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'They made me realise that... I'm not worth nothing': The positive effects of mentoring at-risk youths

A new report found mentoring can significantly reduce the risk of a youth reoffending.

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“[They] made me realise that I’m worth something, I’m not worth nothing… [My mentor] told me not to be throwing my life away, that I was worth something at the end of the day… I just thought there was nothing in life for me.” – Youth mentee of the Le Chéile service

A VOLUNTEER COMMUNITY mentoring service can help reduce the risk of young people who have committed a crime from re-offending, a new report had found.

A report published on the services of the Le Chéile charity also found that for every €1 spent in the service there is a return of over €4.

Le Chéile is a community-based volunteer mentoring and family support service. It works with young people involved in or at risk of offending.

The charity works by way of referrals by the courts to the probation service. The charity then supplies the at-risk young person – aged between 12 and 21 – with a voluntary mentor in their community who works and meets with them.

Le Chéile describes the mentoring as “a one-to-one relationship-based support which provides a positive role model to a young person”. The objective of the service is for the young person to reduce their offending and grow as a person.

The voluntary mentor is given training and support by Le Chéile throughout the process.

The report on the youth mentoring service – titled Reducing Crime in Ireland – was carried out by Dr Kieran O’Dwyer of KC Consulting.

It had a number of key findings, including stating that the Le Chéile service should continue to be funded and expanded throughout the country.

Le Chéile is funded by the Irish Youth Justice Service through the Probation Service. Its funding comes from both the Irish Government and the EU.

Findings 

The report monitored Le Chéile services over the course of two years, from 2013 to 2015.

It found that over this time a reduction in offending behaviour of the youths in the programme of 28% (with about half of this numbers attributed directly to the mentoring)

The reduction also found reductions in alcohol and drug use among the people in the programme. Meanwhile, there were increases in self-confidence, hopefulness and happiness in youths involved with Le Chéile.

The report also found improvements in engagement with activities and communication skills.

From a financial standpoint, it found that Le Chéile’s mentoring service cost a total of €1,093,647 in 2015. It calculated that the value of the service in that time was €4,755,614, giving it a cost/value ratio of 1:4.

Speaking at the launch of the report today, Le Chéile CEO Anne Conroy said it was a “very significant evaluation of the service”. Conroy thanked the volunteer mentors and appealed for others to come forward to give their time.

Children’s Court judge John O’Connor was also present at the launch and commended the work done by the service.

Le Chéile was established in 2005 in Coolock in Dublin. It also offers a family support service and parent mentoring service. The charity also operates a restorative justice service in Limerick.

Read: More parents are using children to shoplift for them, according to retailers

Read: Child offenders will no longer be detained in adult prisons

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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