Sometimes the world can be daunting. We’ve all experienced moments when we’re faced with things we’ve never done before, meeting new people or making difficult decisions.
For many young people, having someone to share those daunting moments with can be an important lifeline. Now, our new CAN programme is making those connections possible.
Supporting young people to become confident adults
Relaunching for 2022 across the North East, after the life-changing impact made in the 2020 Newcastle programme, CAN: Confident Adults Northeast will connect 48 young people to mentors who can support them with the transition to adulthood.
The programme offers 16 to 25 years olds the opportunity to access support to overcome diverse barriers that may be stopping them from moving forward in their lives. This could mean a helping hand settling into independent living, having someone to join them attending community activities, or exploring with them what they want to do with the next chapter in their lives.
“I find it easier to talk to someone who knows me less – there’s no judgement then.”
The impartial guidance the team and mentors can provide is an important part of the impact of the programme, offering young people a friendly, confidential sounding board. This may include how to approach things many of us learn from our families, friends and support networks, such as setting up bills, accessing health services, searching for jobs, or managing budgets.
Chris Griffin took part in the programme in 2020 after his Grandma passed away, leaving him with growing debt and at risk of homelessness. With his mentor, Ricky, by his side, he took action to resolve his situation, organising ID, opening a bank account and, finally, accessing debt relief.
Chris explains, “Before coming to Children North East I had no idea how to be an adult at all. I had no experience of the outside world and I didn’t really know how to get things done. But through Ricky, I was able to get a bank account and sort my finances out which enabled me to get my flat.”
Being able to tap into someone with experience of navigating adulthood separate from the rest of his life was important to Chris. He comments, “Friends are fine, but in my case, I find it easier to talk to someone who knows me less – there’s no judgement then.”
A problem shared can be a problem halved
Leading the programme is Kate Sandberg, CAN Project Coordinator, who has worked on the frontline of youth support for 18 years, including 6 years with our Young People’s Services team.
Kate comments, “I am incredibly excited to share that CAN is launching across the North East for 2022. Every young person deserves the opportunity to access support and guidance as they make the transition to adulthood, and mentorship offers a safe space to ask difficult questions, explore options and grow the confidence to access new opportunities.”
Mentors will be carefully paired with young participants based on interests, experience, and the situation they are navigating. Many find the experience deeply rewarding.
Kim Ross, for example, is a mum of two who was paired with Omar Akram as part of the 2020 programme. New to independent living, she provided an experienced voice as he settled in, on hand to provide advice on household tasks such as using the washing machine and helping him apply for jobs.
Kim explains, “It’s really nice to see how the young people progress. They might be starting from a place where they feel stuck and can’t move forward and then they make these little steps – it’s a really nice experience to know you’ve helped them in that way.”
“I’d say it’s probably a 50-50 relationship where the person who’s volunteering is getting as much out of the experience as the person they’re working with.”
The Confident Adults Northeast programme has been made possible by the support of a generous private donation from a couple. One of the benefactors commented, “We have been fortunate in our lives to have had the support of different people and have been given the opportunities to follow what we want to do in life. If we can, we would like to help young people benefit from the kind of support we had.”
To learn more about CAN: Confident Adults Northeast, taking part in the programme or becoming a mentor, read about the programme on our website.