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10% of Glasgow City Council workers to become mentors for city’s school pupils

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The local authority is encouraging its staff to sign up to charity MCR Pathways programme by committing to offering them paid leave if they become mentors for the city's care experienced pupils

Scotland’s largest local authority has promised to ensure at least 10% of its employees will become mentors to help some of the city’s most vulnerable young people get on in life.

In a landmark move, Glasgow City Council made the commitment after it signed up to a project run by MCR Pathways which aims to ensure that every care experienced school pupil in the city has at least one individual that's there for them and advises them.

The charity aims to recruit at least 1,000 mentors by the end of 2018 as part of its Young Glasgow Talent initiative – however the council’s support could see numbers bolstered by up to 1,800.

Council employees who sign up will be trained by MCR Pathways and assigned as a mentor to a pupil of whom they will act as a trusted confidante.

Mentors must commit to meet their mentee at least one hour a week over two years but those who do will be given paid leave by the council to take part.

Launched 10 years ago, the project currently has 321 mentors and runs in 15 secondary schools in Glasgow.

Analysis of the programmes shows that it is making a big difference.

Around 87% of care experienced S5 pupils who were assigned a mentor chose to return to school in 2015/16 compared to 31% of those who did not have a mentor.

Three quarters of mentored school leavers went onto further or higher education and employment compared to the national average of 51%.

Iain MacRitchie, founder of MCR Pathways and its Young Glasgow Talent programme, said the size of the council’s commitment was a national and perhaps an international first.

“An hour a week is all it takes to help transform the outcomes for a young person,” he said.

“With the council’s commitment we will reach across an entire city and for generations to come.

“The scale of the council’s bold move will inspire other organisations in the public sector, education and in business.

“It is hugely humbling and very motivating to see people making Glasgow at this scale. It’s not volunteering, it is just our great city taking care of our own.”

In August 2016, Glasgow City Council formalised and secured the long-term future of the programme by signing one of the country’s biggest public social partnership agreements with MCR Pathways, The Robertson Trust, STV Appeal and the Life Changes Trust.

The simple, main aim is to help raise the attainment and aspirations of thousands of Glasgow’s young people, many of whom may not have a steady influence in their lives.

The programme nurtures their talents with mentoring support from volunteers from all walks of life who are helping pupils achieve better grades and improve their career prospects.

The council’s latest commitment to the programme was announced by its chief executive Annemarie O’Donnell.

“All our young people deserve the very best we can offer, regardless of their personal circumstances or background,” she said.

“This project is not a one-off, but a long term commitment for us.

“Mentoring is making an incredible difference to the lives of some of our most disadvantaged young people and helping to close the attainment gap in the city and tackling some of our well documented social challenges.

“Our workforce is very diverse. Staff have a wide range of skills and experiences that could be used to support and encourage a young person who is disadvantaged through circumstances that are not their fault.

“The rewards are plenty but it’s also about staff development as well as the obvious benefits to the young person.”

Glasgow City Council’s commitment has been welcomed by the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS) which described it as a “tremendous opportunity”.

CELCIS, which is an independent organisation within the University of Strathclyde, offered advice about what it means for children to be looked after, networking, and practical support in the initial set-up of the programme.

Jennifer Davidson, executive director at CELCIS, said: “There is a tremendous opportunity here to provide the much needed stability, and routes to better educational outcomes as required by many young people.

“Although the most recent government figures show education outcomes for looked after children have improved, there are still large gaps compared to other young people.

“Glasgow is showing a fantastic commitment to making real and lasting differences to the lives of some of Scotland’s most vulnerable young people, through this initiative.”

MCR Pathways is still keen to hear from people interested in becoming mentors who do not work at Glasgow City Council.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a mentor visit