SMASH Youth Project - Case Study
The Swindon mentoring and Self Help Youth Project works with vulnerable young people aged between 13 and 18. It strives to produce the very best outcomes for young people by providing top quality support services primarily but not exclusively; one-to-one mentoring tailored to individual needs and supported by an excellent infrastructure; working with young people to create a lasting impact; spurring them on within their families and communities.
The project recruits and trains community-based volunteers to become mentors, to work with young people to help them feel valued and develop into healthy happy young adults. Mentoring is a valuable tool to help young people make positive changes in their lives. Through individual mentoring partnerships SMASH works to improve the wellbeing, skills and employability of young people who are either excluded or on the verge of being excluded from normal teenage activities. Most will be working with (and target our resources toward) the most vulnerable. Their needs can be many and complex. With the support of a mentor they can be enabled to participate in new activities and interest groups, building confidence, becoming more active and healthy, experiencing success and self expression, learning to take more control over their own lives and progress toward personal independence.
What you hoped to achieve:
Our main aim is that Swindon's vulnerable and disadvantaged young people achieve their full potential. Through enabling these changes in our young people and joining generations together to find solutions to personal and social problems we hope to create a stronger and more coherent community in which everyone feels valued and involved and empowered to solve problems.
We will observe changes and track progress through regular feedback gathered from volunteer mentors and from the community.
Results so far:
T arrived at SMASH, disillusioned, lonely, and socially isolated and without anyone in her life to offer genuine, ongoing and reliable support. Our first visit did not bear out the description that we'd been given however and our project worker described her as pleasant and intelligent, if a little withdrawn. The project worker explained what SMASH did and T said she would like to join up and we agreed to take her on. Initially she was involved in some group work and although she found it difficult to mix she soon formed a friendship. She was matched with Sally, one of our more capable "no nonsense" mentors, returning for her third mentee.
The two made weekly visits to the park, McDonald’s, the local art gallery and the cinema. They worked on practical projects together and helped to design the newsletter, organize a trip to climb Snowdon and set up a small business project to run a stall at a SMASH fundraising event. T had a talent for art and became a central figure in many of the more creative activities at the project.
After several months T took matters into her own hands and left home. This was an enormous step for any 15 year old to take. Living with a friend and with Sally's support she negotiated a place in foster care and is now living independently.
T now has a circle of friends and is learning how to be a "normal teenager" for the first time. She is doing better at school and is involved with a group who are making a short film in the evenings. She is a regular at SMASH and is hoping to go to university one day to study art.
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