Positive Placements - YMCA Downslink Group
5th August 2019
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Positive Placements is a mentoring project run by YMCA DownsLink Group in which young people looking to get into education, employment or training are matched with volunteer mentors from the community who support them to achieve their goals. It has been successfully running in Brighton and Hove, Horsham, Crawley, Mid-Sussex and Guildford for several years and in the last year has supported over 100 young people on their journey into work or education. The YMCA is the oldest and largest youth charity in the world and the YMCA DownsLink Group (a merger of local YMCAs across Sussex and Surrey) is one of the largest YMCAs in the country. Positive Placements is one of the many services it offers to help achieve its aim of supporting all young people to belong, contribute and thrive and it has now expanded into the Eastbourne and Hailsham areas.

The young people who are referred might be at risk of homelessness, experiencing anxiety or mental health issues, be a young parent, have been in care, been in trouble with the police or be struggling to identify how to access education, training or employment. This is where Positive Placements comes in! It is open to all young people in the Eastbourne and Hailsham area not just those currently living in YMCA housing and referrals are accepted from parents, carers, voluntary and statutory services or young people can refer themselves.

The project works by matching young people aged 16 to 25 with mentors based on complimentary personalities, shared interests, and availability, the mentor and mentee meet for approximately an hour a week for up to a year. Mentors are volunteers who come from a wide range of backgrounds and offer a diverse set of skills and knowledge. Mentors are trained and fully supported by YMCA DLG and their Coordinator throughout their time as a volunteer to ensure they are confident and comfortable with the mentoring relationship. They have regular supervision with the project coordinator as well as mentor meetings where they can meet up with other volunteers and share ideas, strategies and offer peer support.

One mentor said at a monthly team meeting:

“Becoming a mentor and working with my mentee has been one of the most rewarding volunteering activities I have done.  It has taught me to see situations from another perspective, and together with my mentee we have worked hard to develop a plan and a path forward into employment.  We have also developed a relationship which is both supportive and full of humour “.

The project not only supports young people to look for, find and sustain education, employment or training but it also enables them to:

  • increase their confidence and recognise their potential
  • overcome barriers
  • gain new experiences
  • develop an understanding of and build responsibility towards their community
  • develop interpersonal skills
  • build work related skills and ultimately feel valued.

One mentee commented to his mentor that this was the first time anyone had taken an interest in his education and potential.  This mentor was amazed to find that his mentee was growing in confidence simply because he (the mentor) turned up to the sessions voluntarily and without payment.  This is a powerful statement to the young person that he is, in his words, “worth something”.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering as a mentor or more information about the project, please contact Suzanne Cleverley the Positive Placements Coordinator for Eastbourne at suzanne.cleverley@ymcadlg.org

About the Author

Suzanne - Positive Placements Coordinator

Member since: 31st July 2019

I am the Coordinator for the Positive Placements Project based at Eastbourne Foyer. The project is part of the YMCA DownsLink Group offer to support local young people.
My job is to recruit, train and...

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