Horizons Mentoring Programme

Research shows that one in four care leavers end up homeless within two years of leaving care. There are many reasons for this. Care-experienced young people are significantly more likely to be engaged in the criminal justice system, have Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or be trafficked into prostitution. They more often feel marginalised. Research shows that they have poorer outcomes in education, feel less connected to others, and have fewer practical life skills. All these issues make them statistically more likely to experience homelessness. Our Horizons Mentoring Programme is a vital response to this issue.

Horizons works with 16–18-year-old care leavers who are disengaging or facing exclusion from education and are at risk of becoming homeless. The programme tackles this though tailored one-to-one mentoring. delivered by a Youth Mentor. They work with the young person on communication, self-esteem, self-respect, leadership and keeping safe. This is combined with support to identify their aspirations and foster independence, while keeping them engaged with education. The programme also includes skills-focused workshops covering essential life skills such as budgeting, job hunting, and independent living. These workshops complement the mentoring to provide young people with practical tools to thrive in their transition to adulthood.

Our approach is simple yet effective. We empower young people to set achievable goals based on their own aspirations. We then work with them to achieve these goals. By focusing on solutions rather than limitations, we help them navigate the challenges and open-up new opportunities for themselves. To ensure comprehensive support, we collaborate with other services. These include social workers and schools, providing wraparound care and addressing all aspects of our mentees’ well-being.

We understand the importance of flexibility and accessibility. While initial meetings are usually face-to-face, we understand that not everyone can consistently attend in-person sessions. Therefore, we are open to alternative methods of communication, ensuring that staying in touch feels convenient and non-intrusive.

Once we establish trust and our mentees feel comfortable, we customise our support to address their specific needs. We recognise that each person comes with unique circumstances, and we take a tailored approach to supporting them. Through referrals, we gain insights into the backgrounds of the individuals we work with. They might have been involved in gangs or have had difficulties with the law. This information helps us to tailor our approach to their specific needs. For instance, if they have financial worries, we can focus on programmes that offer opportunities to earn money rather than solely offering training or volunteer opportunities. By understanding their personal strengths and weaknesses, we can determine the best direction to guide them.

Our approach aims to break the cycle of social exclusion and homelessness that vulnerable young people can fall into. Every young person deserves the chance to succeed, and Horizons exists to make sure that they get it.

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