Memorandum submitted by the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation
1. Executive summary
1.1 The Mentoring and Befriending Foundation (MBF) recommends that a national mentoring and befriending strategy for engaging with young people classed as NEET and those children and young people who are likely to become NEET is developed for implementation at the local level in both formal education settings and informal community environments.
1.2 Mentoring and befriending can be used as early interventions to support young people who are most likely to become NEET and encourage the raising of aspirations, attainment, self-esteem and confidence and build greater engagement with education, employment and training opportunities. They can also be used as a supportive framework for young people currently classed as NEET who are on the margins of society and support them to re-engage with education, employment and training.
1.3 Investment in mentoring and befriending as part of a sustainable package of support is an effective way of reducing the long-term costs that NEET young people bring and evidence suggests that mentoring and befriending is of benefit to many of the typical groupings that are NEET or tend to become so e.g., care leavers, teenage and lone parents, young offenders, disaffected students and unemployed young people.
2.2 As a national body and strategic partner of the Office of the Third Sector, MBF also works to influence policy and practice in the sector and across government. MBF's vision is of a society where mentoring and befriending can empower all people to reach their full potential.
2.3 MBF is committed
to promoting voluntary regulation of mentoring and befriending projects through
the Approved Provider Standard,
the national benchmark for safe and effective practice. MBF provides support, resources and
commissioners, funders and providers around how one-to-one interventions can be
a useful tool to enable everyone - including in particular those on the margins
of society. For further information about MBF please visit http://www.mandbf.org.uk
3. Information in response to request for services and programmes to support those most at risk of becoming NEET and to reduce the numbers and address the needs of those who have become persistently NEET
3.1 Our written submission focuses on providing evidence and further details about a range of mentoring and befriending programmes and models that could be replicated and expanded to support the NEET group. Targeted mentoring and befriending interventions can help meet the Government's NEET challenge through proven, effective activity and through early intervention usage help to tackle the build-up of potential problems. The one-to-one individual support that is key to the development of mentoring and befriending relationships is an important element to sustain young people's participation and support young people to enter the learning pathways that lead to education and employment.
3.2 One-to-one mentoring and befriending interventions are unique examples of highly personalised forms of individual support. Both involve the development of a relationship in which one individual, who is not family or a close friend, voluntarily gives time to support and encourage another. Because of their focus on one-to-one support, mentoring and befriending projects are well placed to meet the needs of both young people at risk of becoming NEET and those already categorised as such.
3.3 Mentoring and befriending projects offer
flexible, tailored packages of support to individuals and aim to empower those
individuals to make informed choices, reach their potential, increase their
confidence and self-esteem, raise aspirations, develop communication skills and
as early intervention models are well placed to provide cost benefits over the
4. Education settings
4.1 Young people 'at risk' of NEET are more likely
to academically underachieve and be excluded from the education system. They
are also more likely than their peers to be held back by a lack of numeracy and
literacy, substance misuse, behavioural problems or a criminal record. Typically
they are amongst the most vulnerable young people and include young people in
4.2 In education, mentoring and befriending are
being used successfully in school initiatives with many schools introducing
peer mentoring schemes as a direct response to the Every Child Matters and
4.3 MBF was contracted by the DfES to manage the National
Peer Mentoring Pilot 2006-2008 which established a formal peer mentoring scheme
in 180 secondary schools in
4.4 A survey MBF undertook with further education colleges in 2007 found that 30% of those who responded operated peer mentoring projects and of those that did not, 54% expressed an interest in setting up a programme. These numbers are likely to have increased further with the further rollout of the Aimhigher programme which includes a mentoring element and we are undertaking an audit in January 2010 which will help to identify current gaps in the provision of peer mentoring within further education.
4.5 As part of the DCSF's Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) strategy, mentoring and peer mentoring can play a crucial role in reducing the number of young people expected to become NEET and engage them with new learning and progression routes. MBF is managing the 14-19 Greater Manchester Peer Mentoring Challenge Programme which is funded up until September 2010 and uses peer mentoring to raise awareness and aspirations amongst young people about new learning opportunities and progression
routes for 14-19 year olds
and beyond. MBF is training and supporting project co-ordinators to embed
sustainable peer mentoring programmes within a 14-19 setting. Up to 10 peer
mentors in 30 secondary scholls will be trained to provide support and encouragement
to other students in order to promote further personal development and access
to IAG. It aims to complement the
service provided by Connexions by providing an accessible contact 'in-house'
using peers closer to the age of the student. An evaluation to look at the
pilot's impact will be available at the end of the programme and may show that
supporting young people through peer mentoring encourages greater engagement
with education, employment and training.
