The programme aims to help young people make positive choices and keep away from anti-social behaviour and crime.
Volunteers in Coventry who are helping to keep the city’s young people safe have urged others to become mentors too.
Faye Griffiths and Will Majemite are two of the first people to get involved in the new mentoring scheme as part of the Staying Safe programme.
The programme is run by Positive Youth Foundation (PYF) and aims to help young people make positive choices and keep away from anti-social behaviour and crime.
It is being delivered in partnership with Coventry City Council and Catch 22, and has been funded by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner through the ‘Early Intervention Youth Fund’
Will, 32, who lives in Bell Green, says he couldn’t just sit back and watch, so wanted to make a difference in the community.
He said: “I think it’s made a massive impact so far. I’ve been taking some of the lads out to the gym, going for food with them and giving them a bit of guidance really.
“The term ‘mentor’ can seem a bit heavy, like you need to have a wealth of experience and knowledge. It’s more like being a friend and being someone for them to speak to and listen too.
“It’s made it possible for me to walk away from things in my own life which trouble me and deal with my own problems too.
“PYF is aware of the problems but is more focused on the solution. We don’t label these kids with negative things we work on bringing out their best qualities.
“There’s no better feeling than giving back to your community.”
Potential mentors need to be aged over 18 and able to volunteer around one to three hours per week. They are required to undertake six hours of training, either for a full day or over two evening session.
Faye, 46, from Chapelfields, was worried she would be too old to connect with the young people and also wouldn’t have the time to take on a mentorship rule.
She said: “I did question if I would be too old and whether it would be something I had time to do, but it’s been great.
“I’ve been working a lot with the more vulnerable young people and it’s really rewarding.
“We’re reasonably lucky, I have a daughter who has a supportive background but we’re aware that not all young people do.
“I’m finding not only are they are getting lots out of it, I am too. I’m enjoying it and learning about myself and what I’m capable of. I would definitely encourage others to get involved.”
Krishan Singh, of the Positive Youth Foundation, added: “PYF have supported thousands of young people in Coventry over many years and due to the nature of our work we connect with young people who face a wide variety of challenges.
“Working closely with communities is key to our approach, which includes supporting volunteers to contribute within their communities.
“It’s vital that we get more people, from all over the city, involved to support Coventry’s young people and guide them to make positive lifestyle choices.”
Waheed Saleem, Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner said: “Offering mentoring support is vital in steering young people away from crime.
“I would strongly recommend to those who feel they would be a good role model and ambassador for the city and its young people to apply to become a mentor and play their part in helping others succeed.”
To find out more about how you can apply to be a Staying Safe Mentor or Ambassador visit www.positiveyouthfoundation.org.