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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Glasgow mentoring scheme hit by council funding cuts

 

The charity MCR Pathways will see funding for school-based coordinators withdrawn. 

Glasgow City Council has confirmed that it is to cut support for a charity-run pupil mentoring scheme. 

Officials from the local authority have confirmed to the Herald newspaper that a budget deal between the SNP and Scottish Greens councillors in the city will see funding for school-based coordinators working on the MCR Pathways scheme withdrawn. 

MCR supports young people across Scotland, including in Glasgow, by providing 1-to-1 mentoring for young people.

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council told the Herald: “Unlike other local authorities, the council directly employ MCR Pathways coordinators within our secondary schools, however we are now exploring other options.”

The founder of MCR Pathways, Dr Iain MacRitchie told the Herald: “This decision cannot have been taken with all the facts given that the MCR programme has been independently researched as transformational for the City’s most disadvantaged young people and been citywide for almost a decade. It is currently supporting 2,000 young people each week as a cost effective and practical implementation of multiple national and citywide education, social work and mental health and wellbeing policies. It provides 1,200 committed, adult volunteer mentors and also brings in their employers for work experiences to fuel aspirations. 700 of these alone delivers in the last 6 months. The programme delivery relies on the Pathways Coordinators in each school to facilitate the programme and also directly support the young people as a valued part of the school teams and local communities.   

"If we remove those ‘one good adult’ relationships from 2,000 of the city’s most disadvantaged young people we will have a devastating impact on their education outcomes, job choices and life chances. And that’s not just for a budget period, it is for a lifetime. 

“As a passionate Glaswegian I simply cannot believe that the city’s elected politicians or officers will see this decision through and allow a generation of young people to be determined by their circumstances or postcode. The Council is the corporate parent of 40% of the young people and without this effective support could end up having to support the other 60%. The potential social cost of failure is staggering and the MCR programme is a focus on prevention.  I am sure sense will prevail and that the corporate parent responsibilities will drive the decisions.  

“The maths doesn’t work with reducing budgets and increasing needs. It’s time for our politicians to be honest and transparent. Talking prevention isn’t providing sticking plasters. Our limited resources must be used to support those that need it most by those that know them best.  Trust and relationships are the prerequisite to any sustainable impact and success.”

Leanne McGuire, chair of the Glasgow City Parents Group, also spoke out against the council’s proposals in the newspaper: "As a dedicated MCR Pathways mentor for several years, it is disheartening to learn about the potential impact of GCC budget cuts on this invaluable service.

“Having witnessed first-hand the transformative impact of MCR Pathways mentoring in Glasgow schools, I am grateful that the charity is not entirely discontinuing the service.

“Nevertheless, the indispensable role played by MCR Coordinators, who provide invaluable support to mentoring relationships, cannot be overstated.  These coordinators forge strong connections with mentees, becoming trusted adults whom pupils rely on.

“The proposed cuts are threatening to disproportionately affect vulnerable pupils, jeopardising the crucial support they require and deserve. It feels short-sighted to be removing support for pupils in a time when we continually hear of pupils' needs rising."

 

Comments

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Steven Mac
about 2 months ago

Hi, as a current MCR Pathways Mentor in another council who have decided to continue supporting the program, I find it very sad and short sighted that GDC will make these dramatic cuts to such an important initiative supporting our most vulnerable children. As a member of Scotland's Children's Panel system, I also see the effects lack of support and parenting can have on these children through no fault of their own. I think it is summed up well by Iain above when he says If we remove those ‘one good adult’ relationships from 2,000 of the city’s most disadvantaged young people we will have a devastating impact on their education outcomes, job choices and life chances. And that’s not just for a budget period, it is for a lifetime!!!. I also appreciate that budgets are very tight just now but implore GDC to reconsider these cuts for such an important support network for our children.

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Danny Basler
about 2 months ago

As a former MCR mentor I have seen the way this program and the commitment of those that run it can dramatically change the life outcomes of the pupils involved. I am also a parent of a child with additional support needs and cutting would seem counterproductive in a financial sense and all others. Dear Glasgow City Council, I can appreciate your financial predicament but has every budget stone been overturned? Instead of a full cut, is partial funding an option?

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Sue Hilder
about 2 months ago

As an MCR mentor of 6 years’ experience, I completely agree with the above comments. The Pathways Coordinators play an absolutely essential role in the programme, and young people in the programme come to rely on them, not only to coordinate communication between mentees and mentors but because they create what the young people view as a ‘haven’ within the school environment which they often find challenging. The Coordinators also develop relationships with youngsters at ‘entry level’ in the programme so that they can best match them with a mentor that suits them, which is an essential element of the process. This news is extremely troubling.

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Bill Armstrong
about 2 months ago

The decision to defund the MCR Pathways programme co-ordinators could not be more misguided and will do irreparable harm to the young people in our schools and in our city. In difficult times, hard decisions need to be made. But irresponsible and false economies must be avoided too, particularly when they will impose enormous costs further down the line. And false economies don’t come more irresponsible than defunding the MCR Pathways programme coordinators. I have been an MCR Pathways mentor for five years. The first young person I mentored presented with seemingly insurmountable problems, in school, in their domestic life, and with significant identity and mental health issues. A bleak future beckoned, one of joblessness and permanent benefits. Crime, drugs and prison couldn’t be discounted either – with the enormous consequent costs all that would pose on our city and society. Four years later, after much listening and support and encouragement, and against all odds, this young person won a place at university. Now confident and optimistic, they are doing well and looking to life beyond university. Far from the financial drag on society that looked so likely five years ago, they are on course to become a productive, tax-paying, and dynamic member of society. Given their experience with MCR Pathways, they are likely to volunteer and give back to society, in ways that few other people are prepared to do. This represents a substantial societal gain to the local community and to Glasgow. And an economic gain that would probably dwarf the cost of funding the programme co-ordinator. And this is only one story of the hundreds of similar stories at one school, and thousands more across Glasgow as a whole. The MCR Pathways programme taps into a phenomenal wealth of volunteer talent, experience, training and goodwill – unparalleled in any other programme.

All of which is utterly and crucially dependent on the programme co-ordinator. The work the MCR Pathways programme co-ordinator does - work which far exceeds their description, any raw statistics or what can be contained in any bureaucratic report – is crucial. Without the MCR Pathways programme co-ordinators the programme would not survive in any meaningful sense. To suggest otherwise is dishonest and irresponsible. And will be seen as such. As seed corn, the programme co-ordinators are as inexpensive and as effective and efficient as it gets. You don’t get better value for money. Defunding the MCR Pathways programme co-ordinators is a short-sighted, irresponsible, and disastrous false economy that will leave a legacy of damage to our children, our community and our city that will take generations to put right.