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Project sets new target to attract 500 mentors

A SCHEME set up to provide mentors to help steer disadvantaged young people into better opportunities later in life has set an ambitious target of attracting 500 new volunteers.

The MCR Pathways project has launched the Inspiring500 programme to build on its success in providing 200 troubled young people with advisors who are working with them on career goals and access to higher education.

Currently operating in six schools in Glasgow, the plan is to expand the scheme into all of the city's secondary schools, and a push is now on to attract many more mentors to the cause.

The Herald has backed the MCR Pathways project, which was the brainchild of entrepreneur Iain MacRitchie, for the last 10 months.

It has now been joined by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce (GCC), which has signed up to a new partnership with the group.

It is hoped GCC members can use their expertise and connections in the business world to identify new mentors and encourage them to come forward.

Speaking at the launch of the Inspiring500 campaign at The Buttery restaurant in Glasgow yesterday, Herald editor Magnus Llewellin said: "At the beginning of 2014, The Herald joined forces with MCR Pathways, a decision driven by the vision that every young person should have the opportunity to develop their talents and realise their full potential.

"Since then we have ­publicised and promoted the drive for people to become MCR Pathways mentors to support some of Glasgow's most disadvantaged young people and help them aim for higher or further education, employment and life-changing careers.

"The MCR Pathways team have an inspired and inspiring vision.

"So I am delighted that we are both now joining forces with Glasgow Chamber of Commerce to launch Inspiring500."

Stuart Patrick, CEO of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: "We were told directly by the business community through the work of the Youth Employment Action Groups that mentoring was an important element of how we could support our young people.

"The work of Iain MacRitchie and his team at MCR Pathways provided us with an established and robust model to deliver this recommendation.

"The partnership between Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, The Herald and MCR Pathways is incredibly exciting for us."

Mr MacRitchie launched the scheme in response to statistics which showed that 85 per cent of young people who have experience of the care system leave school without qualifications.

He said: "We engage and inspire young people who have been disadvantaged through no fault of their own to receive the encouragement, care and skills they need and deserve to realise their full potential.

"85 per cent of young people in care currently leave school on or before their 16th birthday inevitably resulting in more limited further and higher education opportunities and job prospects.

"We believe that it does not have to be like this.

"Having a mentor, a young person can be actively supported to achieve all they are capable of.

"Inspiring500 will provide the mentors required to meet the needs of young people now and support their positive progression through education and eventually into the world of work," he went on to say.