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2013 Peer mentoring to get young people into work



Community Resolve ( had been working with some of the most marginalised young people in central Bristol for over 10 years. Building on learning from a series of different interventions and action research projects, they developed the Mentors+ model of work to guide disengaged young people back into productive activity. The model provided ongoing engagement with young people for up to 6 months, giving them a chance to develop close and meaningful relationships with young adult mentors they could both identify with and look up to.
Mentors+ , Bristol 2012 & 2013
Motivating unemployed young people towards work
through peer mentoring
Background to the Mentors+ Project
Community Resolve had been working with some of the most marginalised young people in central Bristol for over
10 years. Building on learning from a series of different interventions and action research projects (see other reports
on our website), we developed the Mentors+ model of work to guide
disengaged young people back into productive activity. The model provided
ongoing engagement with young people for up to 6 months, giving them a
chance to develop close and meaningful relationships with young adult
mentors they could both identify with and look up to. Given the long history
many of these youngsters had of being let down by schools and agencies, we
found that this worked best when the mentors were drawn from the same
communities that the mentees come from.
Our Mentors+ project in Lawrence Hill in 2012 was a 6-month pilot project carried out by Community Resolve for
Bristol City Council Economy, Enterprise and Inclusion Team (see Performance Targets on the last page of this
report). Its design was based on research in which young people were asked what would be helpful to them when
looking for work. A key finding was that young people thought that having a peer mentor - someone of similar age
and background who has had some success in the labour market to provide encouragement, talk with and work
things through - would be helpful. The idea was tried and tested by pairing up 60 young people 16-24 in Bristols
Lawrence Hill ward in a ‘buddy’ relationship for 6 weeks the ward chosen as one of the largest in Bristol with one
of the highest youth unemployment rates. The mentor helped each mentee find work or work/enterprise-related
training, work experience, apprenticeships, or intensive support toward any of these goals.
Following the success of the first pilot, a small team working 16 hours a week ran a second Mentors+ project in early
2013. This project worked with a further 30 young people and extended beyond Lawrence Hill and was advertised
throughout Easton, St Pauls, Lawrence Hill and Bristol city centre. A clear and simple flyer was distributed in
Neighbourhood information stands, through outreach by approaching young people face-to-face on the streets, and
through Job Centre Plus open days for young people. All those who signed up
were then given training to help them make the most of this opportunity,
including workshop CVs and sessions on professionality and standards required in
workplaces. These were delivered by the Mentors+ team at Community Resolve
and also by our partner organisations (see box next page).
Outcomes from the two pilots
What was noticeable was the desire of young people to help others it was easier
on both projects to recruit mentors than mentees and everyone involved
accessed at least one training or development opportunity. Many accessed more
than one.
Moving into work - 13 mentees got jobs over the six months, and are still in them six months later. This in itself is a
great success story, as for many of them it is their first sustained working experience. Their placements included:
o Royal Mail x4
o Office Administration x2
o Pizza Delivery
o Burger Bar
o Film Extra
o Construction work
o Warehousing
o Call Centre
o Retail
90% of the young people on
the project said that work
experience, training and
volunteering for work were
all useful, as was the
mentoring and the life
experience - but that what
they need the most is a paid
job, no matter what the
other outcomes are.
“I have never been a mentor
before, but I would like to be able
to be a positive influence on
another young person, and to
gain confidence myself”
African-Caribbean Mentor, aged 21
Expanding their horizons 11 young people from some of the most
deprived areas of Bristol went on work placements in Europe as part of
the Leonardo da Vinci programme, organised by Phoenix Enterprises. As
many of them struggled to find jobs in Bristol, this opportunity
opened them up to the working world and gave them a structure
that they never had before. For those who took this route, their
working success abroad has opened them up to work in the UK.
Further education 1 mentee enrolled on a university course to start in
September 2013. Another enrolled on a three year diploma course in
The programme structure
The pairs of mentors/mentees met weekly with each other
following a structured programme of discussions and action tasks
designed to move the mentee towards work. Community Resolve
ran 3 intakes/cohorts of 6-week duration across the six months,
starting in July, early September, and late October 2012. It was
important to create a structure that would build and sustain
momentum and immediacy for the majority of the mentees as
most were self-referring and at least 60% of them showed they
wanted things to happen quickly in order to stay on board.
