This project, run by An Inclusive Future, enables pupils from local schools with low learning and social aspirations to be matched with an older pupil as a mentor. Our trained peer-mentor is able to provide clear and structured support to raise aspirations, build confidence, promote good mental health, and provide support in overcoming any barriers to learning and social development.
Our client was a year 13 student at a local high school. She volunteered to become a learning mentor initially to help year 7 pupils with the transition from primary school into secondary school together with all the associated challenges.
She accessed a 2 day mentor training course delivered by an Inclusive Future which equipped her with a range of new skills including signposting and identification of early mental health issues. As a result she was able to engage with a number of year 7 pupils, support them with any problems or concerns they were having and where and when necessary report any problems she felt needed addressing to an appropriate member of staff e.g. year head.
She has found being a mentor so fulfilling that she actually changed her mind with regards to the university course which wanted to undertake. She is now in the 2nd year of and undergraduate degree in health & social care with some additional training in counselling.
Although the initial project funding for the project ended in the first half of 2020 it was always our intention to roll the programme out to a wider number of schools in the West Lancashire area and beyond. Due to the ongoing and rapidly changing landscape of COVID – 19, and the fact that schools have been largely closed since mid-2020, we have been restricted in the contact we have been able to make with schools that have expressed an interest in the project. We have however been exploring a number of funding streams including National Lottery Reaching Communities in order to allow us to expand the project to a wider number of schools when it is possible and practical.
It is our goal to ensure that the PROPEL project becomes self-sustaining in the long term. As a result, in addition to external grants it is hope that the programme could be funded by making it integral to the school offer and supported by school funding either via a schools designated budget or the Local Authority.
Feedback from the project has been extremely positive. As a result, An Inclusive Future CIC have also been in discussion with a number of agencies and organisations about the possibility of extending the reach of the programme to include additional support such as health eating, smoking cessation etc and adapting the programme to support a wider range of beneficiaries in the community such as homeless people and those with substance issues.