Making a Difference Through Mentoring

Mentors & Mentee's working together to decorate the Reflection Room

Mentors & Mentees working together to decorate the Reflection Room

Blackburn Youth Zone aims to reach and inspire all Children and Young people of BwD giving them somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to.

As an organisation we recognise that many young people across Blackburn with Darwen face barriers to attending our universal provision.
Blackburn Youth Zone’s Mentoring Scheme relaunched in August 2016 with the aim of providing young people tailored one to one support from a volunteer mentor, to help them overcome barriers they are facing, ensuring they have the same opportunities as their peers by supporting them to engage in positive activities and encouraging them to achieve their aspirations.


We aimed to recruit 25 dedicated volunteers from a variety of backgrounds, offering them bespoke mentor training so they were equipped to mentor hard to reach young people. We aimed to identify 25 young people who were at risk of factors known to perpetuate social isolation, such as:

  • poor mental or emotional health,
  • poor physical health,
  • not engaging in education or training,
  • engaging in Anti-Social behaviour or crime,
  • experiencing poor family relationships.

Communication and Coordination

In order to identify young people who would most benefit from the scheme, we made links with agencies across BwD who work with families and young people facing difficulties.

To promote the opportunity to potential mentors, we made links with colleges and universities and attended community events. We also promoted the opportunity throughout our patron network.

Recognising that mentoring alone can not remove all barriers for young people, we established strong links with the family and any agencies involved with the young person, regularly communicating and advocating the needs and wishes of the young person to ensure all involved were working together to meet their needs.

The new and improved Reflection Room

The new and improved Reflection Room

Creating Our Reflection Room

We consulted with the young people on the mentoring scheme who told us that attending universal club can sometimes be daunting to begin with. They needed a safe, secure environment for their one to one mentor sessions. We asked mentees and mentors to come up with idea’s for a ‘Reflection Room’. Our patron network came together in support of the Reflection Room, Senator International kindly donated furniture for the room whilst Crown Paints provided paint free of charge. With furniture and paint donated, young people got stuck into renovating their new mentoring room and enjoyed decorating the room.

Artwork created by Mentors & Mentees

Artwork created by Mentors & Mentees

Success & Impact

The Mentoring scheme has been a real success to date, with the initial aim of receiving 25 referrals for young people, we are currently oversubscribed with 67 referrals received to date. We have matched a total of 29 young people with a dedicated and trained mentor. Due to the high demand of the project, we have had to generate a waiting list of young people.

The Mentoring Scheme has since been selected as a finalist for ‘Community Team of the Year 2017 award’ at UCLan’s Volunteering and Community Leadership Awards in May 2017. The ceremony aims to recognise the outstanding significance of the contributions individual volunteers or community Teams have made and aims to honour their achievements.

To measure the impact mentoring has had, we asked the young people to rate different area’s of their life at the beginning of their mentoring relationship. The young people who are now mid way through their mentoring relationship have recently reviewed their scores; 100% feel their confidence is good or improving, 86% feel their aspirations and achievements are good or improving, 86% feel how they deal with their emotions is good or improving, 100% feel their emotional and physical health is good or improving, 100% feel their social skills and close relationships are good or improving.


Feedback from Young people

It feels like I’ve got someone by my side to help and support me, my mentor has helped me with the bullying at school. I know I’m not a bad person anymore, she’s shown me who I am”. Young Person aged 10

“My mentor is ‘sound’, he’s a lot of fun. I feel more confident now and I’ve found something I enjoy – going to the gym. I’m less lazy now!”. Young Person aged 15

“I feel like I’ve got someone to talk to. I like my mentor because she likes the same things as me. Since having my mentor to talk to, I don’t argue with my Mum and Dad as much”.  Young Person aged 15

“My mentor helps me and I have fun, I like her because she is kind and she is a good mentor for me. I feel like I can talk to her about things and I trust her. Since having a mentor I have more fun and I calm down a lot quicker”. Young Person aged 9

“My mentor is funny, friendly and supportive. I don’t feel lonely anymore. I know how to make friends with people now, I have made lots of new friends!” Young person aged 10

“I like my mentor because she is fun, she is interested in the same things as me. She is actually a lot like me – Fun and Weird”  Young person aged 10

Feedback from a Professional

“I was working a 15-year-old girl who was on the verge of being excluded from school, she was rarely going to school and her behaviour was escalating. I had tried to support her by involving various different agencies, although she refused to engage with any of them. I decided to try Blackburn Youth Zone’s Mentoring scheme.

She formed a great bond with Rose when she started on the programme and has attended regularly ever since. The Mentoring scheme has had a real positive impact on how she deals with situations, and she now has great attendance at school. Mentoring has given her the tools she needed to deal positively with difficult situations, both at school and home. More families and young people are in need of this service!” –  Emma Painter, Family Intervention Key Worker, BwD Council

Feedback from a Mentor

“The Mentoring Programme is brilliant, not only for the young person but also for the Mentor as well. The impact it has had on me has been really positive. Seeing my Mentee gain self-confidence and develop has given me a belief in my own abilities to support young people. Before I became a Mentor I was very low in confidence and had been out of work for a long time. I’ve gained confidence and skills through mentoring and I’ve since decided to take a career path in supporting young people. I am now studying Youth Work at college and the experience has to lead to me securing a full-time youth work role! Seeing my Mentee gain confidence and develop has made the experience really worthwhile for me, and I would recommend mentoring to anyone!” – JJ Appleby, BYZ Mentor

Feedback from a Parent

“My son has suffered from depression and anxiety for a long time, he struggled to go out alone and couldn’t even go into a shop and ask for what he wanted. Since having a mentor his confidence has gone through the roof. It has given him a purpose and something to look forward to. His mentor has been great, he gets on really well with him. Although he still suffers from depression and anxiety, his happiness has definitely improved. He has recently been going to the shop on his own, which is a huge step for my son.” – Parent of young person aged 15