Broader lessons on mentoring services for people who offend
The extent to which findings are generalisable to other settings will, of course, depend on a number of factors including the approach used and the target group.
Development of a close one-to-one relationship is the most important factor. The qualities, skills and behaviours listed under ‘Findings on Mentoring Activities’ above were key – and should be emphasised in other mentoring services for people who offend.
Detailed matching may not be necessary for effective delivery. Few PSPs undertook detailed matching of mentee to mentor but this did not appear to be necessary and almost all mentees felt that they were well matched.
Mentoring with people who offend will often require a level of practical support that would not be expected in mentoring with some other groups. The provision of this support helps address immediate priorities (such as housing and money) which is often essential if the mentee is to move on to tackle medium or longer term goals; it helps develop the mentee’s trust in the mentor; and it provides the mentor with an opportunity to model appropriate behaviour and ways of dealing effectively with other services.
Areas most likely to show improvement. In the relatively short time-span of the RRCF mentoring relationship (generally up to five or six months at most), areas that showed most improvement are those linked with attitudes and motivations and those which are more in the direct control of the mentee. Areas that showed less improvement are more connected with external factors, such as family, accommodation, work or education, and substance use – and require the input of external agencies. This indicates that a longer period of mentoring may be needed to secure and sustain engagement with these other agencies.
Availability of other services. Mentoring can play a key role in linking mentees with other services and encouraging engagement with them. However, this is necessarily limited by the availability and the effectiveness of other services.
Length of engagement. The evaluation has suggested that many mentees would benefit from a longer period of engagement than six months. Future evaluations should therefore weigh the potential benefits of a longer period of engagement for fewer individuals versus a shorter period of engagement for more individuals.
Mentors require clear guidance and training on how to prepare mentees for exit.
Email: Justice Analytical Services
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