The Neon Schools Mentoring Programme is a local initiative that has developed out of Hope City Foundation. As an organisation, we have been successfully delivering community projects across Sheffield and further afield for almost 20 years. We are fuelled by a passion for sustainable social change and a desire to see each person regardless of background achieve their potential and gain access to opportunity (see below for more information on who we are).
Our heart as an organisation is to create brighter futures for the teenagers in our city. Through the Neon Schools Mentoring Programme our aim is to work with the most disadvantaged and vulnerable young people (aged 11-18) from the most deprived areas of Sheffield. Through our team of trained, volunteer mentors and youth workers we will be partnering with the locals schools to work alongside these young people to help them make positive life choices, successfully navigate the challenges that come their way, to remove the barriers that prevent them from being the very best version of themselves and to help them discover how truly valuable and significant they really are.
In this first year of delivery we will directly impact over 50 young people's lives through weekly 1-to-1 mentoring and group sessions.
So many young people in our city are struggling in school and at risk of exclusion, dealing with mental health challenges, bullying, behavioural issues and experiencing difficulty at home. Many of these barriers present themselves as too difficult for young people to overcome on their own and the help and support of a mentor is needed to empower and equip them to overcome these barriers and make positive life choices based on a sound understanding of themselves and what they can bring to the world around them.
Each week within the first year we will provide mentors to an initial minimum of three schools in disadvantaged areas. Our mentors will be trained in Trauma Informed care approaches, and the skills needed to help journey these young people through their different life experiences. They will work in the school and alongside teaching and pastoral staff to ensure that support is targeted well for the best outcomes. Each young person will have up to 20 weeks of support from a mentor (cases will be reviewed on an individual basis to assess the need for further support and follow up).
In addition to the weekly mentoring and several group sessions, young people will also get opportunities to become involved in practical activities which:
- Help them to gain confidence in an out-of-school environment or setting
- Help them to see how their unique talent and energy can be used to help others in their community
- Help them to be recognised by others (including their families) for their achievements both as part of the mentoring programme and in a wider community context
- Grow their confidence, self-esteem and leadership ability and skills
- Help them to raise their aspirations.
Often we talk about young people being trapped in 'cyclical poverty' or having insufficient 'resilience' to break out of cultural patterns of behaviour which inhibit their potential and development. These young people tend to perform at lower levels in school and find themselves drawn into anti-social behaviour. They very often end up being excluded from school; something that significantly increases the chances of them being involved in gangs and criminal activity and ultimately being part of the criminal justice system.
Evidence of successful mentoring schemes shows the impact that mentorship can and does have on reducing these and other risk factors in the lives of young people. Through the project we aim to improve confidence, communication, mental health, resilience and self-esteem and in doing so improve their aspiration, school attendance and attainment within school. We also seek to improve the role of influential adults in their lives such as parents or guardians.
In social terms this will greatly impact the lives of our young people. In financial terms this programme is a worthy investment, as all too often the cost of neglect is great to the public pursue. This is a cost which isn't limited to their younger years but often follows through the whole of the life of that person.
We appreciate your help and support in supporting our efforts to make a difference through providing our young people with the tools and opportunities that enable them to discover all that they can be.
Emerging data suggests that the impact of COVID-19 in disadvantaged communities will be greatly felt. The National Youth Agency's report entitled 'Out of Sight - Vulnerable Young People - COVID-19 Response' states that 'there at 1,000,000 young people with known needs that have been amplified by the Pandemic and an estimated 2,000,000 young people with emerging needs triggered or caused by COVID-19.' Our project will provide a vital safety net through which many young people will get the opportunity to work through the challenges resulting from these unprecedented times.
(Due to social distancing measures, we are also developing a blended approach to learning so that it will be both in-person and online.)
We believe that through this programme we can help change the trajectory of our young people's lives.
We believe that when the young people thrive, so does the city.
We run a number of programmes from a large community hub called The Megacentre, located on the edge of the city centre near to Manor Castle and Darnall Wards of the city. These are two of the most deprived areas of the city and indeed the country. Over 200,000 people visit the Megacentre every year to take part in activities that are designed to enrich people's lives and help them in difficult circumstances.
Our Team comprises a cross-section of ages and backgrounds, including staff and over 50 volunteers, together with a professional management team and diverse board of trustees. Each of us is fully behind our mission and vision for people.
For more information about Hope City Foundation across all of our live projects visit us online at www.hopecity.foundation.