What does this project involve?
The St Christopher’s Fellowship (SCF) Protective Sibling Mentoring Programme aims to prevent anti-social or criminal behaviour among 10 to 14 year olds who have older siblings known to, or at risk of involvement in, the youth justice system. Mentoring is delivered by youth workers, who provide 10 one-hour mentoring sessions over a 10-week period. Sessions are also accompanied with sports and leisure-based activities (such as trampolining and eating out).
Why did YEF fund this project?
As the YEF Toolkit explains, mentoring (where children are matched with a mentor and encouraged to meet regularly) has – on average – a moderate impact on violent crime.
The research suggests that – on average – mentoring reduces violence by 21%, all offending by 14% and reoffending by 19%. We have a moderate confidence in these estimates, so we view mentoring as a promising approach. However, very few robust studies have been conducted in an English and Welsh context.
Moreover, some studies have alluded that sibling criminality may increase the risk of offending in younger siblings. However, this influence is poorly understood and complex. And there’s very limited evidence related to the mentoring of younger siblings of those who have committed crime.
To learn more, we funded a feasibility study of the Protective Sibling Mentoring Programme.
The evaluation aimed to ascertain whether the programme achieved its intended outputs for the target group. Using nine qualitative interviews with programme participants, project staff and partners, and quantitative monitoring data on 25 participants, the study explored: whether programme delivery was consistent with design; the barriers and facilitators to good delivery; how much of the service young people received; the quality, responsiveness and reach of the programme; the extent to which it offered a genuinely new and innovative offer; and, what adaptations were made to the intervention.
The evaluation was undertaken between November 2019 and July 2021. Both delivery and evaluation therefore took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring both the evaluators and delivery team to adapt.
|The programme failed to reach the intended number of participants. St Christopher’s Fellowship (SCF) had intended to deliver mentoring to 160 young people, but only 25 received the intervention. This was, in part, due to an overestimation of the size of the target group. Restrictive referral criteria and COVID-19 restrictions preventing SCF staff from effectively liaising with other agencies and promoting the programme also hampered recruitment. Signposting to other services was also limited, only occurring on 11 occasions.|
|Of the 25 young people who engaged with the mentoring programme, just over half of the young people (13 out of 25) attended the intended 10 sessions, with two thirds (17 out of 25) attending six or more sessions. This suggests that the SCF mentors were generally able to engage with those young people who did attend and managed to sustain their involvement over several sessions. Duration of delivery ranged from 4 to 13 months, suggesting that sessions did not always occur on a weekly basis.|
|The evaluators found that SCF staff applied youth work practice and principles and were led by the young people in determining the activities they jointly engaged in. Young people reflected that sessions provided a safe space to discuss concerns, while the programme also offered young people – who in many cases were financially disadvantaged – opportunities to enjoy activities such as trampolining, bowling and eating out.|
|SCF staff engaged with young people differently to other services, offering a new and different intervention. Project staff perceived that the opt-in, unstructured, light-touch approach of the programme differed to the compliance-led model of other statutory services, while SCF were also able to offer leisure activities not provided by other services.|
|As a result of COVID-19, delivery was adapted to provide remote mentoring. Nearly three fifths (59%) of monitored sessions were delivered face-to-face, with the remainder being delivered remotely.|
What will YEF do next?
Due to the limitations outlined in the study, particularly the inability of the project to recruit the intended number of young people, we have no immediate plans to fund a further evaluation of the Protective Sibling Mentoring Programme.