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Effective Interventions Unit - Working with young people: A profile of projects funded by the Partnership Drugs Initiative


Working with young people: A profile of projects funded by the Partnership Drugs Initiative

Highland Mentoring Scheme
  • Project aims and objectives

This project, managed by NCH, is one of five youth projects run under the banner 'Gael Og' (Highland Youth). The project aims to offer support to young people aged 12-17 who are at risk of or have developed a substance misuse problem. Support and advice is offered on a range of issues not just substance misuse.

  • Project start date

Work on the project began in early 2002 though work with clients did not begin until October 2002.

  • Staffing

Mentors, of whom there were 28 in mid-2003, come from a wide range of backgrounds though all are required to be over the age of 25. The mentors are part-time volunteers although they are paid for their time. They have undergone an extensive process of selection and three days' residential training, while they receive subsequent face to face support on a monthly basis with additional occasional training sessions. They are supported and managed by a project manager while administrative support is provided by two people who service all five 'Gael Og' projects.

  • Geographical coverage

The project is based in Inverness but aims to cover all of Highland Region.

  • Setting for project work

Since the project works in highly rural areas, meetings take place in mutually agreed locations such as cafés or activity centres.

  • Characteristics of client group

Young people with substance misuse problems or those at risk of developing these problems due to peer or family drug use.

  • Client profile

As of 31 July 2003 there had been 38 young people referred to the programme since work with clients began in October 2002. The age profile of the clients is illustrated in Figure 21.

Figure 21


The gender profile of the clients is as follows:-





All clients have been from a white background and none were disabled.

  • Intervention details

Mentors meet clients for two hours a week for up to six months. Meetings take place at a mutually agreed location such as a café, an activity centre or a schoolroom. Initially a programme of individual goals for the client is negotiated between the mentor and the mentee. These goals can range widely across a person's life, such as what happens in school or at home, and are not confined to substance use. This programme, known as an 'action planning process', is then used to help establish short-term goals for each week. At each weekly session, progress over the past week is assessed, encouragement and support offered, and next week's goals negotiated, though the manner in which this is achieved varies from mentor to mentor.

  • Referrals

Due to the nature of the support provided, those referred to the service are commonly young people who have already completed more intensive social work supervision. The pattern of referrals is illustrated in Figure 22 below:-

Figure 22