We are WAM Youth, a charity in North Gloucestershire working with children and young people in and around our local area in lots of different ways! Our core value is that "We All Matter" and through our mentoring project we provide trusted relationships to young people in need.
We know how difficult life can be for young people today. School referrals for mental health services have risen by a third in three years from 2014-2017(NSPCC, May 2018), one third of the 183 referrals per day were declined Specialist Mental Health Services and in 2018/19 Childline were unable to respond to 1 in 3 of the total calls they received. Young people also feel increasingly "desperately lonely" and that those around them don't understand them (Childline Annual Report 2019).
Young people are referred to WAM for all sorts of reasons and often need support in multiple areas. They are referred by their school, social care, early help, counsellor or themselves or their parent. Our video explains some of the reasons why, including bereavement, social isolation, behavioural challenges, emotional or mental ill health.
The strength of WAM's approach is that we recognise and value the impact that individuals within communities can have on their local young people. We support volunteers to build trusted relationships that place value and worth on young people as individuals but also as part of a community. Our careful matching of mentor with mentee means that each young person has tailored support for as long as they need.
Like Casey who was referred to WAM when she was 15 when mental health services were withdrawing their support. Casey’s mentor supported her through the end of Year 11 and into her apprenticeship, among other things helping her to build her confidence to travel on public transport (a long-standing fear) and get a job as a Health Care Assistant. Casey always wanted to volunteer abroad but didn’t think she would have the confidence to do that but with her mentor’s help she felt able to pursue this and spent a month abroad volunteering in Disaster Relief Work.
Or Sam who went from being almost nocturnal, not attending school and only leaving his house for his medical appointments to regularly going to different places with his mentor, re-engaging with his family and preparing to start college. Sam says his mentor “transformed me from an unsocial person to a really open and sociable person…helped me with my goal setting and so many other things and has made my life so much easier and happier." Others have "noticed a really big change in my personality and think I'm a lot more open”
What do we need funding for: To extend our project to help more young people
We have now had a waiting list for over 2 years and we want to raise funds so that we can take on another staff member to extend the project into the new communities we are receiving referrals from. Each £5000 we raise will help us to support another 5 young people for a year. We are looking to raise £15000 in total from this campaign and other sources to enable us to employ a new staff member to manage this extra case load.
How many volunteers do you have? Approximately 14 volunteers that give 1 hour a week for 1 year
We have 1 staff member directly on this project to co-ordinate, train and support the 14 volunteer mentors. We recruit and train 3-8 new mentors each year as some mentors will only work with 1 young person whilst others will take on a second when their first relationship ends. We always undertake initial assessment and preparation with a young person for mentoring before matching carefully with a volunteer so having a pool of mentors to choose from is important. The project manager or WAM's safeguarding lead attend relevant external meetings as required to ensure joined up support with other agencies. This funding will allow us to recruit and support more mentors from the new communities we are now working in.
How do you fund the current project? Through grants, sponsorship and donations
We have a wide range of funders for the current project that include local individuals or companies who want to sponsor someone's mentoring, local grant-making trusts, and we also hold our own fundraising events to support our core costs. The financial independence from the referring agency allows us to ensure our service is child and young person led and not driven by targets or budgets from other agencies.
Why do you need to crowdfund? To kick start the project expansion
In order to have enough extra funding to employ an extra staff member we need to have the security of a designated amount of money that will pay for their time whilst they grow the project to take on new mentors and mentees. We are crowdfunding alongside approaching other local organisations like our local Rotary Clubs so that we can raise the full £15000.
How will this expansion be sustained? By accessing funding sources in new areas
When the project is established in the new communities we are receiving referrals from we will be better placed to seek financial support from sources in those communities to provide ongoing finance. We are also seeking core funding for our organisational costs from a large national grant making organisation alongside this campaign.
Will it work? Yes!
We know our mentoring works, 100% of young people who complete the programme recommend it to others, they say it provides them with a listening ear that helps them to make positive changes in their lives. Relationships change lives and through the provision of mentors WAM Youth is changing lives. The Head of Inclusion at a local school said this “Our School has worked with WAM for over three years now and at all times have found their service highly skilled, professional and completely dedicated to the betterment of each individual student referred to them. Their in school mentoring service is excellent and our students have benefited from the bespoke mentors WAM can offer. The fact that the mentors come from a variety of professions and backgrounds means that they can fit the right adult to the right student, we have seen excellent results for the students who have had this mentoring over a sustained period of time.”
Please help us to help more young people by supporting our project expansion. Your donation is vital to our work.