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Durham University

Van Mildert College

Secure Centre Mentoring Scheme

The Secure Centre Mentoring Scheme (SCMS) provides support to young people at Aycliffe Secure Centre and helps to facilitate their rehabilitation.

Many young people in Secure Centres suffer from low self-confidence and lonliness and sometimes receive little support from their family and friends. The SCMS Team act as consistent, supportive and non-jugmental role models of a similar age, and with similar interests and sense of humour to them, giving the young people someone to talk to about everyday problems or concerns about preparing for release and resettlement.

The Project has three core componants:

  • Group Visits - SCMS Mentors visit the Secure Centre in groups, and a typical visit involves playing pool or cards, occassionally eating dinner together or watching and discussing TV.
  • Individual Support - we also provide one-to-one visits to young people who don't have family visits, giving additional support to those that need it most. We are hoping to offer additional repat one-to-one visits in the future.
  • Youth Club - as part of the scheme, we have set up a Youth Club for the young people to visit.

We also play sport with the young people, who have formed a football team that regularly win the friendly matches against the project participants. Beyond the game, these sports matches develop teamwork and communication skills of the young people that we visit, which could have longer term benefits following rehabilitation.

Through the Secure Centre Mentoring scheme, we aim to develop the self confidence of the young people we visit, and have inspired some participants to seek further education. Over the years, the resettlement departments at the Secure Centres have hugely appreciated our support.

The project also allows our volunteers to broaden their own understanding other people and gain an insight into life in a secure centre. Our volunteers tell us that this is an incredibly worthwhile experience.

Looking to the future, we hope to expand the project to other Secure Centres in the North East. We would also like to provide higher quality equiptment for the Youth Club, so that the resources can be used for years to come.

“I've developed real friendships with the young people that I visit. Although I aim to help and advise the young people, I feel they teach me a great deal too. ”