Iain MacRitchie: Why we must change doomed fate of our care-experienced young people

The Herald and Sunday Herald

Published by The Herald Scotland

Written by: Iain MacRitchie – Founder of MCR Pathways

Despite their talents and through no fault of their own, care-experienced young people have been predestined to fail.

Instability, homelessness and addiction. The cost and waste remains, massive.

Yet there is a proven route to deliver equality of education outcomes and life chances.

And it is within our gift to make it so.

Last week, a three-year independent study of the impact of MCR Pathways found it was transformational in education outcomes and the wellbeing of young people who experience the greatest disadvantages.

With the support of a mentor, eight in 10 care-experienced young people left school to go to university, college or work.

These are world-leading impacts. It proves the simple, but crucial, fact that our young people have told us since the beginning – mentoring matters and makes the difference.

I began MCR Pathways more than 12 years ago to meet that ingrained and 30-year challenge.

The model is simple and focused on providing a trusting and caring 1:1 relationship through the most critical school years.

MCR supports more than 2,300 young people each week to achieve, thrive and be determined by their potential, not their circumstances. It makes economic sense.

Do we allow a life predestined to fail or a productive and confident one? Education outcomes determine young people’s job choices and life chances. Relationship-based practice is incredibly effective and with the skills and 12 years’ experience, MCR is readily scalable.

All we ask now, as the Independent Care Review releases its recommendations, is that the MCR model becomes a permanent feature of the education system and is transferred into public ownership.

Scotland’s most comprehensive analysis into the challenges facing care-experienced young people will show that there are many ideas that can be used to reshape and refine our services. Relationships will be at the heart of the changes we need. A good parent will always put their child first.

To support, encourage, motivate and always be there. If parents are unable to, an MCR Pathways mentor will.

As Lord McConnell, former first minister for Scotland, said: “Young people in the ‘care’ of the state have had a raw deal for far too long. “The state has failed to give them the support they need. This model – recognising the value of every individual and engaging individuals to help – is remarkably successful and the statistics prove the impact.”

Mentoring is simple. It’s an hour a week with a young person.

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