New service will support young carers and disadvantaged youths in Perth and Kinross

Published by The Perthshire Advertiser

Written by Douglas Dickie

Perth and Kinross Council and award-winning charity MCR Pathways have joined forces to provide a life-changing mentoring programme to three schools – Blairgowrie High School, Perth Grammar School and St John’s RC Academy.

A new support service has started for young people in Perth and Kinross who are carers or have experienced disadvantage in their lives.

Perth and Kinross Council and award-winning charity MCR Pathways have joined forces to provide a life-changing mentoring programme to three schools – Blairgowrie High School, Perth Grammar School and St John’s RC Academy.

The services works by matching a volunteer mentor to help them build confidence, overcome challenges and embark on a positive future.

Weekly mentoring sessions are held between a young person and their mentor, who commits an hour of their time to meet in school each week.

Mentors are fully trained and give their time to listen and encourage a young person.

MCR Pathways is looking for the first 100 volunteer mentors to get involved.

Graeme McEwan, CEO of MCR Pathways, said: “Our volunteers come from all walks of life; anyone can be a mentor, they just need an hour a week and the desire to make a difference. We’d also love to hear from local employers who would like to support staff to get involved.

“Mentors and their employers gain massively from the experience for relatively little time commitment.

“Our partnership with the local authority will make a huge difference to so many young people, directing vital support to those who need it most.

“MCR mentoring is making a statistically significant impact on educational outcomes for Scotland’s young people, many of whom are now even more at risk to a widening attainment gap since the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The service has received support from politicians in the region.

Perth and Kinross Council lifelong learning convener Cllr Caroline Shiers said: “As a council we have already been looking to provide additional support to care-experienced and otherwise disadvantaged young people so they can achieve to their fullest potential in life.

“This partnership with MCR Pathways takes that process a step further by linking mentors with young people for weekly individual contact.

“At a time when lockdown has had a massive impact on us all, and particularly young people, having someone ready to listen and encourage is extremely valuable.”

John Swinney MSP, deputy first minister, education secretary and MSP for Perthshire North, added: “It is crucial that young people in or on the edge of the care system are given every opportunity to succeed in life. To that end, I am delighted that MCR Pathways will be introducing their mentoring programme to three schools in my constituency.

“MCR Pathways will help ensure that potentially vulnerable young people are given the necessary support to move forward with their lives in a positive manner. The impacts of mentoring are well documented and profound – building confidence, expanding skillsets and creating opportunities for those who take part.

“I am sure that this is only the start of a hugely positive collaboration between MCR Pathways and schools across Perth and Kinross. I look forward to seeing the impact that their work will have in the months and years ahead, and I am sure that this news will be welcomed by parents, pupils and teachers alike.”

For more information in becoming a mentor, visit www.mcrpathways.org or email perth-kinross@mcrpathways.org

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