The mentorship scheme, launched in 2013 by Christian charity Action for Children, is the first of its kind in the UK to provide ‘peer mentors’ to help youngsters break free from a life of organised crime.
It sees advisors, many of whom are reformed criminals modelling alternative lifestyles to “high risk” 11 – 18 year olds who have resisted more conventional forms of support, in a bid to deter them from further criminal activity.
Teenagers involved in drug dealing, money laundering and robbery were offered support in the form of education, training and employment advice at the Glaswegian based project over the past six years.
An analysis by the Glasgow City Council found that the scheme prevented 45 out of 49 recent participants in the scheme from re-offending and has saved the council more than £500,000 by diverting four high risk children away from needing care.
Following the success of Action for Children’s Serious Organised Crime Early Intervention service, The National Lottery is providing the charity with £4.6 million to expand the project to Edinburgh, Newcastle and Cardiff.
Action for Children director for Scotland Paul Carberry, said: “Serious organised crime is an issue for the whole of the UK, it disproportionately impacts the more vulnerable in our communities and has a greater presence in socially and economically disadvantaged areas.
“Since 2013, this project has worked intensively with more than 70 young people across Glasgow, diverting them away from a life in serious organised crime and into employment.
“The success from Scotland will lead the way across the UK to help ensure that every child and young person in the country has a safe and happy childhood with the foundations they need to thrive.”
UK Funding Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, Joe Ferns added: “Action for Children’s Serious Organised Crime project has proved to be very effective in Scotland and we’re proud that National Lottery funding will now see it expand to help even more young people at risk.
“By identifying and diverting young people away from serious organised crime and towards positive choices, this project not only helps reduce lawbreaking, but also helps them to thrive.”
The project will be rolled out in Edinburgh in January, and in Newcastle and Cardiff by April 2020.