MCR Pathways Wins National Charity Award

The Centre for Social Justice Awards 2021 has chosen MCR Pathways as one of Britain’s winners at 'UK’s Charity Oscars'.

MCR Pathways, a mentoring and talent development programme which supports young people in or on the edges of the care system, has emerged as one of just four winners across Britain. Television presenter Prue Leith CBE, presented the award in an online video.

Working within the school system, MCR Pathways seeks to eliminate the education and life chances gap that exists between children in care, and their peers.

Their programme comes alongside these young people, who often experience domestic instability, and matches them with volunteers who provide personalised and consistent weekly support.

The charity currently assists 3,000 young people across 12 local authorities in Scotland, although that number is expected to increase to 4,000 by the end of the year.

Of this cohort, 82 per cent of mentored pupils left school for college, university or employment, compared with just 60 per cent of non-mentored peers.

During lockdown, MCR pathways organised funding to deliver over 300 laptops and data connections to pupils across Scotland who were digitally excluded and could not receive online lessons.

Their model, which hands the support programme over to the local authority at the end of five years, offers a viable, scalable and replicable model for similar charities across Britain. The charity’s work has become embedded in the local authority system, a rarity in the charity sector.

MCR Pathways have recently received funding from the Scottish Government to expand and implement their mentoring package in every local authority across Scotland, and are at the very early stages of replicating their model in England.

Dubbed the UK’s ‘charity Oscars’, the CSJ Awards are being hosted as part of a bid to reinvigorate small UK charities, which have been struggling for over a year since Covid-19 lockdowns were first imposed.

The CSJ Awards are an annual, high profile award ceremony that honours the best grassroot, poverty-fighting charities and social enterprises from across Britain.

The UK’s top four small charities will each receive a prize for their work, consisting of £10,000 and profile-raising promotion from the CSJ.

Previous winners have variously been profiled on primetime television, had their services rolled out in every school across the country, and secured over £500,000 in additional funding due to the exposure the CSJ Awards gave them.

The 2021 winners were chosen from a field of 127 applicants, all with an annual turnover of £2million or less.

The CSJ has produced short films about each of the winners, which can be seen on the CSJ website.

Dr Iain MacRitchie, Founder and Chair of MCR Pathways, said:

“The MCR school-based mentoring model has a transformational impact on young people’s lives. This recognition from the CSJ will help propel us from the 3,000 young people we currently support each week, to reach our ambition of helping 10 times that number. The MCR model helps reduce exclusions and the subsequent devastation in education outcomes, employment opportunities and life chances. By giving our most disadvantaged young people 1:1 relationship support, as part of the education system, we ensure they are determined by their talent and potential, never their circumstances. MCR mentoring gives profound and life changing benefits to both mentee and mentor with independent research showing major impacts in engagement, attainment, progression and wellbeing.  We hope MCR mentoring will be established across every secondary school in England, as it is being in Scotland, reducing inequality and inspiring far greater levels of social mobility.”

Andy Cook, Chief Executive of the Centre for Social Justice think tank, said:

“The CSJ Awards are a highlight of our year, as we can advance the cause of Britain’s best small charities, who are doing so much for this country.

“MCR Pathways supports thousands of vulnerable children across Scotland, and by helping them to excel in their education, forms the foundation for a healthy and stable future. They show that even children who have had a very difficult start to life can reach their full potential.

“I congratulate them on winning the Award this year amid a strong field of candidates, and very much look forward to working with them.”

Watch the short film, created by CSJ, which tells the story of Emily and her mentor, Elaine and highlights MCR Pathways’ mission.

To read more on the awards, visit CSJ’s website –

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