For the last two years YMCA Scotland, has been further developing its Early Intervention programmes  including Plusone mentoring, but has also been looking at how a more “preventative” approach can engage with children (8-14) either as a mentoring approach (Aspire Mentoring) or within existing youth work settings. Both Early Intervention and targeted Prevention work seeks to identify the potential risks in a child/young person that may lead to future involvement in the justice system however targeted Prevention will seek to identify emerging risk factors at a stage earlier than Early intervention and will have a clear focus of asset building and the positive potential of the child/young person with less focus on risks and problem behaviour.

Research has identified factors in children and young people’s lives associated with an increased risk of problems at school, criminal behaviour and drug and alcohol misuse.  A preventative approach centres on building trusting relationships with these young people to help them bring about change and build resilience.  Five local YMCAs Edinburgh, Renfrew, Kirkcaldy, Tollcross and Dumfries have been piloting preventative approaches within their existing youth work programmes.





Tollcross YMCA - Bounce House Social Enterprise - Kyle’s Story

Jason’s involvement in the Bounce House social enterprise has been a positive experience for him and exposed him to financial and project responsibilities i.e. delegating others, building up trust, handling cash. As part of the project Jason has a one to one mentor who is a member of the youth work staff and spends time with him completing his outcome star evaluation. This intense support has resulted in Jason’s attendance at school rising to 57%. His  behaviour has become less aggressive to his peer group which has been observed by youth work staff during sessions and has also been commented upon by his teachers at school. The school have commented that his behaviour is much more positive and that it is evident that Jason is demonstrating a tolerance and self-control towards others that he does not like, agree with who challenge his negative behaviour.

Jason’s attendance has also increased at Tollcross YMCA , not only does he attend the youth committee as a result of the prevention project he now attends our Saturday night drop in and most trips and events delivered by Tollcross YMCA. As a result of the prevention project Jason has started to understand the importance of a school education if he’s to achieve his goal of a career in engineering. As a result of his weekly talks with youth work staff over his outcome star’s he has had the opportunity to discuss his feeling and is able with guidance to work through how he should deal with a given issue so that it’s a more positive outcome for him. This has been a really important aspect of the project for Jason.

YMCA Edinburgh – After School Club - Lee’s Story

Lee first attended the After School Club at one of the taster days at the YMCA, accompanied by a family support worker. During this session, Lee was shy and reluctant to take part in games and activities, hiding behind the family support worker when directly addressed. In particular, he refused to take part in activities involving pens, pencils or paintbrushes. Alongside this, he would not speak to staff or other children.

Throughout this year and with the encouragement of staff and volunteers, Lee has spoken more, resulting in some lengthy, and extremely imaginative, conversations. Though he remains reluctant to participate in games and activities with the rest of the group, he observes closely and will often choose an element of the game to emulate in his own way.  He has also demonstrated an increased interest in drawing and writing, often requesting this activity as an alternative. He produces lists of superheroes and other comic-book characters, drawings of his own invention and neatly completed colouring-in sheets.