Media release: Young Scots host MCR Pathways national conference

MCR YGT YP conference

School-based mentoring programme continues to expand into new regions across Scotland

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, to join Q&A session

THE award-winning mentoring charity, MCR Pathways, is hosting its second national conference on Thursday, April 18. The theme of the conference is Brave: Not Broken, and will explore young people’s mental health and well-being.

Young people will present the conference and lead attendees through a series of presentations, interviews, and workshops, designed to consider the challenges facing today’s youth from their perspective.

John Swinney MSP will join a panel, including Fiona Duncan, chair of The Independent Care Review.

Sir Harry Burns, Professor of Global Public Health, and Maureen McKenna, education chief, Glasgow City Council, to respond to questions from young people.

The conference will be attended by over 400 guests, including policymakers, business people, politicians, educationists and mentors, who will hear how the MCR mentoring model is transforming lives throughout Scotland.

Through mentoring MCR Pathways helps disadvantaged young people in or on the edges of the care system to realise their full potential.

Founded in Glasgow in 2007, MCR Pathways currently operates in all Glasgow secondary schools as well as schools in Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, North Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, and West Dunbartonshire.

Speaking ahead of the National Conference, Deputy First Minister, John Swinney said: “The MCR Pathways project provides crucial support for care experienced children and young people across Scotland and some of the results of the programme have been truly inspiring.

“Closing the attainment gap is this government’s number one priority and school-based mentoring schemes like the MCR Pathways programme have a significant part to play in helping us achieve this aim.

“We are making progress but know there are still many challenges facing young people in care and that they are not always able to access the same opportunities as their peers. That is why we are providing almost £33 million of attainment funding over the lifetime of this Parliament to specifically target support for care experienced children and young people.”

Iain MacRitchie, the founder of MCR Pathways, said: “Mentoring is making a huge difference to the lives of disadvantaged young people throughout Scotland. Our second national conference is a milestone and I am delighted to welcome the Deputy First Minister and our other guests to this amazing event.

“It is such an honour to watch young people thrive when they become part of the MCR Pathways programme. Over each of the last three years, we have doubled the number of young people we support each week to 2,000. It is our intention to continue to increase the number of young people we help until we reach everyone across the country.

“We are always looking to recruit more volunteers. It’s simple, by devoting 50 minutes a week to listen, build a trusting relationship and help a young person to find their talent, people can make a life-changing difference. All people have to do is give an hour and they can change a life.”

Find out more about the MCR Pathways programme and the conference by visiting


Notes for editors:

MCR Pathways is a multi-award-winning mentoring programme, which helps Scotland’s most disadvantaged and care-experienced young people achieve the same educational outcomes, career opportunities and life chances as all other young people.

At the core of the MCR programme are 50-minute weekly in-school mentoring sessions between a young person and their mentor, who listen and provide encouragement.

Mentors from all walks of life and include company directors, taxi drivers, and Council staff.

All commit to supporting a young person in school for a minimum of a year, ideally two. Mentors are trained and supported by MCR to listen, encourage and build positive relationships with their mentees. Age is also no barrier with as many mentors under-35 as over-65, with most at the peak of their careers. Mentoring has proved to positively and profoundly impact the mentors as much as the young person.

The success of the programme has been gathering nationwide acclaim. MCR Pathways has won multiple awards including the People Make Glasgow Inspiring City Award and have since received the UK-wide Leaving Care Award from Children and Young People Now.

External research shows that MCR mentoring has made a significant impact on young people’s confidence, belief and self-esteem as well as on school staying-on rates, attainment and progression to positive destinations – college, university, and employment. For example, in 2013/2014, only 54 per cent of care-experienced young people nationally progressed to a positive destination, while in 2018, 86 per cent of MCR mentored care-experienced young people did. Mentoring is creating a wave of positive change, impacting Scotland’s schools, community, and country.

The Programme was set up by Iain MacRitchie, a Glaswegian and now a social entrepreneur who previously advised over 100 businesses and acted as executive chairman/CEO of 18 different companies during his career. In 2007 Iain set up his charitable foundation and has dedicated five years as a full-time volunteer to establish MCR Pathways nationally. Iain’s work in supporting the country’s most disadvantaged young people was recognised as the recipient of Glasgow’s St Mungo Medal and was more recently named by AACSB International — the world’s largest business education alliance – as one of the 2019 Class of Influential Leaders.

The MCR Programme is actively supported by the Local Authorities in which it operates as well as the Scottish Government, Civil Service and Health & Social Care Partnerships, universities and colleges, employer bodies in Chambers of Commerce and Developing Young Workforce (DYW) teams and a growing number of key Scottish organisations, including Edrington Group, JP Morgan, Lloyds Banking Group, STV, Vodafone and the Wheatley Group.

As well as one-to-one relationship focused mentoring, MCR Programme works with young people through group work and their Talent Taster Programme which introduces young people to work, Higher and Further Education, and Arts and Sports experiences.

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