Kirsty’s Visit to Castlemilk
I was delighted to visit Castlemilk High School – an old rival school to mine growing up – in the Southside of Glasgow. We’re visiting each of our schools to meet with mentors, young people and staff to understand what makes each school special. Only 20 mins from the office, and the centre of Glasgow, I dropped by on my way into work.
MCR’s Pathways Coordinator, Fiona McLean, met me at the door with a warm smile and showed me to her lovely, bright office – filled with bean bags and projects the young people had made in group work. It’s here where she meets with her young people each week since starting the programme in 2017.
“We only started last September and to come in here and start something from scratch is a challenge. Castlemilk High was my school, I know the community, I know the barriers. This is where I come from but I wondered ‘can I achieve this?’. Its working with them to believe that they can go to university, go to college.”
Its very early stages for MCR in Castlemilk and Fiona is so keen for her young people to have the chance to be matched with a mentor. Our Southside schools are newer to the programme so there is a greater need for mentor recruitment. Southside spirit shines brightly at Castlemilk and Fiona was eager to introduce me to her young people.
“A lot of people don’t realise how close we are! We’re 10 mins from the motorway.
It’s trying to encourage people to come to Castlemilk, and realise that there’s young people here that are so willing. What I have seen is that the mentors get as much out of it as the young people do.”
Seeing the difference mentoring makes
After chatting with Fiona, I sat down with Patrick, Castlemilk’s School Link to MCR and Deputy Head Teacher, to talk about the pupils, mentoring and Castlemilk.
Patrick echoed Fiona’s words when describing his school.
“One of the beauties of working in Castlemilk is there’s a real sense of community and sense that people want to support each other.”
Even though MCR Pathways has only been in Patrick’s school since late 2017 he already sees the benefits. He’s heard of MCR’s success in other schools is keen for more mentors to get involved.
“If we can get local people in to support us – I’m sure they are there – they’ll see difference they could make”.
Chatting like pals
Over the course of my morning with Fiona in the MCR room, young people dropped in to say hi and were happy to speak to me, a complete stranger.
Chloe in S3 was one of the first pupils to be matched and, despite only meeting her mentor a few weeks prior, Fiona says, “every time I walk past its like two pals at a coffee shop… I don’t see any awkwardness.”
“I know Chloe has worked really closely with her mentor and that’s the side I’m seeing most impact. If we can replicate that 20 or 30 times, even 50 times, the difference it will make will be amazing. I can see the individual benefit for Chloe, it’s tangible.”
“Chloe’s come in today and then she’s away to a university Talent Taster. She’s really excited about it. So I can see the benefit. If we can just get local people in to support us, I’m sure they are there but do they know the difference they could make?”
Mentoring Matters 2 our young people, they tell us every day. The impact is undeniable – where in 2014 only 49% of care-experienced young people left school to full-time work, college or uni, now 86% do. We have an especially strong need for mentors in our Southside schools like Castlemilk High School, St Margaret Mary’s Secondary School and Kings Park Academy, can you or someone you know get involved?