National mentoring programme helps keep the promise to young people - Julia Abel

We all need consistent, trusting relationships. For young people with care experience, these relationships can sometimes be lacking. The long-term presence of a trusted adult can make all the difference to their lives.

Julia Abel, Head of Development and Partnerships at Inspiring Scotland.
Julia Abel, Head of Development and Partnerships at Inspiring Scotland.

Young people like Jamie, whose mentor gave him space to vent his frustrations away from a chaotic homelife. Or Cara, who was supported by her mentor throughout a period of bereavement, offering her some much-needed stability during a traumatic time.

These young people are mentored through intandem, Scotland’s national mentoring programme. Funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by Inspiring Scotland, the programme connects young people and volunteer mentors to establish meaningful, supportive and long-lasting relationships.

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For five years, intandem has supported young people who are looked after at home on a Compulsory Supervision Order (CSO). While being in care is often linked to social disadvantage, these young people through no fault of their own have the poorest outcomes of all young people in Scotland, and intandem helps these young people to develop positive relationships and overcome the barriers that come with a difficult childhood. Weekly mentoring sessions encourage these relationships to flourish and allow young people and their mentors to build trust over time.

Intandem is a community-based mentoring programme, with meetings taking place outside of the school environment. Over the last five years, intandem has trained 733 volunteers – an army of everyday, unsung heroes who commit to weekly meetings – and coordinated 450 matches between young people and mentors. With over 3,500 children and young people in Scotland currently living at home under a CSO, it is vital that we continue to invest in them with mentoring support so these children don’t fall through the cracks.

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Mentored young people consistently report increased self-esteem, increased engagement with their communities and improved friendships. One young person mentored by intandem said: “If I didn’t have a mentor in my life, I think I would have been shut down in my room, sad and depressed.” Another remarked that mentoring, ‘gives them space to get out the house and gives [me] time away from my sister and mum’. With Covid-19 prompting an increase in feelings of anxiety and isolation, it’s more crucial than ever that all young people have access to mentoringshould they need it.

In 2018, the Independent Care Review heard from over 5,500 care-experienced people about what needs to change within the Scottish Care System. The outcome was The Promise, a pledge to make change and embed the voices of care-experienced young people in decision-making, and intandem is committed to helping Scotland #KeepThePromise. As part of this commitment it facilitates a Young Person’s Forum, where care-experienced young people can speak on the issues closest to them. The intandem team were also joined this year by an intern with lived experience, who is helping to shape the future work of intandem.

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As well as the essential funding from Scottish Government, intandem is made possible by the dedication of mentors and by the commitment of the programme’s 12 charity partners, who work tirelessly to coordinate matches across Scotland, while intandem is currently embedded in 19 Local Authorities and aspires to bring its services to even more young people across Scotland.

It also has a bold and ambitious vision that Scotland’s children, young people and families can stay together to build and maintain positive, loving relationships. By continuing to expand and deliver, intandem can help Scotland #KeepThePromise to all care-experienced infants, children, young people, adults and their families – that every child grows up loved, safe and respected, able to realise their full potential.

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Find out more about intandem at www.intandem.scot/

Julia Abel, Head of Development and Partnerships at Inspiring Scotland

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