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YES Outdoors

A nine-month, three-stage mentoring programme (including climbing, bicycle maintenance and an Outward Bound Trust residential)

Evaluation type

Feasibility study
See project

Organisation name

YES Outdoors

Funding round

Another chance – Diversion from the criminal justice system




London, London, London, London

Activity Type





Sheffield Institute of Education

What does this project involve?

The CLIMB programme is a 9-month, 3-stage mentoring programme (that provides mentoring via climbing, bicycle maintenance and an Outward Bound residential week) that aims to improve the behaviour of young people at risk of involvement in crime. Delivered by the charity YES Outdoors, in this evaluation the project targeted 10–14 year-olds who were identified by teachers or youth workers as being at risk of being perpetrators or victims of crime (including violence), and who require specialist services. Children in Camden, Hackney, Haringey and Islington were targeted.

Why did YEF fund this project?

As the YEF’s toolkit explains, sports programmes and mentoring interventions are associated with a positive average impact on reducing serious violence and crime. However, there are considerable gaps in the evidence, particularly relating to robust evaluations conducted in an English or Welsh context.

YEF, therefore, funded a feasibility study of the CLIMB programme. It aimed to answer whether YES Outdoors had the organisational capacity to reach and recruit young people, the suitability of the referral pathways, young people’s perspectives of the intervention, the suitability of mentors, whether the programme was deliverable in 9-months and the extent to which young people engaged with each stage of CLIMB. The study also explored how appropriate different evaluation methods were to assess the programme.

Twenty-five young people took part, and the study used quantitative data collection with these young people, including a pre and post Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) with 22 children, in addition to surveys for 25 mentors and five setting-based leads (staff from schools or youth centres). Evaluators also used qualitative methods (such as interviews and focus groups), undertaken with the YES Outdoors team, three setting-based leads, seven young people, and eight mentors. The feasibility study commenced with recruitment in September 2022 and the last data was collected by June 2023, with the programme delivery finishing in May 2023.

Key conclusions

YES Outdoors successfully recruited young people. However, the resource required to achieve this and secure the attendance and engagement of young people across all three stages of the programme was larger than initially anticipated. In future delivery, YES Outdoors should consider how to streamline recruitment and selection and allow further lead-in time for building relationships with schools and youth centres.
Young people were positive about the programme and its component parts, although climbing was more popular than bicycle maintenance. Attendance across the programme was variable. Attendance at climbing sessions was 70%; it was 67% at bicycle maintenance, and 64% attended the residential. Attendance rates were higher among those recruited from youth centres (compared to those recruited from schools). However, given that the cohort recruited were often very disengaged at school, this is an encouraging sign
Mentors demonstrated passion and enthusiasm. They were motivated by helping their community and young people and also by a desire to teach young people to climb. Rather than a more formally delivered, one-to-one mentoring approach (which was what was initially intended), mentoring was delivered in an activity-based, coaching format, while mentors were used interchangeably with different young people.
The nine-month duration of CLIMB appeared to be appropriate, and the length of each component part appeared suitable, providing young people with adequate time to build their relationships
Overall, data collection was challenging for this cohort of young people.

What will YEF do next?

YEF has opted not to proceed with further evaluation of YES Outdoors at this stage.

Download the report