Hannah had a history of offending that was a barrier to gaining employment, but she overcame this with help from her YMCA Positive Placements mentor.

The local Anti Social Behaviour Team referred Hannah* to YMCA Positive Placements. At 19 she had been doing very little for about six months.

Hannah had a history of not engaging with people she did not immediately ‘take’ to, so finding the right mentor first-time round was important. The Coordinator matched her with a mentor who was an ex-offender and had a calm, personable yet challenging approach.

At Hannah’s request they initially met at the local police station, where she felt comfortable and in familiar surroundings. In the early weeks she was often late or did not attend at all. The mentor was able to address this in a non-confrontational, respectful way. Hannah began to text in advance if she was going to be late or needed to change a session.

Soon they started meeting weekly at a local café. The focus began to shift from general conversation about her week, to establishing what her goals were. This period of building rapport and gaining her trust – seeing her mentor as authentic – was a valuable part of the process. During these conversations, Hannah’s mentor was able to help her reflect on the various influences at work in her life. Gradually Hannah’s ‘friendship group’ began to change and subsequently her antisocial behaviour and substance misuse reduced.

Prior to this Hannah had sent off many job application forms. She always declared the detail of her offending history – and had never been invited for interview. Together Hannah and her mentor identified this as a challenge. They needed to find ways to be honest about the offence, yet also give potential employers the opportunity to meet Hannah in person and see beyond her past behaviour. The YMCA Positive Placements Coordinator signposted the mentor to relevant information about disclosing a criminal record.

The mentor then worked with Hannah to apply for a job, disclosing her offending history, but leaving the detail for discussion at interview. They then role-played interview scenarios. The mentor was able to highlight Hannah’s many other qualities and strengths – giving her confidence in her abilities.

After seven months of mentoring Hannah was offered and accepted a part-time job!

Her mentor continued to offer support for the next five months while she settled into her new job. They met fortnightly, gradually decreasing to monthly with text contact in between, until the mentoring year came to an end. At the time of writing Hannah has remained in employment for eight months. We wish her every success in the future.

*Name and photo have been changed to protect the young person’s identity