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Council's commitment will change lives of thousands of Glasgow's young people

Annemarie O’Donnell, Glasgow City Council’s Chief Executive, has announced an ambitious New Year commitment to attracting at least 10% of the council’s workforce to its pioneering mentoring project.

In partnership with MCR Pathways, the council volunteers will become trusted confidantes and personal mentors to the city’s most vulnerable and care experienced children and young people.

With the potential to set a precedent across the country, the move could see almost 1800 council employees directly improving the life chances of Glasgow’s young people – guiding, supporting and helping them achieve their ambitions and aspirations.

Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of the council attended the launch at St Roch’s Secondary on Wednesday 18 January and said: “This innovative step is yet another way in which Glasgow is committed to ensuring our most vulnerable children realise their full potential.

“The MCR model provides proven and creative ways to help close the attainment gap in the city and will utilise the scale and full range of skills of the council’s workforce.”

The school-based mentoring and employability programme is now firmly established in 15 city secondary schools, delivering some incredible results and having a major impact supporting hundreds of Glasgow young people on a daily basis.

In 2015/16 the return to school rate for S5 mentored young people across six schools was 87% compared to non-mentored at 31% and in 2015, 73% of mentored school leavers went on to further or higher education and employment compared to the national average of 51%.

In August 2016, the council formalised and secured the long-term future of the programme by signing one of the country’s biggest public social partnership agreements with MCR Pathways, The Robertson Trust, STV Appeal and the Life Changes Trust.

The simple, main aim is to help raise the attainment and aspirations of thousands of Glasgow’s young people, many of whom may not have a steady influence in their lives. The programme nurtures their talents with mentoring support from volunteers from all walks of life who are helping pupils achieve better grades and improve their career prospects.

The target is to have 1000 active mentors in place across Glasgow’s secondary schools by December 2018.

Annemarie O’Donnell, Glasgow City Council’s Chief Executive said: “All our young people deserve the very best we can offer, regardless of their personal circumstances or background. This project is not a one-off, but a long-term commitment for us.

“I have set an ambitious target to engage up to 10% of our employees as mentors. I know this vision will be realised as we have some amazing staff who will be keen to embrace this important role.

“Mentoring is making an incredible difference to the lives of some of our most disadvantaged young people and helping to close the attainment gap in the city and tackling some of our well documented social challenges.

“Our workforce is very diverse. Staff have a wide range of skills and experiences that could be used to support and encourage a young person who is disadvantaged through circumstances that are not their fault.

“We’re asking staff to consider committing to one hour a week over two school years to be part of this amazing initiative. The rewards are plenty but it’s also about staff development as well as the obvious benefits to the young person.”

Iain MacRitchie, Founder of MCR Pathways and its Young Glasgow Talent programme said: “This profound commitment by the Council really is a national and perhaps international first and major precedent. It is truly pioneering in every way and gives us a fantastic opportunity to provide every disadvantaged young person with the 1:1 relationship-based support they need to flourish through school. It is hugely humbling and very motivating to see People Making Glasgow at this scale. It’s not volunteering, it is just our great City taking care of our own.

“An hour a week is all it takes to help transform the outcomes for a young person. With the council’s commitment, we will reach across an entire city and for generations to come. We are seeing some incredible transformations with the most simple and focused form of mentoring. Relationship based mentoring matters and everyone can. We are very committed to turning Annemarie’s and the Council’s vision into reality and will help address the city priorities and close the elusive attainment gap. The scale of the council’s bold move will inspire other organisations in the public sector, education and in business.

“Glasgow has just radically redefined what being a corporate parent means. It is simply now about being a parent committed to helping all its care experienced and vulnerable young people on an individual basis to find, grow and use their talents.

Through the MCR mentoring and talent taster programmes we will bridge potential with opportunity and policy with actions and results. The city’s young people will be defined by their talents and not their circumstances.”

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