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Feb 07 2012

Harrow’s Youth Mentoring Scheme – 10 Years of Success

Harrow’s youth mentoring scheme has been so successful in its ten years of operation that council chiefs have decided to extend and expand the scheme even further in 2012.

The one-to-one mentoring offered by trained volunteers helps young people from the borough who are in need of extra guidance or support.

The scheme has produced a number of excellent examples of its success including Harrow’s 2010 Young Volunteer of the Year, Sumo Charles. And research shows that young people who take part in the mentoring scheme are more likely to reach their goals and not re-offend.

Portfolio holder for Children’s Service, Cllr Mitzi Green said:

“We know that Harrow’s youth mentoring scheme has helped hundreds of young people in the borough develop their life skills, confidence and abilities. Now we want to take it a step further and extend our reach to even more young people.

It is a perfect example of the major difference that can be made when communities work together. We are lucky in Harrow that we have such vibrant community spirit and a willingness to help and support each other, as a council we want to harness and develop that.”

The decision to push the scheme even further in 2012 will be welcomed by the many young people who benefit from the mentoring process. Many of them have experienced difficulties or serious issues at home or school that made them vulnerable. Also many young people who were offending have been supported to make positive changes to their lives, with some even coming back to the project as mentors themselves.

Plans to extend the scheme will see the capacity of the mentoring project double with additional volunteer mentors being recruited and trained. The mentors come from all walks of life and represent all the communities of Harrow.

Harrow resident Sean Matthews (19) was mentored as part of the scheme when he was referred from the council’s Youth Offending Team.

“I got myself into some trouble when I was younger. I went through a phase and went down the wrong path. I had some things that I knew I needed to address and this helped me to do it.

For me all I needed was to have someone to speak to, someone to guide me that I could trust and confide in. I had been getting into trouble and involved in fights, I knew I had made mistakes but I wanted to move on from it.

You can’t change the past, but this scheme helped me get to where I am now. I couldn’t have done it without them. I’m working part time and studying business management at Uni, I have plans now. I am so grateful, it helped me a lot.

I would recommend it to anyone you won’t get a better opportunity.”

Volunteer mentor, Barry Howes (45) describes his experience of the scheme and talks about why he would recommend it to others. His work with the volunteer scheme has also added to his experience in youth work, an area he intends to carve a future career in.

“I think I get just as much out of it as the young guy I mentor. A lot of people get satisfaction from helping others and things are so much tougher for young people these days that they need our support from time to time.

As a mentor I have life experience and ways of coping with situations that these young people might not have developed yet. It is about helping them to face these challenges and learn to cope and manage. It is completely non-judgemental and totally confidential.”

We know that Harrow’s youth mentoring scheme has helped hundreds of young people –  Portfolio holder for Children’s Service, Cllr Mitzi Green

To boost the reach of the scheme the council plans to put out to tender a contract to voluntary organisation providers. The contract will allow the setting up of three Community Mentoring Projects in Harrow. The Somali, Tamil and Afghan projects will be focusing their mentoring work on young people from within their own communities in need of support. The council will also be resourcing these projects by training their volunteers and with access to advisors.

Anyone interested in applying to be trained as a mentor should contact Simon or Michaela on 0208 7366755 for more information.

Source: Harrow Council

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