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Swindon Youth Mentoring
This part of our Project works with older children and young people . For our programme working with younger children, please see our Memory Makers programme.
Why Does Swindon Need a Youth Mentoring Scheme?
- 1,523 young people were excluded from Swindon schools last year (Swindon Borough Council)
- Less than 50% of young people in Swindon don’t get five GCSE grades (Wiltshire Community Foundation)
- The rate of young people in Swindon being admitted to hospital for self-harm and alcohol abuse is higher than the national average (Public Health England)
Those are the statistics that local authorities, social services and schools collect.
What SMASH sees are individuals with potential, strengths, talents, desires and dreams.
What SMASH has found over the past 16 years is that by listening, guiding and supporting young people, we can support them to change their lives, improve their grades, find employment, and fulfil their potential.
That’s why Swindon needs a mentoring scheme – because thousands of young people are out there waiting for the opportunity to change.
SMASH doesn’t see young people as having ‘problems’ – we don’t treat them as ‘victims.’
We know them as Joshua, Sharon, Carey and Luke – young people who are bright, caring, ambitious individuals who, with a little guidance, will find their way.
Swindon needs a mentoring scheme because young people say: “what makes the difference is that no one pays my mentor to see me. He turns up week after week to see me. I must be okay if someone does that.”
Why Should I Become a Mentor?
Put simply, our youth mentoring programme works. It’s an opportunity for you to change the life of a young person who, through no fault of their own, is not receiving the attention, encouragement and support they need.
A major study of high risk young people from 2013 found that those with mentors had had fewer depressive symptoms, greater acceptance by their peers, more positive beliefs about their ability to succeed in school, and better grades in school than those without.
After they leave us, many of our young people return to school, get fantastic exam results and even go on to higher education. Others learn to manage difficult problems at home, or take advantage of opportunities within their community to join youth groups, sports teams, and other clubs.
But it’s not only the young people themselves who benefit from a mentoring relationship. Lots of mentors have told us that mentoring has helped them in their careers, by teaching them people skills, and providing them with first-hand experience of being an influential leader – not to mention the enormous satisfaction of watching a young person’s belief in themselves blossom.
What Does Mentoring Involve?
We help them discover what they can do.
Mentors meet with the same young person once a week, typically for a year, to give support, encouragement and guidance. Mentors encourage young people to believe in themselves, building up their self-confidence and helping them take the first steps towards achieving their goals.
Our young people may have been let down by adults in the past. They may not have an opportunity to voice how they feel – or if they do, they might not have anyone who really cares. Often, the most important thing a mentor can do is to simply be there for the young person – to be a trusted adult who will listen to them without judgement.
We also arrange events and activities, giving our young people the opportunity to try out new experiences not normally available to them. For example, the Ridgeway Walk in 2014 – an 85 mile trail that was completed by ten of our young people walking in a relay. These young people had never faced a challenge like this before, and completing it boosted their sense of accomplishment, helping them to realise that they are capable of much more.
How Do I Become a Mentor?
We could never have done it without people like you.
Our volunteer mentors come from all walks of life, from university students to senior executives. You don’t need any special qualifications or work experience with children and young people – we provide full training and support.
As long as you are over 21, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming a mentor – you just need to be dedicated, enthusiastic, and passionate about changing a young person’s life. We do our best to match you carefully with a young person who has similar interests. Mentors and young people often stay in touch afterwards – even if just for an occasional visit to see how things have worked out.
Click here to open the application form: Volunteer Mentor Application Form Nov 2017 (or right click and ‘save link as’ to download). You can fill this in on your computer and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can print it off and fill it out by hand then return it to:
SMASH Youth Project
Pinetrees Community Centre,
Next Training Dates in 2018:
- Our next training programme is planned for February 2018 – dates TBC.
If you have any questions about our Mentoring Programme for children and young people that we haven’t covered on this page, please get in touch with us on 01793 729748.
Make that person you.