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What does it take to mentor young offenders?

Updated Friday, 29th April 2016

What are the peaks and challenges that face mentors guiding young offenders? What's in like to mentor generally? Explore in our videos with volunteers from Enterprise Mentors.

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Enterprise Mentors and Prospects connects young people in Milton Keynes who have offended, or are at risk of offending, with local mentors who support them so that they can make the change towards a more positive future. The Open University is involved with the project and independently evaluate the young people's achievements, behaviour and outcomes to assess the benefits of the mentoring project.

Hear from Alexa and Caroline in the videos below on what it's like to be a mentor.

Alexa - mentor

Caroline - project co-ordinator

About the project

The Milton Keynes Enterprise Mentors programme was delivered by Prospect Services and comprised a partnership between Milton Keynes Youth Offending Team, The Christian Foundation and The Open University.  Funding for the project was secured from The Cabinet Office’s Vulnerable and Deprived Young People’s fund. The aim of the Enterprise Mentors programme was to reduce the likelihood of offending or re-offending among the target group of vulnerable and disadvantaged young people.  It did this by encouraging an interest in enterprise and by facilitating young people in their desire to set up business or become entrepreneurs.

Over a period of approximately 18 months, the programme trained and supported a team of 15 volunteer Business Enterprise mentor, linking them to around 50 young people during this period.

10 of the mentors are male and five female.  They ranged in age from 22 to 60 years.   Nine define themselves as white British, two as other British, one as black Caribbean, two as black other, and one as African-American-Irish.

The majority of mentors had some experience in a commercial/enterprise environment, encompassing both small and medium size businesses.  A number of mentors also have a background in social care/work with children and young people.

The programme had three key components:

  • The provision of one-to-one mentoring
  • An opportunity to shadow mentors in their business enterprises
  • An opportunity to engage in a number of enterprise-related challenges

One-to-one mentoring:  Central to the mentoring programme was the development of a one-to-one relationship between the mentor and mentee. This was originally envisaged as comprising six sessions, completed over a three month period.

Shadowing: The second component of the programme was to give mentees the opportunity to ‘shadow’ their mentor in work or enterprise related activities.  Examples of shadowing include observation of retail work in a local shop, an insurance business (which led to full-time employment), observation - and later engagement in - a youth work project, and observation and involvement in video and audio recording.

Challenges: The third component of the mentoring programme was the provision of enterprise challenges. The following are some examples of the challenges posed: work in the canteen at the programme headquarters, preparation of food in a local public house, involvement in video recording, and event management.

Overall, there was strong evidence of success in each of these three components. This was seen as a result of the reflective approach adopted; defining the rationale behind each activity, developing clarity around what works and what doesn’t, and ensuring that these are appropriate to age and skills of individual mentors.

Ever thought of volunteering? Try our badged open course

Find out more about working with young people here






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