5. Community settings
5.1 Evidence suggests that mentoring and befriending is of benefit to many of the typical groupings that are NEET or tend to become so e.g., care leavers, teenage and lone parents, young offenders, disaffected students and unemployed young people. Unemployment has a number of major impacts and research shows that if a young man is NEET for six months then by the age of 21 he is five times more likely to have a criminal record, three times more likely to have depression or mental illness, six times less likely to have any qualifications and four times more likely to be our of work (Sinking & Swimming - understanding Britain's Unmet Needs, Young Foundation 2009). Mentoring and befriending support can make a real difference as a means of reducing re-offending and improving access to opportunities in education, training and employment. Mentors can provide positive role models that may be lacking in many lives of young people.
5.2 A study of ten 'Mentoring Plus' programmes run by Crime Concern and Breaking Barriers targeted disaffected young people and offered a one-to-one mentoring service, a programme of education and training and a series of social activities. Mentoring disaffected young people - an evaluation of Mentoring Plus was published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2004 and researchers found that evidence of impact was most marked in relation to engagement in education, training and work. This change was also most marked in projects that were well implemented.
5.3 There have been a number of studies looking at the impact of mentoring and befriending for young people at varying stages of leaving care. Two national studies included Mentoring young people leaving care: Someone for me (JRF, 2005) which revealed that mentoring helped particularly with practical advice, discussing education, employment and training and
finding work. It
was highly valued for helping with relationship problems, building confidence
and emotional well-being. Volunteer mentoring seen
5.4 In addition, a study of a national
mentoring pilot for looked after children by Rainer, Prince's trust and MBF in
2008 found that the majority of young people were predominantly positive about
their experiences of being mentored. The aim of the pilot schemes was for
mentees to receive help with their schoolwork, improve their school attendance,
improve their social and life skills and support in participating in social
networks and group activities. MBF recommends that looked after children and
care leavers are given the opportunity of a mentor or befriender both before
and during their transition to leaving care.
6. Mentoring and befriending projects in action
6.1 Some of the following examples demonstrate the range of mentoring and befriending models that are effective in working as an early intervention with those at risk of becoming NEET as well as supporting those who are typically classed as NEET:
6.2 The Chance UK mentoring programme uses a well structured model of mentoring
involving a high degree of individual support with primary school children with
behavioural difficulties or at risk of developing criminal and anti-social
behaviour. 78% of the children referred are from single parent families and 32%
have already faced exclusion from school. Mentoring is delivered by carefully
screened and trained volunteers who are supervised and supported by a
professional staff team.
6.3 Friends United Network (FUN) provides
long-term, sustained and reliable adult befriending support for children from
low income or single parent families in
6.4 The Hub4 Arts Mentoring Initiative ran for 3 years until March 2009. It was a £1 million partnership project between Artswork, BBC Blast and The Prince's Trust. The project worked with over 5,000 NEET young people aged between 16-25 years and aimed to improve their education, training and employment opportunities, as well as enhancing their self-confidence, skills and abilities. Participants in each region learnt mentoring skills and mentored each other through the formation of creative learning hubs which provided a support network where these young people could also access professional advice and mentoring to realise their full potential. Participants developed the hub into a valuable resource for young people in the region who have an interest in the arts, giving them the opportunity to access training, work experience and engage with local arts professionals to develop learning around arts practices. The young people, who ultimately became responsible for the hub and its development, were supported during this process in attaining the Arts Award accreditation.
6.5 Breakthrough Project aims to prevent exclusion and increase motivation by supporting students displaying early signs of anti-social behaviour. The project provides sports development coaching staff who work with groups of students in a range of schools. Through sport, positive associations are built with the school. Breakthrough was initially ran in South Gloucestershire however due to its increased success Bath, North East Somerset County Council and Somerset County Council have now bought into the programme and it is now being delivered in the same format in both of these 2 counties.
6.6 Northern Learning Trust Sandwriter Mentoring
Project aims to help young people who have offended, or are considered to be at
risk of offending. This is done by pairing them with a mentor who will help by
providing them someone to talk to and who will listen to them, help them to
identify and reach their specified goal, assisting them to find alternative
ways to spend their time and be a positive role model for
7. Summary of recommendations
7.1 A national mentoring and befriending strategy for engaging with young people classed as NEET and those children and young people who are likely to become NEET should be developed for implementation at the local level in both formal education settings and informal community environments.
7.2 Expansion of a range of high quality peer mentoring, mentoring and befriending programmes in primary and secondary schools to support the identification and engagement of young people at risk of falling into the NEET category.
7.3 Investment in community-based mentoring and befriending programmes to support young people classed as NEET and those at risk of becoming NEET.
7.4 Further research commissioned into the most effective models of mentoring and befriending for young people classed as NEET both as a support model to re-engage young people and as an early intervention for those most at risk.
8. Further information
Case studies: MBF has a bank of case studies demonstrating the positive outcomes for individuals as a result of mentoring and befriending activity.
Projects: MBF can put Committee members in touch with mentoring and befriending projects working with the NEET group or those at risk of becoming NEET.