Personal Mentor Network launched across the south west

16th March, 2015
Programme to support young people into work kick starts across the peninsula

This month sees the launch of the Personal Mentor Network, a ground breaking project for young people in key locations across the peninsula.

The pilot scheme will be running in Bideford, Exeter, Tiverton, Liskeard, Bridgwater and Frome as well as Plymouth and Torbay.

Created and developed through the Plymouth and South West Peninsula City Deal, the scheme takes a unique approach to supporting young people who are finding it extremely difficult to get into work.

The scheme is a national first. Working closely with 18-24 year olds, the Mentors will provide practical advice and help with confidence techniques, online applications and a whole range of guidance that is not available to them in current support projects.

The latest figures from Jobcentre Plus show that there are 4,600 18-24 year olds claiming Job Seekers Allowance throughout Cornwall, Devon, Plymouth, Torbay and Somerset.

Plymouth City Council Leader, Tudor Evans said: “One of the biggest issues across the country is getting young people into work and helping them stay there. It became obvious to us that a new approach was desperately wanted and that we needed to provide it for our young people in Plymouth and across the peninsula.

“City Deal has taken the lead to create a project that is based on what young people actually want and need. We are extremely proud of the Personal Mentor Network. It is a pioneering pilot scheme that will be used to inform national thinking.”

Through a series of workshops, the team behind the Personal Mentor Network spoke to young people and their Jobcentre Plus work coaches about what they felt would help them. Discussions included advice on the right clothes for different interviews, how to tailor interview preparation for a particular job, and many struggled with online applications.  

To qualify young people must have been unemployed for at least three months and have been referred to the scheme by their work coaches. As a pilot scheme, it is not being rolled out across the entire peninsula, but in key locations where intervention is most needed.

The programme is managed for City Deal by Petroc, who lead a team of delivery partners operating across the far south west.

Petroc’s Principal, David Dodd said: “We are extremely proud of the Personal Mentor Network, it has a real potential to change lives. One of the key elements is the continuity it offers. We can keep working with young people even after they have found work.

“So many young people struggle to stay in work because they find it hard to meet their employer’s expectations. They can also find it difficult to make the transition from weekly benefits to monthly pay. Again we can help with advice and support.”

Working with Petroc are ten organisations that will provide the mentoring service itself. These include Campbell Page Ltd, City College Plymouth, Claro Support, I Can Do That!, Independent Futures, Pluss, St Loye’s Foundation, Targeted Youth Support, Tomorrow People’s Trust and Young Devon. Some of the companies will work in specific locations while others will operate across the entire area, depending on the support needed.

Jonathan Nicholls, a personal mentor for St Loye’s Foundation said: “At St Loye’s Foundation we’re excited about being able to provide personalised mentoring support to young people, as we’re passionate about helping people find employment.

“Having run a mentoring project for young people in the past I know how valuable this support can be. I enjoy working with young people because I know how difficult it is making a successful transition to adulthood and getting started on the employment ladder.”

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth for Devon County Council, said: “Currently, there are 1,352 young people aged between 18 and 24 looking for work and claiming Jobseekers Allowance in Devon, and we need to support them into employment and careers. We need to invest in securing this generation’s future.”

David Hall, Cabinet Member for Business, Inward Investment and Policy for Somerset County Council said: “Amongst the many schemes that support 18-24s into work, the Personal Mentor Network programme is an exciting new development. The economic climate has hit our young people particularly hard and is an issue we felt we had to address.”

I Can Do That! will be operating in Torbay. Director, Amanda Moss said:  “I Can Do That! offers support to young people on a range of subjects and issues including self employment advice and planning as well as career direction choices. These are put together in a structured training and promotion plan that can include Neuro Linguistic Programming, which helps to analyse and change behaviours, fears and attitudes. We will also introduce young people to local employers face to face to improve confidence and contacts.”

The project will run until May 2017 with delivery happening until December 2016.  The Personal Mentor Network is funded through the Plymouth and South West Peninsula City Deal and forms part of the Youth Deal – a series of programmes aimed at supporting young people into work and developing their careers.

For more information on the Plymouth and South West Peninsula City Deal, visit