Judge urges council to retain ‘amazing’ mentoring scheme

Lady Rae said that a reduction in funding “risks writing off this generation and future generations of Glasgow’s most disadvantaged young people”

Lady Rae has written to Glasgow city council praising MCR Pathways, which assists young people in care and fears a reduction in funding

A judge has appealed to city leaders in Glasgow to continue to fund a groundbreaking scheme credited with transforming the lives of young people in care.
Lady Rae wrote to council officials after it was revealed they were considering cutting support for the MCR Pathways mentoring scheme.
Rae, who previously served as the University of Glasgow’s rector and has presided over some of Scotland’s biggest criminal cases, said said that she took action “without hesitation … as someone with knowledge of young people who are greatly disadvantaged”. She has previously been involved with the project.
Iain MacRitchie, a businessman and entrepreneur who founded MCR Pathways in 2007, warned that the consequences “would be felt for a lifetime” by those who were served by the scheme.
Founded in 2007, MCR supports disadvantaged young people across Scotland, including 2,000 in Glasgow. They are care leavers or still in the care system and many live in Scotland’s most deprived areas, receive free school meals and have additional support needs.
At present the scheme is helping 6,000 young people across 130 secondary schools. Research shows that 93 per cent of MCR mentees believe that the support scheme has helped them to build trust.
It also has a significant impact on educational achievements. Almost 83 per cent of pupils progress to college, university or employment, compared with 69 per cent of those not on the scheme.
In a letter to The Times two months ago, MacRitchie said that the council planned to “jeopardise something that is highly effective at a time when it is increasingly needed” as the “hopes and confidence of young people are being devastated amid an escalating teenage mental health crisis and unprecedented school absence rates”.
A further letter, which had 27 signatories from business, education and the arts, said that Glasgow city council should reconsider plans to stop its support. A petition to maintain funding has attracted 5,000 signatures.
In her letter to the council, Lady Rae wrote: “The assistance I seek is to right a wrong which risks writing off this generation and future generations of Glasgow’s most disadvantaged young people. What that support does for young people is just amazing. It helps many move forward with hope for their future, to realise that they can achieve goals.
“It can also keep them in education and, importantly, away from people like me in the day job!
“As a solicitor, advocate and judge, I have seen so many young people ending up in the criminal courts because they have had no guidance, no proper parenting and often no structure in their lives.
“All I ask is that the council gives very careful consideration to all the implications, including those long term, of removing or reducing funding, and that it comes to the conclusion that no reduction for this wonderful project is put through.”
A Glasgow council spokeswoman said: “A review of our MCR mentoring co-ordinators is under way following the council budget in February. No decision has been taken to stop the programme and several options are being explored.
“The cross-party political oversight group will be made aware of the options and we will keep staff and the relevant trade unions informed and updated of developments.”


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