Edinburgh schools seek hundreds of mentors for disadvantaged pupils

Lockdown has led to a huge increase in number of schoolchildren facing difficulties at school

Pupils with their the mentor Sarah Howie. Picture: Rob McDougall
Pupils with their the mentor Sarah Howie. Picture: Rob McDougall

More than 150 volunteer mentors are being recruited to help disadvantaged young people in the Capital “realise their potential”.

The new mentors will be paired with pupils from schools across the city who have been identified by teachers as needing extra support.

Vulnerable young people will be “buddied up” with a hand-picked mentor who will help them build confidence, overcome challenges and embark on a positive future.

Matches are based on the child and mentors’ shared common interests, similar personalities and life experiences.

The project hopes that these shared characteristics will help the young people build a positive and safe relationship with a trusted adult who can support the child through different challenges.

The Young Edinburgh Talent programme was set up in 2007 by MCR Pathways with the support of the Scottish Government funding.

Over the last 14-years, the programme has helped ensure that every young person in Edinburgh gets the same education outcomes, career opportunities and life chances, despite the challenges that some young people face.

Proving popular among young people and schools the project has recently expanded its services to nine schools throughout Edinburgh due to a “high demand” from pupils.

Young people have responded positively to this new programme with 20 pupils at Liberton High School already indicating a desire to be matched with a mentor.

All mentors work with the project voluntarily and give up their own time to help children who are facing a variety of social and academic challenges.

MCR Pathways founder, Iain MacRitchie, says that since the lockdown hit the Capital the charity has noticed a steady increase in children being referred for support.

He said: “Lockdown has created an uncertain future for thousands of young people across Scotland. Now, more than ever, we need mentors to help young people fulfil their potential.

“Throughout lockdown mentors have continued to support young people online and are now looking for volunteers to work with young people during the current school year.

“Mentoring may be a mix of online and in-person to support the increasing number of young people facing a more uncertain future.”

To make sure every young person who is entitled to a mentor receives the help they require Edinburgh Programme Manager Simon King has asked the public to help spread the word for new volunteer roles.

He said: “Currently we are urgently looking for mentors in and around the City of Edinburgh and would be delighted to hear from local people who are able to give just one hour per week.

“Our mentoring programme is well established and has proven to be a positive, and transformational experience for both young people and their mentors, who come from all walks of life.

“At its core, MCR Pathways is based on a simple premise - mentors sign up to devote regular time to listen, build a trusting relationship and help a young person to find their talent and realise their potential.”

For more information in becoming a mentor, visit www.mcrpathways.org or email [email protected]

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