MCR Pathways graduate on why the scheme is so important

Photo: Leon Cameron, a former mentee on the MCR Pathways scheme

The cutting of a mentorship scheme in Glasgow could lead to some of the city’s most vulnerable people dropping out of education, a graduate of the programme has warned. As revealed by The Herald, Glasgow City Council is planning to cut support for the MCR pathways scheme as part of the SNP-Green budget deal. Founded in 2007, the scheme provides one-to-one mentoring for young people and currently supports 2,000 young people each week in the city.

Campaigners have warned that removing support from some of Glasgow’s most disadvantaged young people will have a devastating effect on their educational prospects, job choices and life chances. Leon Cameron is a care-experienced university student who went through the programme, and says his mentorship changed his life.

He told The Herald: “The school picks up on young people who are from disadvantaged backgrounds, which covers a range of care experience, vulnerable, socially anxious and things like that.

“At the time I thought it was just another social work thing, I’m care experienced so I grew up under the supervision of social work so I didn’t really bother with it at first.

“But I stuck in with it and I got a mentor who really, really helped me. “It was a 50 minute meeting once a week and that went on until 2022.

“It was something to look forward to as a vulnerable young person in school, it was someone you could confide in and talk about work, school or your family life which was something that was really important to me. 

“Another important point was that there was a pathways co-ordinator who is always in the school and I used to sit in their office pretty much every day with my friends who were also in the MCR Pathway and just kind of talk about life, all of which was really important for me.

“I don’t think I’d have got to university without the support of my mentor, he helped me through work, had connections and I don’t think I’d have even realised I could get to university without MCR Pathways.

“I don’t think I’d have reached sixth year in secondary school without having that opportunity to meet my mentor every single week, he was really pushing me on and building my confidence.”

As well as providing an outlet, the scheme helps young people to gain confidence and offers assistance with their education.

Mr Cameron said: “The meetings naturally build your confidence, we’d talk about things like work or my mentor would help me through essays.

“We’d talk about life, and what was interesting is that he had a completely opposite life to mine so we’d chat about that.

“We’d chat about school, friends… just someone to confide in. It was very private, just one-to-one every week.

“Without MCR Pathways I wouldn’t have had my mentor to talk to, I wouldn’t have had that opportunity to build my confidence and I definitely wouldn’t have gone to university without it.

“Without the programme I don’t know where I would be, but I wouldn’t have got to sixth year and I wouldn’t have got to university for sure.

“My mentor has a background in social science and politics and that was a big factor in helping me realise I was actually pretty interested in politics because we would talk about it all the time.”

Having been through the programme and felt its benefits, Mr Cameron is apprehensive about the impact its removal will have on young people in Glasgow. He said: “There are a lot of vulnerable people on the programme, and it kind of gives you an incentive to go to school, ‘I’m meeting my mentor today I’ve got to go to school’.

“It might seem like a small thing, just meeting someone for an hour a week, but it does make a massive difference.”

“I’ve met hundreds of young people who were on the programme, I was an ambassador for the charity, and I was a mentee for many years and I’ve met so many young people who absolutely loved it.”

“Without the programme a lot of young people will suffer from not getting that confidence booster once a week.”

In response to questions about the proposed cuts to the programme, a spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said: “Unlike other local authorities, the council directly employ MCR Pathways coordinators within our secondary schools, however we are now exploring other options.”

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