But 150 More Needed
North-East have signed up to become mentors to help disadvantaged young people, in or on the edges of the care system, fulfill their potential.
MCR Pathways’ Young Scottish Talent initiative was launched in the North-East in 2018, as part of the charity’s Scotland-wide expansion. Currently, the school-based mentoring and talent development programme supports disadvantaged and care-experienced pupils at six schools in the North-East – St Machar, Banff, Inverurie, Fraserburgh and Peterhead Academies, as well as The Gordon Schools. The target is to reach 250 young people in North-East secondary schools this year.
After training, mentors are matched with a young person and meet for a weekly one-hour mentoring session. The mentor’s role is to listen, provide encouragement and help their young person realise their full potential and empower them with confidence and self-belief.
Ali MacLachlan, UK director at The Wood Foundation, said: “Reaching 100 mentors is an important milestone for MCR Pathways across the North-East. These mentors will be responsible for supporting 100 of our young people to unlock and fulfil their potential. While this is fantastic, we know that there are many more young people who, through circumstances often outwith their control, lack the necessary networks, pathways and confidence to succeed as they should through their education and into employment.
“We are delighted to be offering strategic support to MCR Pathways as it rolls out its programmes nationwide. A number of our team is also signed up to be mentors. We are looking forward to embarking upon this mentoring journey, forging meaningful, supportive relationships that will help secure more positive outcomes for some of our most vulnerable young people. The mentoring relationship does not only support the young person, it will also play an important role in our commitment to the personal and professional development of our staff.”
Iain MacRitchie, founder of MCR Pathways, said: “We are absolutely delighted that over 100 mentors have signed up in the North-East – it is a fantastic milestone.
“The programme is making a huge difference to so many young people. Our team are working hard and are very committed to helping every young person on the programme to be determined by their talent and never their circumstances.
“Our volunteer mentors come from all walks of life and mentoring is open to anyone over the age of 21. We would be delighted to hear from local people who are interested in becoming a mentor. The programme has proved to be a positive and transformational experience for both young people and their mentors.”
MCR Pathways was established in 2007 and has the backing of the Scottish Government and the local authorities in which it operates. It currently supports almost 2,000 young people each week. The charity’s 2018 annual impact report revealed that the number of care-experienced young people enrolled in the programme leaving school and progressing to university, college or a job is 86 per cent compared to 54 per cent nationally.
The North-East team
Two programme managers have been appointed to drive mentor recruitment in the North-East and support the development of the programme within the schools.
Barry Donaldson, ex-education support officer for literacy and former teacher in Aberdeen City is passionate about education and hopes to share this enthusiasm with the team of school-based Pathway Coordinators he has been appointed to support. Barry’s role also facilitates mentor training and support to those volunteering to work with the programme while ensuring the young people are fully represented in key decisions.
Barry said: “I was hugely impressed and inspired by the MCR Pathways impact. I have been really enthused by reading the stories from mentors and mentees. It is brilliant to see that relationships are at the forefront of everything being done.”
Sam Leys also joins the team as programme manager with a wealth of experience in the third sector. Her previous role as project manager for a local social enterprise was followed as enterprise manager in the North-East for a national charity, helping to support mentors and advise young entrepreneurs on their future.
Sam’s experience in recruiting, training and matching mentors will be key in her new role with MCR Pathways. Previously a mentor herself; Sam was even a finalist for an Inspirational Mentor of the Year, Elevator award in 2018.
Sam is passionate about helping support vulnerable young people in our communities, saying: “Young people are my passion, so working for an organisation that recognises that there is potential in all young people no matter their circumstances is a dream role for me. It’s so exciting to see the positive impact already taking place up here in the North-East. I am really looking forward to seeing how our amazing organisation will shape the future of our young people.”
Anne Heinrich, a new mentor at Banff Academy, says: “I’ve signed up to be a mentor as I’m keen to invest my time in something so worthwhile. Building a new relationship that enables a young person to believe and connect with their own design, passion, and talents in order to find their unique place and contribution in life. That’s something truly rewarding for both of us.”
Further information on the MCR Pathways programme and how to become a mentor is available at www.mcrpathways.org.
Volunteers will be fully trained and supported – they just need to give an hour a week to change a life. At the same time they may have a life-changing experience themselves.