Funding from Awards For All
We recently gained funding for our Schools Exclusion Project which is a new support service for young people at risk of exclusion. This Support Service will be available to pupils in the last year of primary school and to all pupils in secondary and special schools. We would seek to develop this service in partnership with Black Families Education Support Group (BFESG). We intend to work very closely with the local authority and other voluntary and statutory services such as Off The Record and the Princes Trust, and including CAMHS, 117 Project and Connexions. Mentoring Plus would be the lead organisation working through a steering group of other statutory and voluntary agencies, including the Specialist Behaviour Service and other schools where appropriate. The aims of the project are as follows:
• To help prevent exclusions through early intervention and targeted support
• To support excluded pupils through a tailor-made programme of mentoring, counselling and activities (Key Project and interest groups)
• To support the emotional well-being of young people at risk of exclusion in a school setting
• To provide Peer Mentor Training and support to primary and secondary schools where requested
The project will aim to reduce the risk of exclusion by supporting young people at risk with mentors from the local community. By using positive role models, the aim is to enhance their future educational and career aspirations .The service would be delivered by the development worker supported by a team of existing staff and volunteers and by the recruitment of 20 additional volunteer mentors. The role of the development worker would be to design a tailor-made programme of support for each young person identified as being at risk of exclusion,
A study by The Hansard Society released in April 2012 shows that volunteering in the United Kingdom went down from 29% of the population to 21% in the period 2010 -11. It is a significant figure with very real implications for charities like Mentoring Plus. It means that, as the chill winds of austerity continue to bite, volunteers have never had greater value. Equally, the competition to recruit and retain them has never been stiffer.
With this in mind, it’s incumbent on Mentoring Plus to improve the quality of the overall experience for our volunteers. What we ask of them is uniquely demanding and it’s become clear that they need an increasing amount of support if they are to give our young people the help and encouragement they need.
We’ve therefore piloted the idea of monthly support meetings with mentors. As well as giving them a greater sense of involvement in the project, these meetings enrich the mentor experience and give us the chance to pick up any problems at an early stage. They also help to ensure a greater continuity in the relationships and promote the idea that our volunteers might offer to help us again in the future.
But it’s meant that, as the work of interviewing, training and supporting mentors becomes more intense, a natural split occurs between finding and recruiting such people and supporting them once found.
To this end, our Fundraiser has successfully fund-raised to take on a part-time recruitment person, whose role will be to go out into our local community and actively promote the work of Mentoring Plus.
For there is no doubt that any future development of Mentoring Plus as an organisation relies entirely on our ability to acquire such resilient and caring volunteers. Volunteers who, in a period that will see children and families tested as never before, will play a key role in maintaining the precious fabric of our society.
We have now received approval from the Charity Commission to revise our charitable objectives. This will allow us to widen the category of young people we can support through mentoring, befriending and counselling.
As well as young people at risk of offending, our beneficiaries now also cover:
- Looked after children
- Care leavers
- Young offenders (those in custody and those leaving custody)
- Educationally excluded
- Those not in education, training or employment
- Those at risk of abuse, domestic violence and drug and alcohol addiction.
We hope that this change will enable us to reach even more young people who would benefit from the mentoring experience.
Hi, I’m Lucy. I’m one of two volunteer press officers for Mentoring Plus.
I suppose it’s easy to assume that when you volunteer for a charity, it’s always on the frontline, doing the hands-on work. But, there’s always work to do behind the scenes too and Mentoring Plus is no exception.
I started volunteering for Mentoring Plus in October 2011. I had some free time and wanted to put some of my skills to use. I’ve always worked with young people so I was very familiar with the kind of work Mentoring Plus does but rather than mentor a young person, I wanted to help get the message out about the organisation’s work.
As a press officer, I help Mentoring Plus talk about the work that it does. This can involve writing press releases and articles for local and national newspapers, arranging television or radio coverage about our work or getting the message out through our website and on twitter. I’m also interested in helping our young people get their own voices and experiences heard. I also help promote our fundraising activities, like skydiving and abseiling.
All this activity helps make sure that the local community is aware that we exist and that we are doing good work with young people in the area. It also means that when people are thinking about volunteering or raising money for charity, they will think of us.
I love being a volunteer at Mentoring Plus. It’s given me the chance to learn some new skills and sharpen up some of the skills I already had! I like being able to make a contribution to the organisation and the young people of Bath. The team is fantastic to work with too!
Have you got something to offer us at Mentoring Plus? Perhaps you’ve been thinking about volunteering but don’t know what you could do. Get in touch and talk to us. We’ve always got lots of projects on and can always use a hand behind the scenes. We would love to hear from you.
In addition to our core service of mentoring we also run a series of after school activities. These activities seek to strengthen the relationship the young people have with the project and ultimately with their mentors. As well as enhancing self-esteem, social skills and confidence, attendance at these activities provides a safe environment to experience a wide range of different opportunities. They can also be good fun!
