Scheme to apply for Government funding (Online Report)

 by Craig Watson

 A SCHEME operating in Fife is to apply for funding following the end of its pilot project grant. PlusOne, a YMCA youth mentoring service operating in the Kirkcaldy and Levenmouth area of Fife, aims to provide support for vulnerable young people by offering one-to-one guidance from an experienced adult mentor. The project began just over two years ago, and has since provided intervention to numerous young people.

The project – which has won various awards – is primarily aimed at debuting young offenders, children who are at risk of offending, children with social or domestic difficulties and those whom are at risk of being referred to the Children’s Hearing System.

PlusOne was initially supported by several organisations including YMCA Scotland, The Scottish Government, ADSW- Association of Directors of Social Work and the Violence Reduction Unit. Following the completion of its pilot funding, the project is being 100 percent funded by YMCA Scotland on a temporary basis, until April 2012, where after the programme will be forced to close if new funding isn’t secured.

The Fife Scheme is the first of three PlusOne projects running in key demographic areas in Scotland and the latest goal of the programme managers and YMCA Scotland is to convince Westminster  to launch PlusOne projects on a national scale in the UK’s most deprived and poverty-stricken areas following its success in Kirkcaldy & Levenmouth, Bellshill and Perth.

Commenting of the scheme Linda Pearse, Programme Manager said: – ‘‘We have seen many of the young people on the programme flourish over the past years and some of them who are no longer supported by the project are now volunteering in their local community and at youth clubs’’

‘‘Mentors work one to one with their young person once a week for an hour or two doing various fun, relationship building activities and offering a stable support for them.’’

‘‘The purpose of PlusOne is to eventually divert young people into community based activities in their area, to increase confidence and self-esteem.’’

An independent review carried out in May 2011 by the University of Dundee found that the scheme generated a social value of £1.05M for an investment of £108,000, with twenty-five percent of that value attributed to the criminal justice system.

According to independent figures, the social value of PlusOne on average is valued at £10 per £1 investment.

Winning Youth Justice Project of the Year 2011, it is the aim of the Programme Managers to highlight to the government how social projects akin to PlusOne can complement existing crime reduction methods. According to an official evaluation of the scheme 86% of young people being mentored had a significantly improved behaviour and changed attitudes towards offending.

In a bid to gather a sample of public opinion, the results of a poll on a popular social networking site found that the majority of people are in favour of PlusOne’s new mentoring approach to tackle crime in Scotland.

Compatibility of goals

The Programme Managers hope to be given the opportunity to showcase how mentoring of young people can be a new way of tackling Scotland’s crime problem. In the 2010-2011 time period over 825,000 crimes or criminal offences were committed in Scotland. Although Scotland is now at its lowest crime figures in 35 years, PlusOne hopes to demonstrate how the project can help reduce crime figures further by helping young offenders avert a life of re-offending and crime and become actively contributing members of society.

In the published evaluation and review of PlusOne called: ‘Mentoring Works’ independent figures show that:

          28 young people who received mentoring from PlusOne had not re-offended since being mentored

          81 fewer offences were made in Scotland due to mentoring

          9 young people had discontinued substance abuse

          8 ‘flagged’ young people avoided entering the adult criminal justice system

          6 young people reduced their level of school exclusions

A new alternative

An evaluation of the PlusOne project hailed it as an innovative way of approaching crime reduction in Scotland. The scheme was seen as an effective form of rehabilitation and crime reduction without involving the police or other statutory organisations. According to the review participants enjoyed the ‘human’ approach from the YMCA project which gave young people the control and was less restrictive and more understanding than other law enforcement agencies in Scotland.

‘‘Some talked about how the fact that the YMCA is running PlusOne, not a statutory agency, makes a difference. The YMCA does not carry the same stigma as the statutory agencies, and some families and young people are only likely to engage with PlusOne as opposed to another programme.’’

          Mentoring Works! (Evaluation)

 Future for the Scheme

 The scheme’s long term goal is to expand its operations into the worst-affected areas in Scotland, and eventually the UK, which suffer from poverty and high youth crime figures. The immediate goal however remains to convince Holyrood and Westminster that the scheme is cost-effective, efficient and worth-while.

 

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