The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has helped launch a pioneering partnership which will see uniformed and support staff act as role models to care-experienced and disadvantaged young people across Scotland.
By joining forces with school-based mentoring charity MCR Pathways, the SFRS has become the first emergency service organisation to sign up to the programme.
A number of firefighters and members of SFRS support staff have already joined the scheme, which sees volunteers use their experience to help a young person realise their full potential; empowering them with confidence and self-belief.
MCR Pathways helps over 2000 young people every week achieve the same educational outcomes, career opportunities and life chances as their peers.
MCR Pathways currently operates in Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Clackmannanshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow, North Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire and currently supports 2000 young people each week. The organisation’s vision is for further expansion across Scotland in the near future.
Liz Barnes is the Director of People and Organisational Development for the SFRS.
She said: “As a committed corporate parenting organisation we are proud to support MCR Pathways.
“We encourage our staff to become a mentor with MCR Pathways and be part of the vision to create equality of outcomes for education employment, life chances and opportunities for Scotland’s young people.”
Sandy Gillespie is a Group Commander with the SFRS and has been mentoring for two years.
Explaining the inspiration behind his decision to get involved with the charity, Sandy said: “These are young people who require assistance and a direction in life and I think a fire officer with their variety of skills and what they’ve seen could have a dramatic effect on these young people's lives.”
MCR Pathways was established in 2007, and has the backing of the Scottish Government and the local authorities in which it operates.
The charity’s 2018 annual impact report revealed that the number of care-experienced young people enrolled in the programme leaving school and progressing to university, college or a job is 86% compared to 54% nationally.
Iain MacRitchie is the founder of MCR Pathways.
He said: “We are delighted that Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has committed to supporting their staff in becoming mentors.
“With their help we are a step closer to achieving our vision that every young person in Scotland gets the same education outcomes, career opportunities and life chances, despite the challenges that some young people face.
“Our programme is well established and has proven to be a positive, and transformational experience for both young people and their mentors, and we look forward to welcoming new mentors from Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
“At its core, MCR Pathways is based on a simple premise - mentors sign up to devote 50 minutes a week to listen, build a trusting relationship and help a young person to find their talent and realise their potential. Our programme is making a huge difference to so many young people throughout Scotland whose future will be determined by their talent and not by their circumstances.”
Anyone interested in mentoring a young person will be asked to commit time and dedication normally for a period of two years.
All volunteer mentors will be trained locally before being matched with a young person who they meet for a weekly 50-minute mentoring session.
Anyone interested in becoming a mentor can get more information www.mcrpathways.org or contact the Mentor Services Team on 0141 221 0200.