We have just planned the evening activity programme for next term. Highlights include an exciting photography project culminating in a public display at the Holburne museum in July, other craft and music workshops, a Spring Fair, cookery sessions and some great plans for the garden.
The best place to keep up to date with the activity and event schedule is on our calendar at http://www.mentoringplus.net/calendar.html
We have just heard that a recent fundraising bid has been successful. BBC Children in Need have awarded us £30,000 over 3 years. This will fund the staffing required on our KEY activities. The KEY activities form a fundamental part of the mentoring process. It is through these holiday activities that we are first able to engage with the young people referred to the project. KEY provides a warm and friendly way of starting to form initial relationships and also gives us a chance to assess the young people before being matched to a mentor. Many of the young people we work with are, understandably, anxious about engaging with a new service and the KEY activities represent a great way for them to access and begin to feel comfortable with being part of Mentoring Plus. Opportunities for team bonding and social development iare also part of it. Of course, the KEY days are also great fun! We usually start off with 15 young people in a minibus and head out to play manhunt in the woods, go canoeing on the river Wye, go mountain biking in Bristol or go down a coal mine in Wales! Graffiti and craft workshops take place here at Mentoring Plus and we have also run circus skills sessions in our garden.
So, we are chuffed that we can continue to run the KEY activities and that they can be supported in the way that they need to be. They really do hold the key to engagement.
What a lovely evening on Tuesday night. A little bit chilly but the full moon made an appearnce through the clouds to give us enough light for the return leg back to Wellow. We didn’t lose anyone and only had one sore foot between us so not a bad effort. The nightwalk is always a great event, giving young people, staff and mentors an opportunity to wrap up, get out and do something different on a Tuesday night in dark old Febraury. This is all part of what Mentoing Plus is all about – a bit of a cliche I know but the bonding that happens through shared experiences such as this really help strengthen the relationships within the project. I know my dog enjoyed it too!
Hi, I’ve just started as a new face in MP on placement as a student and I will be here until July. Let’s hope it’s a bit warmer by then! I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone who’s involved with the project, and wonder how many fundraising activities I might be persuaded to take part in? So, a bit about me..I’ve just moved from Devon so getting to know what’s going on in Bath. I like music, drumming, archery, art, getting out in the countryside in my wellies, and getting together with my mates for a good laugh and watching a film. I’ve done a few interesting things in the past, like work with Olympic athletes to help them improve their performance, learnt how to read brain scans, helped make a film, and tried to listen to and support young people when they are having a difficult time. I have experience of working with young people and adults who have learning difficulties, mental health issues, physical impairments, brain injury or who are just feeling low and finding life hard-going. I have qualifications in psychology, neuroscience (brain-stuff), a number of talking-therapies, parenting-skills and as a teaching assistant. Over the last 3 years I have mainly worked with schools giving support to students who are managing difficult feelings and might want someone who isn’t a parent or teacher to speak to. I really hope that I can get involved with the fun activities that are on offer at MP and maybe create some new ones.
Being a Social Work student at Mentoring Plus has been a really great experience. There were lots of opportunities to be involved in different projects like the bike group and ‘Futures’, which I thought was amazing and a fantastic film. I am about to start full time study at Uni again which will be great but sometimes I will wish I was going canoeing or in the van going to do Manhunt @ Roundway Beacon or playing LazerQuest!! I have met and spent time with lots of young people and Mentors, all of whom I have learnt a lot from, will really miss and I wish them all the best!
Hi, my name is Michelle I have been working with Mentoring Plus for around 5 years now on a part time basis. I’m from Yorkshire originally but hated the cold so escaped to lovely Bath and have stayed in the South West ever since! I’m a trained Youth Worker and have done lots of volunteer work in the past including a 6 year placement at Off the Record in Bath. I first joined the team as the Participation Co-ordinator; it was my job to develop the Youth Action Group (YAG) which still exists today! My role has expanded dramatically in the past few years, I now co-ordinate and run several of the evening groups including cook group, gardening group, I do support work with young people in schools on a one to one basis and also supervise Mentor and Mentee relationships. I love getting involved in all the activities Mentoring Plus offer– my favourites are running around in the woods at Roundway Beacon, Canoeing (I haven’t fallen in yet!!) and rock climbing.
The YAG exists to provide our young people with an opportunity to voice their opinions, give their ideas and views on how we can improve the service. The young people have lead on running staff training, have organised fundraising fayres, have made films, produced plays and participated in local conferences aimed at young people. The group have been heavily involved in organising fundraising events, last year we abseiled down a building in Bath and completed a cycle ride to Bitton. This year we plan to challenge ourselves even more, plans for 2012 include throwing ourselves out of planes – attached to a skydiver of course, abseiling again down an even higher building and some people are challenging themselves to run the Bath Half Marathon to raise money for new project and activities for Mentoring Plus.
Here are a few comments from young people who have been involved:
“Being involved in YAG has helped raise my confidence and self esteem”
“Something positive and constructive to do”
“A chance to give something back, passing on positive life skills and helping other young people”
“We have a chance to learn leadership skills and are always encouraged to try new projects and ideas”