Positive Placements With The YMCA

Positive Placements With The YMCA

by Kate Coppock

Every vulnerable or disadvantaged young person should have someone they can trust and feel safe whilst learning.

YMCA DownsLink Group is a charity and registered housing provider working across Sussex and Surrey. Positive Placements supports vulnerable, disadvantaged young people aged from 16-25 who live in the local community, many of whom have suffered trauma in the past, to obtain education, employment or training. This is achieved by recruiting and training volunteer mentors from the local community who are matched with a young person (mentee) to support them on this journey.

Positive Placements has been operating since 2014, and has projects running in Crawley, Mid Sussex, Horsham, Brighton & Hove and Guildford. The mentor and mentee are matched based on their strengths and interests. Together they identify goals and by exploring some of the barriers and challenges they may face (such as poverty, substance misuse, mental health etc.), they formulate a step-by-step action plan. By meeting on a weekly basis for up to a year, the mentees build their readiness for work.

Our volunteer mentors come from a wide range of backgrounds, such as social work, teaching or business, and can offer mentees a dedicated, knowledgeable and supportive hand to enable them to reach their goals. Mentors go through a thorough training and screening process, which includes DBS and reference checks, to prepare and give them the tools they will need to appropriately support their mentees.

Positive Placements not only supports young people to look for, find and sustain education, employment or training but it also enables them to increase their confidence, develop and recognise their potential, overcome barriers, develop an understanding of and build responsibility towards their community and to feel valued.

We ask our mentors for a long-term commitment of up to a year, in order for them to support the client for as long as possible. When a young person is successful in gaining employment, training or education, the mentoring helps to sustain the placement as the mentor can work and look at supporting the young person if any issues arise.

PP mobilises the local community, increasing social capital and helping us to balance the ever-increasing needs of these young people with ever-diminishing finances to pay for their support.

YMCA Positive Placements is delighted to be double award winning having won the YMCA Youth Matters Awards for Training & Education Project of the Year as well as Best Advice & Guidance Award at The Children and Young People Now Awards.

We would love to hear from local members of the community who would like to volunteer for us, young people who feel Positive Placements would benefit them or any local business that feel they can help us with work experience, donations or partnership working. Please contact kate.coppock@ymcadlg.org or 07881 013758 for a chat!