In this series of articles, we’ll be meeting the six current recipients of our Unlocking Potential fund to see what impact our grants have had. This is a fund MTC provides that is shared out across organisations that work with individuals and communities to transform lives on a frontline basis.
In this article we’re looking at Step Out Mentoring, an outdoor based mentoring organisation for children and young people.
Step Out is an early intervention mentoring organisation that provides support for children and young people in the heart of South London through outdoor based 1:1 mentoring and group workshops.
Founder and Director Phil White said “The young people we support have been struggling with mental health issues in the shadow of covid-19. These young people will have been struggling with complex issues exacerbated by the pandemic, and so a safe, fun and engaging mentoring space opens up opportunity to re-build resilience and confidence, as well as helping them to re-engage with their families, schools and wider communities. “
By working with the children and young people before they reach adolescence, Step Out Mentoring addresses issues before they are likely to escalate, helping the young people to learn to thrive.
Each young person involved with Step Out is paired with a trained mentor who they meet weekly in a public outdoors space. Mentors are volunteers from the local community who come from all walks of life. They meet up with their mentees to play football, cycle, go climbing, learn a new skill or just chat.
Funding from MTC was used to help finance each mentor’s training as well as cover costs of experiences and activities for the young people. Through the natural relationships created between mentor and mentee, confidence is carefully built to discuss challenging issues that the young people may be facing including lack of self-esteem, disengagement with education and loneliness.
Mentors are fully trained on creating safe, fun and engaging outdoor mentoring sessions, given resources to help and DBS checked.
Recently reaching their one year anniversary, Step Out have been inundated with referrals from organisations including schools, social services and GPs. They have also found that their service works well alongside more intensive support services such as therapists and councillors, often giving the young people a space to process what they are going through.
One young person was supported by Step Out when he was 15 and had issues with aggression and violence which were exacerbated when frustrated. Through a community youth club, he was referred to the program and matched with a mentor. They met to play table tennis, cycle, and box and over the months built a strong relationship in which he was able to learn to express himself and talk about some of the challenges he was facing. He now receives specific counselling and continues to meet up with his mentor, growing in his ability to understand his emotions and to reach out for support.
Step Out Mentoring creates a fun, safe space,” says Phil White, “where young people feel comfortable to express themselves and can begin to process the challenges they are going though.”