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Funded by The Lottery Community Fund our Youth Mentors work one to one with young people usually in school but also in the community (and by Zoom calls more recently) and work with those young people that don’t meet the CAMHS or Early Help threshold. They are usually the young people that require more support than school pastoral care can give but less support than specialist services. Some examples include those who have anxiety, depression, low level self-harm, poor friendship groups, chaotic home lives, struggle with concentration in school, are subject to bullying, using recreational drugs, struggle to follow school structures, etc. Basically it’s anything that affects the wellbeing of that young person potentially having an impact on their mental health.

The project is designed to support vulnerable young people and ensure they can develop to have happier, healthier lives. The positive engagement the youth mentors offer allows for young people to develop skills around resilience, tolerance and social action. All of which contribute to building relationships with those the young people interact with. These better relationships create acceptance and can lead to better community cohesion and support. 

Our aim is to support young people at the earliest possible time. This early intervention can direct young people in a way that prevents them going down a destructive path. The Youth mentor role is as it says - to mentor young people, giving support and advice which is impartial and non-judgemental at a time of crisis and/or transition for a young person. The crisis may only appear to the outside world as a very small thing, but experience tells us that even what appear to be small issues can have a major impact on a young person’s life.

These early interventions mean that school attendance can increase, young people have less anxiety, and with trusted relationships being created, conversations about possible future actions can be held. If the actions are risky there is an opportunity to discuss alternative courses or just making clear the ramifications and consequences may change that young person’s mind on how they act. The environment we create can encourage the young people we mentor to think differently about themselves and the world around them, and make more positive, less risky choices that benefit them and the place they live in.

Referrals to the Youth mentor Programme are welcome from a range of agencies as well as young people being able to self-refer. You can request a referral from Clare Yates, Youth Development Manager at clare@nyy.org.uk.