Centrepoint – mentoring with young homeless people
About the project
Centrepoint has been providing housing and support to young homeless people since 1969 and is the leading provider of these services in the UK, with a strong presence in London and the North East.
Centrepoint supports around 2000 young people per year and provides a safe place to sleep for over 500 young people every night. Over the last 43 years they have helped over 75,000 homeless young people realise their potential.
The Centrepoint Mentoring Programme was established in February 2010 with the aim of supporting homeless young people, aged 16-25, with their goals in terms of work, learning, engagement, health and move-on. Young people are carefully matched with a mentor who supports them for one year. At April 2012, 119 volunteer mentors had been recruited and trained on the programme and 970 mentoring hours delivered to young people.
Centrepoint works with homeless young people aged 16-25. Of these young people 20% are care leavers, 20% have slept rough, a third have a mental health need, 40% have no qualifications when they arrive at Centrepoint and around 17% have difficulties with numeracy and literacy. Centrepoint also works with young parents, young offenders and ex- offenders and young refugees and asylum seekers.
Impact on mentees:
Since February 2010, 128 young people have benefited from having a mentor on the programme. Of these 128:
- 40 have entered or sustained voluntary or paid work
- 44 have entered or sustained education or training
- 21 have moved into independent accommodation
- 100% young people say they had greater level of self confidence
- 83% of young people say they feel more motivated
- 83% of mentees say their independent living skills have improved.
Personal impact statements
Mentee’s view – Mariama
My name is Mariama, I am 20 years old and I had a mentor for one year. I had a mentor at the right time because I had moved out of Centrepoint and was living on my own for the first time.
My mentor and I would meet every two weeks. Some of the things we did included cooking together, going ice skating at Somerset House and going to the cinema.
The reason I wanted a mentor was because I wanted some help with building my confidence and motivation, support with going to college and finding a job. I have only been in the country for two years so I also wanted a mentor to show me around London so I could feel more comfortable getting around.
With the help of a mentor, I have achieved everything I wanted. My mentor helped me with my college application and I got a place! I am now studying Level 2 Business Administration. Along with this, my confidence has improved and so has my time keeping.
The best thing about mentoring is having someone to socialise with and help with things you find difficult. My mentor was a nice person with a good character, always happy, welcoming and smiling.
A mentor should be a role model, someone who you admire and inspires you. My next plans are to concentrate on college. I would like to move on to an Access to HE course so that I can one day go to university. I would recommend having a mentor to another young person because they help to build confidence.
Mentor’s view – Jenny
My name is Jenny and I was a mentor to a Centrepoint young person for 12 months. We would meet once or twice each month to work on a number of objectives including budgeting, distributing CVs to employers and cooking skills. My mentee grew in confidence over the course of the year and became more aware of her priorities; both financially and in general.
Even though my mentee did not find employment during the time I was mentoring, she took positive steps and was able to use online channels and approach employers directly for job enquiries. As well as meeting at internet cafes to work towards tangible objectives, we also tried activities like ice-skating and a boat trip on the Thames.
As she progressed on her Business Administration course, it was useful for her to have someone to talk to about organising aspects of her life to ensure she kept on track for her long-term goal of going on to University.
When the mentoring relationship was coming to an end it was difficult as we had built a good connection, but we were also aware that things had to move on. I am confident that my mentee has the ability to help herself going forward; a trait that developed over the course of the year.
Mentoring has definitely improved my communication skills when working with young people, and I learnt not to assume that my mentee would immediately understand some things that may seem obvious to me. In retrospect, I feel that as a mentor reliability is the most crucial element - it is key in building trust in the relationship.
To be involved in the life of a young person and building a professional yet close relationship is a humbling but pleasurable experience, and one which you would not get by sitting at home in front of the TV. I felt appreciated by my young person and valued by Centrepoint as a volunteer.