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Mentor Scotland

01 June 2017

Mentor Scotland works to protect children and young people from the risks of alcohol and drugs. By supporting young people, parents, carers and youth groups, they hope to improve children's knowledge, life skills and self-confidence to make wise decisions.

In 2014, Mentor Scotland, received £22,342 from the Scotch Whisky Action Fund. This funding helped cover the costs of a part-time project officer, to run six training programmes in HMP Polmont. The programme was designed to address alcohol misuse and offending behaviour among young offenders.

With experience of running programmes in adult prisons, the team were well placed to offer the sessions to offenders under the age of 18 in HMP Polmont.

The sessions were adapted taking into account issues such as poor communication skills, behavioural problems and short attention spans.

The twelve week programme took a more flexible approach. Inmates didn't have to register in advance allowing them to drop in when they could. In designing the course it was key that each session could be stand-alone. Breaking down the course content into bite size chunks of information and including fun activities to keep participants engaged and interested.

An experienced peer educator who had been involved with the service since he had been a resident, helped develop and adapt the programme. His personal experience provided a valuable insight into how the programme could make a difference and offered someone that the young inmates could relate to.

On completion, the young people were awarded accreditations for Dynamic Youth and Youth Achievement awards. Five young people have since qualified as peer educators.

The service is now increasing young people’s access to alcohol education.

One young person, who qualified as a peer educator now has the confidence to challenge his peers’ attitudes, and question his own relationship with alcohol.

Mentor have gone onto secure funding to continue the main project. And have developed a community support project, and a toolkit which they hope to roll out to youth groups across Scotland.

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