Entrepreneur and philanthropist Tom Hunter has announced a £7.5 million investment from The Hunter Foundation (THF) in partnership with the Scottish Government to deliver an overall funding package of £26.9 million for a Scottish mentoring and leadership programme for young people across Scotland.
MCR Pathways charity will roll out its Young Scottish Talent mentoring programme and charity and social enterprise Columba 1400 will expand its Leadership Academies for Young People working in partnership to improve education outcomes, career opportunities and life chances.
A network of volunteer mentors — drawn from business, civic society and the wider public — will offer tailored support to young people through schools as lockdown eases.
The volunteers will develop relationships that are key to helping young people achieve their full potential.
Tom Hunter said: “The impact of Covid-19 on our young people has been devastating and we now need, with focus, care and speed, to support them in moving to positive destinations using proven models of support.
“Thankfully we have those models of support in MCR Pathways and Columba 1400 and by combining their skills and support and joining that support up seamlessly with the likes of DYW (Developing the Young Workforce) and SDS (Skills Development Scotland) we believe we can make a massive difference to the 15000 or so young people this programme will support.
“That impact will not only deliver positive destinations to them but make a material and significant impact on our economy both in savings in service provision and in their moving to a positive destination in employment or further education.
“We must work collectively by building on the sum of the parts and dynamically with the customer at the front and centre of this programme in partnership with schools and Local Authorities alike.”
Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said: “I very much welcome this commitment from The Hunter Foundation to support our young people through mentoring and leadership, a programme that will play a vital role in supporting up to 15,000 young people reach their full potential.
“We know just how much young people have been affected by the pandemic.
“That’s why we’re investing £20m in a programme to help improve the wellbeing of children and young people over the summer months, with a particular focus on those most impacted by the pandemic.
“But as we head into the recovery and renewal phases of our response to COVID, collaboration will be more important than ever, and this joint investment from Scottish Government and The Hunter Foundation shows what can be achieved through strong partnerships”.
Marie Clare Tully, Chief Executive, Columba 1400, said: “We are so grateful that thanks to the kindness and vision of the Scottish Government and The Hunter Foundation we are working in partnership with MCR Pathways so we can be alongside the incredible young people of Scotland who bring so much to each and every community.
“Mentoring and exploring values-based leadership will lead to young people creating the conditions for change.
“It will help them open up and become leaders within their families, schools and communities.
“It will help create believers in change and makers of change.
“The ripple effect will be felt across the whole of society.”
Graeme McEwan, CEO and Mentor, MCR Pathways said: “This is a significant and ground-breaking investment in the future of young people across the country and we are delighted by the opportunities it offers to improve the lives of those who need our support most.
“All young people, no matter their background or circumstances, deserve the right to reach their full potential.
“Mentoring plays a vital role in unlocking this potential and helping to build a more confident, skilled and inclusive generation who will play their full part in the future success of this country.
“We look forward to working with volunteer mentors, schools, teachers and Columba 1400 to make a long and lasting impact through this initiative.”