The success of these two projects build on years of previous, unseen and unrecognised work. Our research had
shown that young people would like to work in the local shops and businesses in their own area. The simplest and
most effective formula for getting young people into work took some time to get established. As it was clear that the
ability for most traders to offer that was low, so they would need to build their capacity first, the Community Resolve
street-based team initiated the set up of the Stapleton Road Traders Association in 2010 specifically to create links
with and to support potential employers for local young people. Brokering work experience placements with the
traders, and placing young mentees in those at their own request during November and December 12 proved
positive. So far 11 small traders in and around Stapleton Road have agreed to offer work placements to young
people through this scheme. One trader in particular said he would like to be able to offer an apprenticeship to a
young person.
Projects require enough trained mentors to be culturally sensitive. For example, large numbers of female
Somali mentees required trained female mentors.
Apprenticeships are not pulling them in - only one young person was interested in getting an apprenticeship,
and then could not even secure one.
‘Ask About Me’ Business Mentoring Schemes are we successfully completed two business set up courses
run by Outreach for young people and adults. We deliberately mixed them up in order to develop community
relationship building across the generations.
Bearing in mind that we were not an employment agency, we are confident that the buddy approach we used
allowed both mentors and mentees to flourish. Many individuals grew in confidence and moved on quickly
from where they were to being more self-assured and able to move in a positive direction because of the
peer mentoring.
We worked closely with a tried and tested
group of partners.
The city council commissioning team regularly
attended steering group meetings, while
Job Centre Plus kept us informed of open days
and information we can use to get young
people on the project. Phoenix Enterprise
offered mentors and mentees a chance to
expand their horizons with work placement
opportunities in Europe on the Leonardo Da
Vinci programme. Our links with the, run by
the Creative Youth Network in central Bristol,
led to a connection with two of their
volunteers at the youth-hub ‘The Station’, who
not only wanted to mentor young people into
employment and or training but wanted
training themselves! We helped them to get
onto a training course to support them in their
voluntary role within the Station.
Attrition Rate
Despite efforts to retain them, there were drop outs and also a small number who were unable to progress - some
example are listed below. Significantly these hard to move on mentees were generally female.
Drop-out rate
Mentors reasons/barriers
Over the life of the pilot
11 mentors dropped out
10 mentees dropped out
2 mentees got a job before
getting a buddy
Lack of confidence issues
Cultural mismatch
Too busy job with long hours
Mental health issues
Own business got busy
New job
Personality clash
Got a job
Busy with uni essays
Been offered another training opportunity
Too busy with childcare of 1yr old
Performance Targets
Services to be Provided 2012
Outputs/ Targets for Services
Outputs Completed
Identify and train young people from the Lawrence
Hill ward to act as ‘buddies’ for individuals from
their peer group who are currently not in
employment or training
15 ‘buddies’ identified and trained
31 buddies identified and trained
Identify suitable ‘mentees’ and facilitate
introductions to buddies
Support and monitor the pairs over a
period of 3 to 6 months
15 pairs working together for 6
15 young people moving into
employment or education
leading to employment
30 pairs worked together between 6
weeks to 6 months.
30 mentees moved into employment
or education leading to employment
Build links with local employers to encourage
them to provide work experience opportunities for
the participants
20 employers identified and ready to offer
25 identified 11 ready to offer
Engagement with employment support and
training providers to identify opportunities to
signpost young people towards
Links created that will facilitate continued
support for the young people after the end
of the project
Some mentor/mentee pairs have got
on well together and intend to
continue to see each other albeit less
intensively into the future. Some
mentors will remain connected to
Community Resolve by training or paid
work. Facebook page is designed to
allow all to remain connected to each
other and opportunities.
Support a group of young people to develop a
business plan for a local business opportunity
Business plan prepared and young people
advised on feasibility of moving forward
with proposal
Yes, and young people are moving
forward with the proposed initiative.
See appendix
Trial the use of new media to support young job
On-line resource tested with project
participants, and operational
Facebook page operational since 27
November 2012. ‘Likes’ receive all
Evaluation of the proposed approach
Final project report including
Evaluation and Recommendations
from Community Resolve
Presentations to successful mentors and mentees
At an awards ceremony held at Barton Hill Settlement in 2013, Community Resolves Marlene Stewart gives out an
award for being an inspirational role model to 26yr old mum-of-two Ruda, a certificate of mentee attendance to
Abdi and a certificate for being a brilliant mentor to Suzanne.
Below, delivery team and steering group members
L-R: Natasha Khan (Community Resolve), Louise (Job Centre Plus), Marlene Stewart (CR), April Retter (BCC) and Jade
Royal (CR)
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