Chance UK – one-to-one mentoring for children with behavioural difficulties

About the project

Chance UK was set up in 1995 in Islington, London, to reduce youth crime and anti-social behaviour across the UK. They do this by providing one-to-one mentoring for children aged 5-11 with behavioural difficulties. Their volunteer mentors raise children’s self esteem via activities such as sports, visiting museums, making scrapbooks… anything that will engage the child and broaden their horizons. They now have projects in London, and all four nations of the UK.

Solution focused one-to-one mentoring takes place with a carefully screened, trained and supervised mentor, who focuses on the child’s strengths and what they do well, rather than their negative behaviour. Once matched, the children meet each week with an adult volunteer mentor for between two and four hours. It is a one year transforming, goal orientated relationship specifically designed to avoid dependency and to bring about a positive ending. Many of the children they work with are on the verge of being permanently excluded from school. This is frequently the starting point for anti-social and later criminal behaviour in a young person’s life, so early intervention is used to prevent this. Chance UK also works closely with local schools to improve life for the child, their family and their classmates.

Chance UK works in partnership with local organisations across the UK to help establish their highly successful mentoring programme in their area. The mentoring programme is currently being delivered to children and their families in the London Boroughs of Islington, Lambeth and Hackney, as well as in Liverpool, Knowsley, Abergavenny, Derry, Withernsea and Inverness. Their highly successful model of partnership delivery has been established with organisations like national children’s charity Action for Children, and community-based projects such as Women’s Aid Monmouthshire. The local organisations access induction, training and ongoing support from Chance UK as they establish the programme in their local community.

Some of Chance UK’s mentoring programmes are Approved Provider Standard (APS) accredited and it is funded from a variety of sources; local and central government, trusts, charities and various others.

To sum up in Chance UK’s own words: ‘No other organisation does the work that we do in the way that we do it with the age group we do it with.’

Chance’s website:

Project aims

  • To reduce youth crime and anti-social behaviour across the UK  
  • To provide one-to-one mentoring for children aged 5-11 with behavioural difficulties

Project outcomes

The solution focused way the mentors work helps children manage their behaviour in situations that would previously have ended in conflict. Referrers and parents report improvements in children’s self control and in relationships with other children and adults.

Exclusion from school is less likely for all 100 children accessing the mentoring each year, with many moving from the Pupil Referral Unit back to mainstream education.

In 2008, the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths University completed an independent evaluation of Chance UK’s London work. They found that:

  • 98% of children showed reductions in levels of behavioural difficulty
  • 51% showed no behavioural difficulty at all by the end of the mentoring year

The research followed the progress of 100 children who had had mentors over the past five years, and evaluated the short term and long term impact of having a Chance UK mentor. The findings were extremely positive, showing a decrease in hyperactivity-inattention, emotional symptoms, conduct problems and peer problems for all children, with an increase in pro-social behaviour. Children also retained many of their improvements three to five years after the mentoring ended.

Impact on mentees

  • Over 750 mentees have accessed the service since the charity started in 1995
  • 93% of children who had a Chance UK mentor were still not in trouble with the police three to five years after the mentoring ended
  • 96% of parents reported that the mentoring had improved their relationship with their children

Impact on mentors

  • Many of the mentors have found the experience of mentoring beneficial in terms of their own skills development

Personal impact statements

Mentee’s view:

She (mentor) makes things better; shows me the way to find the answer. She helps me to get on with my work and finish it; not to be rude to teachers; not to shout out. I have learned to deal with disappointments. I have so much respect for my mentor and she has for me. I treat her as family and we have had a fantastic time.

I was fighting a lot at school – but now I’ve stopped it.

Mentor’s view (Nick):

My relationship with my mentee really amazed me, because it was so important to me. I really, really wanted him to do well.

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