Mentoring and Diversity: An International Perspective

The Probation Service: a congruent mentoring network UK

Coral Gardiner [9]

Background

Beginning Employment and Training (BEAT) was the first mentoring scheme for people in the UK Criminal Justice System. Developed in 1993, it helped offenders to move from punishment to prevention. When considering the research, the message was then, and remains stark: unemployment is a significant cause of crime, particularly among those people who already have a criminal record. Moreover, the position is more acute for those from minority ethnic backgrounds who are often likely to be unemployed and to feature disproportionately within the Criminal Justice System. As a result, these cohorts are particularly prone to finding themselves on an unemployment-crime-imprisonment-reoffending helter-skelter.

The West Midlands Probation Service initiated BEAT as a multicultural mentoring programme, which proved highly successful in its aims to help offenders access Employment, Training and Education.

An evaluation of BEAT carried out in 1997 by Paul Tilsley found:

One is therefore left with an impression of a young person with learning difficulties who has had a very poor experience of school, very little knowledge of employment routine, probably suffered from social exclusion, having very low self esteem. These issues are important, as without a network of contacts, their life is very limited to those young people who are in the same situation as they themselves are. The temptations to criminal activity are therefore greater due to lack of a structured routine and to peer pressure.

This statement suggests there is a need for continuing support...

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