Appeal for more positive role models to join InTandem - Fife-wide mentoring project

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A Fife-wide mentoring project is looking for more volunteers to come on board and be positive role models for looked after children.

InTandem operates out of Kirkcaldy YMCA across the region, and wants to hear from trusted adults who can listen, support and help create a long-term relationship for youngsters who have experience of the social work and care systems.

The weekly meetings with mentors could embrace everything from a coffee at McDonald’s to a day at the swimming pool - things other children take for granted but which, for reasons outwith their control, are not always open to their own family set-up. The mentors work with them for a period of 16 months, during which time they can be trusted confidants, and that, in turn, can help youngsters improve at school and feel better about themselves as they emerge out of kinship care into adulthood.

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Dave Gillespie, programme co-ordinator, has vacancies to fill as he looks to set up mentors for youngsters in 18 families.

InTandem co-ordinator for Fife Dave Gillespie (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)InTandem co-ordinator for Fife Dave Gillespie (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
InTandem co-ordinator for Fife Dave Gillespie (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

“Mentors are an opportunity for pairing people with shared interests, and they go out weekly and do something together,” he said. “It’s about fun and building up relationships. People’s lives can be changed.”

The needs and wishes of the young person sit at the heart of the Scottish Government initiative which aims to give them at least one positive role model top look up, and to turn to. Mentors come from all walks of life, and give up an hour a week to spend with the young person. It takes several months to join as full training and all checks are carried out, and it is a commitment of time to make a young life that bit better.

InTandem launched in Fife in 2017, and Dave moved into his current role two years ago after previous roles as youth worker at the YM, and also working in residential care.

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“There is no real typical volunteer,” he said. “Anyone can do it - some come from a background working in social work or the third sector, some have worked previously with young people and want to give something back to the community.

InTandem operates across Fife and has vacancies for more mentors (Pic posed by models)InTandem operates across Fife and has vacancies for more mentors (Pic posed by models)
InTandem operates across Fife and has vacancies for more mentors (Pic posed by models)

“And there is no typical home or background the youngsters come from. A family parent or carer may not be physically capable of taking their children swimming,for example, so the mentor could - if that was what the young person wanted. They may also be working and don’t have the time to do the things they want to. This scheme gives youngsters the opportunity that others take for granted - whether that’s a day out or a trip to McDonald’s.”

The weekly meets mean the youngster gets a guarantee of time with their mentor to do whatever it is they want to do - and that is where the relationship is developed. The initiative aims to pair people with shared interests, and it can have spin offs as the mentor becomes a trusted figure who can listen, and also support the youngster.

“It is a different perspective from being a parent,” said Dave. “The biggest worry for volunteers is what if the child doesn’t like me? It is completely up to the young person to get involved or not, but we put them together and pick out a subject they may have in common and let them develop their bonds.

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“We go with them to the first meeting and talk them through the project. It is about managing expectations - we always make sure there is something planned for the next one. And we encourage them to have indoor and outdoor plans.”

The benefits of that single hour each week can go beyond just an activity or journey - it gives the young person a regular figure in their lives.

“There may be problems at school, or in the home so a volunteer mentor becomes a sympathetic ear - someone they can talk or, or simply vent. The scheme is all about making sure it works for the young person.”

More information at

> What do mentors say about the scheme?

Helen: “Sharing stories and jokes, having new experiences together, seeing a smile on my mentee’s face, and gaining the trust needed to help through tougher times”

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Tracy: “Sometimes it can be difficult to see them going through hard times but the reward of knowing you can help by listening and giving guidance is worth so much more.”

> And the view of the young people who take part?

When asked what is the best thing about having a volunteer mentor, Lloyd said: “Doing stuff – like swimming, playing football or pool, going cycling and meeting new people like Shug at the Gallatown Bike Hub and Canadian Kyle at the swimming pool!”