY activities during school holidays. These activities can include camping trips, outdoor pursuits, circus skills, walks, mountain biking, canoeing, cooking and graffiti workshops. As well as providing much needed holiday activities for young people, KEY has become an integral part of the assessment of young people. KEY is used to determine levels of engagement, suitability and to identify any specific needs or issues that Mentoring Plus should be aware of when working with a particular young person. Initial relationships can be formed during KEY and young people are introduced to the project in a friendly and inclusive manner.
The programme continues with a Contact Day consisting of challenging outdoor activities and focused groupwork for young people and new volunteers. The Contact days take place in the Spring and Autumn each year. As well as providing a stimulating and rewarding activity day, the day assists the mentor / mentee matching process.
The mentoring component is core throughout the programme. There is weekly contact between matched mentors and young people which includes regular action plan reviews. A range of social activities sustains motivation and creates support networks.
The education and training programme, provided in partnership with local training providers, is designed to provide practical, social and educational support. Interest groups assist the development of skills required in the workplace, for instance, attendance, teamwork and communication skills as well as providing young people with practical skills. A variety of groups are offered including gardening groups, cookery groups, bicycle workshops, woodwork workshops, art and photography sessions and creative performance groups.
The project is currently staffed by a number of permanent, sessional staff and student social workers.
Permanent staff comprise:
Mike Tichelar (Project Director)
John Melbourne (Project Manager)
Humphrey Pain (Project Administrator)
Andy Graham (Mentor Co-ordinator)
Sarah Thorn (Fundraiser)
Michelle Kelly (Hear By Right Co-ordinator)
How is the project managed?
The work of the project is overseen by the B&NES Youth Crime Prevention Panel comprising representatives from social, educational and youth services, the Police, Connexions and the Youth Offending Team.
As well as aiding delivery of the Mentoring Plus project in the framework of crime prevention service provision in B&NES, the panel is responsible for the review of project core funding.
Since Mentoring Plus became an independent charity (charity number 1112534) and began operating as a limited company (Company No. 5589316), the project has been managed by a board of Trustees. Trustees bring expertise and experience from a variety of professional backgrounds including legal, publicity, mentoring, finance, the voluntary sector, business and industry. The members provide advice and guidance on project development and operational issues.
The current board of Trustees are:
We are very pleased to have two high profile supporters of Mentoring Plus in:
Professor Rod Morgan, President
Ken Loach, Film Director, Patron
What are the annual targets of the project?
70% of participants in education, training or employment.
60% reduction in arrests.
50% reduction in self-reported offending.