Inspired by the accepting and nurturing relationship between a young person and a grandparent, the programme recruits, trains and supports volunteer mentors from a diverse range of backgrounds, aged 50 plus, known as Grandmentors. They use their skills and experience to provide bespoke mentoring for young people leaving care during their transition into adulthood and independence.
The programme was officially launched in Wolverhampton during Care Leavers Week, and already a dozen volunteers from a range of backgrounds – including counsellors, carers, a teacher and a probation worker – have signed up.
Jason Jones, Volunteering Matters Head of Wales, South West and Midlands, said: “We are delighted to be teaming up with City of Wolverhampton Council to launch Grandmentors in Wolverhampton.
“I’ve seen first hand the life changing impact that volunteers can have on young people in our Grandmentors projects in other areas and know that there are many people over 50 in Wolverhampton who have valuable skills and experience that could really benefit a young care leaver.”
Young people who leave care enter a crucial period of their lives, in which they plan and prepare for their future. During this period of transition, those leaving care face significant challenges. Grandmentors has proven to be a game changer, matching 500 Grandmentors with young care leavers across the UK in the past decade – and dramatically enhancing the life chances of young people.
Some 82% of vulnerable young people supported by Grandmentors are in education, employment or training within 6 months of graduating from the programme, compared with just 51% for care leavers nationally.
Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "The Grandmentors project is a fantastic initiative which will really support our young people at one of the most challenging times in their lives.
“I would encourage anyone who is interested in becoming a Grandmentor, and help care leavers successfully make the transition to adulthood, to contact Volunteering Matters to find out more about this wonderful opportunity."
Anyone who would like to find out more about Grandmentors, or who is interested in volunteering, is asked to please contact Farhana Akthar on 07719 959777 or via email at Farhana.Akthar@volunteeringmatters.org.uk.
Other activities during Care Leavers Week (24 to 30 October) included the launch of The House Project, which will help care leavers into their first home, a fun day at WV Active Bilston-Bert Williams and a meal out for care leavers and their Young Persons Advisors, as well as attendance at the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum in London and the regional Children in Care Leavers Council in West Bromwich.
National Care Leavers Week seeks to highlight the needs of care leavers, and encourage the agencies responsible for looking after them to work in a coordinated and effective way.
- The City of Wolverhampton Council's Local Offer for care leavers aged between 16 and 25 provides information about a wide range of services which could help them prepare for adult life. The Local Offer was developed in partnership with care leavers and includes details of support which they are entitled to by law, as well as additional services that the council has been able to secure with the help of partner organisations. For more information, please visit Care Leavers Offer.