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Mentoring for young people

Last updated on 01 October 2020

Safe Space - mentoring programme

Mentoring is available to 11-19 year olds (up to 25 years for young people with learning difficulties/disabilities) across Hertfordshire. Please note for 11 year olds the young person must be in year 7.

The aim of the mentoring programme is to equip the young people with the necessary skills to make informed and positive choices in their lives that allow them to achieve their full potential. Typically a mentoring relationship would last for a duration of 6 months (meeting for an hour or so a week) however this can be longer or shorter depending on the young person’s needs.

Our mentors

All mentors are volunteers and are supported by a mentoring co-ordinator and the Safe Space team

The programme makes a concerted effort to recruit mentors from a wide variety of backgrounds; however professionals need to be aware that it is not always possible to meet a young person’s preference for a particular mentor

All our mentors undergo a robust recruitment process which includes a personal interview and a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Following this, mentors undertake 2 days training which covers topics such as; the role of the mentor, the stages of mentoring, safeguarding, professional boundaries, confidentiality, information sharing and equality and diversity.

The mentoring relationship

Mentoring is not befriending. A mentoring relationship is focused on assisting the young person to achieve specified and agreed goals rather than just spending time with the young person. Mentors do not carry out home visits. All meetings with young people are in a public place, e.g. a café, library or school, and all meetings have the purpose of empowering the young person to make informed decisions for themselves by discussing the options available.

Referral criteria

To ensure that mentoring is a beneficial experience for the young person, it is important that they are matched with a mentor who is able to support their needs. For this reason professionals should assess the support needs of the young person prior to any referral.

As a general rule mentoring is most effective for those young people with low to mid-level support needs. For example, confidence building, time management skills, personal skills to help make new friends, or assistance with job hunting. Mentoring is less likely to be suitable for those young people with intensive or complex support needs, e.g. mental health concerns or diagnosis, or where there are child protection concerns.

The Safe Space mentoring programme is a voluntary programme so only those young people who have expressed an interest in being matched with a mentor should be referred. It is important to note that mentors generally work on their own, out in the community, on a one to one basis with young people. For health and safety reasons it will generally not be acceptable to refer a young person who has a history of violent or aggressive behaviour.

Mentoring should not be used as a ‘stop gap’ whilst the young person is awaiting support from another service. Professionals should always consider any other referrals that have been made and how (or if) mentoring might fit with these. Referrals are not accepted from parents or carers, all referrals need to be initiated by a professional and agreed by the young person.

Please note that any one referrer or school/college may only make a maximum of 2 referrals at any time free of charge, and any one district team may only make a maximum of 5 referrals at any time free of charge. Please contact the mentoring team to discuss options for funding additional referrals if needed.

Referral process for professionals

  1. Consider the level of support needs of the young person. Those with low to mid level support needs can be referred. Those with complex or intensive support needs should be referred to the relevant agency for professional support.
  2. If you wish to make a referral to the mentoring programme this must first be discussed with a mentoring co-ordinator in order to check suitability and waiting times. The team will then provide you with a referral form.
    Once the mentoring team have agreed a referral can be made, professionals should discuss with the young person the structure of the programme, the benefits and boundaries of working with a mentor, and the commitment required. The professional should then support the young person to complete the referral form, outlining why they would like to work with a mentor and completing a statement outlining any background information and support needs that the mentor may need to be aware of.
  3. Once the referral has been made the mentoring co-ordinators will reconsider the referral based on the information provided and proceed to match suitable young people with a mentor. The mentoring team may decline a referral if information presented on the referral form was not mentioned by the professional upon previous discussions.

Continuing professional involvement

The professional who made the referral is expected to attend the first meeting to facilitate the introduction of the mentor and the mentee if necessary. A referral to the mentoring programme does not necessarily mean that the referring professional will cease to work with that young person. Dependent on the support needs of each particular young person the level of continuing professional involvement will differ. In some cases mentoring will be a tool used by the professional alongside the support they are already providing to that young person. In other cases it may be beneficial for the professional to contact the young person to check that they are benefiting from the mentoring relationship. All relevant feedback should be provided to the mentoring co-ordinator.

Peer mentoring

We also offer support to secondary schools to set up peer mentoring programmes allowing older pupils (usually sixth form students) to use their own experiences and knowledge to support and help a younger peer overcome barriers to their attainment at school.

Peer mentoring has multiple benefits, and research has shown that it helps to bring about improvements in pupil’s motivation and academic performance, whilst also increasing their confidence and self-esteem. Peer mentoring utilizes one of the most valuable resources available to every school – its own students.

We offer support to deliver a presentation to recruit peer mentors, deliver a 1 day training course, support to set up mentoring meetings and templates for all necessary paperwork.

Courses are run with groups of up to 15 peer mentors. Please contact the mentoring team to discuss your requirements and costs.

Would you like to have a Mentor?

Telephone: 01992 588796

First published 25 August 2020 - Last updated on 01 October 2020