Ecologia Youth Trust have won a major National Lottery award from The National Lottery Community Fund for its innovative Growing2gether mentoring programme. The 3-year grant, worth £135,000, will empower 664 young people in the Highlands to build resilience, recognise their potential and take control of their lives.
The Growing2gether mentoring programme is attended by pupils, aged 13-15, who are experiencing challenging circumstances, and make an informed choice to participate. The 18-week programme includes mentoring nursery children and attending peer group sessions with facilitated activities, e.g, self-esteem, self-management and anti-social behaviour. The programme leads to a University of
Highland and Islands accredited SCQF Level 3/4 Qualification – Personal Development: (‘Self in the Community’/Self Awareness’). This gives the young people an experience of success and re-engages them in school and in their community.
Diana Whitmore, Director Scotland, who developed the Growing2gether programme, said:
This generous grant will make a huge difference to the young people we support and also their communities. Working in a group with their peers helps disengaged young people learn how to function in society and practice new relational skills/behaviours with the children they are mentoring, nursery staff, and each other, coached by skilled facilitators who help them recognise their strengths.”
The National Lottery Community Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn, said:
I am delighted that Ecologia Youth Trust has been successful in securing a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund. The award will make a big difference where it is needed most and I wish the Ecologia Youth Trust every success as it goes on to develop and expand Growing2gether for the benefit of their local community.”
The young people the programme empowers are at risk of social exclusion and are disengaged. They can have low levels of social and emotional development and are at high risk of poor mental health, negative behaviour and leaving education early with no qualifications. All of these issues impact the young people and the community.
Growing2gether was developed in partnership with young people, Highland Council, schools and parents, who highlighted an urgent need for an early intervention using small group dynamics and positive psychology to help young people to find their own solutions.
I could have gone down a really bad road at one time…. but (doing Growing2gether and) knowing what I want to do has made all the difference.”
Growing2gether particant – Jan, 14 years.
As part of delivery, the charity trains local people to run the programme in the future, providing a lasting legacy for the community and helping reach more young people.
Growing2gether provides an incredibly valuable learning opportunity in our school. We have witnessed pupils at risk of disengaging, develop a real sense of value and worth as a result of the programme. The quality of the provision and the evaluative approach taken by Growing2gether is excellent.”
Karen Cormack – Head Teacher, Dingwall Academy.