Scots mum blasts plans to cut ‘life changing’ mentoring scheme for youngsters in care

Susanne and her son Kyrie

Susanne Richards, 21, said a mentor in high school during a chaotic time at home helped her turn her life around.

A Scots mum who went from school “class clown” to law student with help from a mentoring scheme has blasted council plans to axe its funding.

Susanne Richards, 21, got into trouble for her behaviour at school when she struggled to cope at home. But a ‘life changing’ programme that supports care experienced youngsters across Scotland helped her get back on track.

Now she fears for the future of the scheme by charity MCR pathways, after Glasgow City council said they could pull the funding from August.

More than 27 coordinators in high schools supporting 2000 children and young people in the city are under threat.

Leading Scots judge Lady Rita Rae recently backed calls to stop the cut saying the scheme “keeps young people away from people like me.”

Susanne said the loss would be devastating.

She told the Record: “I struggled at high school with social aspects and fitting in. I’d live with my Gran a while then went back home to my mum and sisters. That was exciting but hard too, there were a lot of issues.

“I acted out and was the class clown. It was a way to be someone else and switch off from what was going on at home. Teachers wrote me off as disruptive or annoying. But my mentor Jennie pushed me to see my potential.

“She called me on it if I messed up but was my number one supporter. I was a lot calmer and more focused by the time I did my Highers.

“I think if they cut funding it’d be devastating. My mentor had my back. With teachers and social workers, I felt I had to watch what I said, but with her I had that trust. I could vent. We still keep in touch, she’s always been there for a chat.”

The mum-of-one is now her now in her fourth year of a law degree at Strathclyde University and hopes to go on to become a mentor.

She said: “Jennie has been such a huge support since I became a mum. I plan to go on to be a mentor with the scheme because I think Scotland’s young people deserve the best chance.

“By cutting one of the biggest supports in schools to care experienced young people, thousands will miss out. I was lucky to have Jennie and I’d want to know that same support is still there for my son if he ever needed it.”

Sharon McIntyre CEO of MCR Pathways said: “We feel a bit on edge, until we know what this means. The uncertainty is just heart breaking. Our mentors do a phenomenal job for young people who are at a disadvantage, through no fault of their own. I’ve seen queues outside our coordinators doors.

“The scheme is like nothing I’ve seen. Young people can be worried and mistrusting of adults and the system. But mentors stand shoulder to shoulder with them. It builds trust and helps young people feel safe, get confident in their own skin and that’s what helps them realise their potential”

A Glasgow Council spokeswoman said: “A review of our MCR mentoring co-ordinators is underway following the council budget in February.



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