I haven’t been to school for ages… I get anxious and panic. Since joining this group, I‘ve made new friends and started going to some lessons. The children make me happy. – Rosa, 14
Inner-city poverty makes the headlines, while rural poverty tends to go unnoticed. In the Scottish Highlands, 6% of young people live in severe poverty; 10.5% do not succeed at school or find work. Highland Council also reports the largest attainment gap between Primary 1 pupils in the most and least deprived areas. Those who start behind rarely catch up.
Growing2gether, our newest initiative, recognised the need for greater support. Working with nine secondary schools, serving communities that are among Highland’s most deprived 15%, this early intervention programme strengthens emotional wellbeing and empowers youngsters to re-engage positively with education and their communities.
Targeting 14-16 year-olds who are struggling at school and are at risk of not being able to access further education, employment, or vocational training when they leave school, Growing2gether enables them to build self-belief and positive aspirations through mentoring young children in need of additional support. The team wholeheartedly supports Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018, as Diana Whitmore, Growing2gether’s director, explains:
This celebratory year highlights the immense and precious potential of our youth. It is congruent with our own transformative mission to raise young people’s expectations and find fulfilment in their lives.
Cara (15), who had to transfer schools after her mother fled an abusive relationship, movingly described the programme’s impact:
I finally feel like I’m ok as a person; I always thought everyone else was better than me but being here helped me to try different things.
The Year of Young People 2018 calls on us all to create opportunities for youngsters like Cara and Rosa to realise their potential. Growing2gether is excited to be playing a part!