This blog is courtesy of Donna Cunningham, Project Director at MCR Pathways. Here she talks about their pioneering programme ‘Young Glasgow Talent’.
Young Glasgow Talent – What is it?
Young Glasgow Talent by MCR Pathways is a schools based mentoring and talent development programme. We match top quality mentors with care experienced young people. MCR Pathways vision is simple; we want care experienced and disadvantaged young people to have the same educational outcomes, career opportunities and life chances as any other young person.
To achieve this, mentors guide their young person through their education so that they get the very best out of it. To be there, listen to and support them. To help them find, grow and use their talents. This enables our young people to discover, and proceed confidently, along their chosen pathway. To employment, further education or higher education.
Young Glasgow Talent also provides Talent Tasters. These provide a taste of jobs, careers and all that Glasgow has to offer in arts, culture and sport. Job Tasters are a radical new take on work experience in a way that works for our young people. Sports, Arts and Cultural experiences are a key part of our support to enrich and ensure our young people have every opportunity to experience, participate, learn new skills and perhaps even go on to a successful career in the field. The Taster feedback from our young people has been excellent, reflecting the invaluable opportunities these experiences guarantee. They return to school with fresh inspiration and aspirations!
What’s it like to work for MCR Pathways?
I am so proud to hold the position of Project Director for the MCR Pathways Young Glasgow Talent Programme in Glasgow. Working with young people has always been the most rewarding part of my 32 years in education. So when we discussed me moving to MCR from St Andrew’s Secondary School, (after 12 years!) I was apprehensive. Not of the new job, but of not working directly with the young people. However, 3 years on, being part of something transformational that is supporting ALL of our city’s most disadvantaged has more than compensated! I’m glad to say I still see and communicate with many of the young people I supported. It’s an honour to be a part of their lives and stories. I blag invites to other events that our youngsters are involved in just to see them!
Our Young Glasgow Talent mentoring programme was trialled at St Andrew’s Secondary School. It was a great success! It was all due to the fantastic staff, families, young people and many quality partners we worked with. We quickly found that what made the biggest impact on our young people was the introduction of one to one mentoring. We knew we had something special from early on in the programme and it was just about nurturing and developing this with every other ‘additionality’ we could secure from partners. For four years we worked directly with youngsters and built the foundations of the programme. The programme has gone from strength to strength since, as we’ve brought on an additional 9 schools and 250 mentors. We don’t for a moment think we are anywhere near where we will finally take this programme as we scale it over the next 3 years….it’s so motivating! Everyone has something to bring and our diversity of mentors is even more significant than our diversity of each of our individual young people….all of them are amazing!
I am humbled and inspired on a daily basis. Especially listening to our Pathways Coordinators talking about the challenges our mentors are supporting our young people through and the fantastic outcomes they are subsequently achieving. Nicole, one of our Ambassadors quoted “A mentor 100% changed my life, 100%!” I absolutely believe that and have felt and witnessed it many times over.
At this stage of the academic year, approximately 61 of our mentored young people will be leaving our 10 schools. Of those almost 50% are leaving from S6 which means they’ll have much more confidence and the solid foundations to start their adult life. This is testament to our schools and our mentors who have supported and encouraged them to return to school for a fifth and sixth year. Lot’s of great stories are emerging regarding employment, college and university and we are really excited to be introducing our YGT Next Steps programme that will support our leavers in their transition and beyond. This has been designed by our young people for our young people and mentors and will launch in June 2016.
I would urge anyone who even just ‘thinks’ they may be able to commit to our programme to come along to an Info Session and get on board. It’s such a rewarding experience!
You Can Get Involved & Make the Difference!
Can you help a young person realise their full potential and be defined by their talent not their circumstances?
One hour a week and a willingness to put a young person first are all you need.
You’ll make and experience a life-changing difference in helping a young person to find, grow and use their talents.
MCR Pathways will provide all the training and support you need.
MCR Pathways is a pioneering partnership of the MCR Foundation and Glasgow City Council and actively supported by an increasing number of Glasgow’s leading organisations including Wheatley Group, Glasgow Life, University of Strathclyde, Santander, The Herald, Glasgow Kelvin College, SECC and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. MCR is also supported with funding from the Life Changes Trust.