Concerns cause male mentor shortages

A mentoring scheme for five to 11 year-olds is facing an acute
shortage of male volunteers because of society’s concerns about men
who want to work with children.

Chance UK, a charity that provides mentors for young people,
launched a recruitment campaign for young adult male mentors this
week. Although boys account for 80 per cent of the children
receiving mentoring only one in 10 mentors is male.

Gracia McGrath, chief executive of Chance UK, said: “There is a
general perception in society that it is a bit strange for a man to
be working with children. In the caring professions there is much
better understanding of the need to have male role models.”

She added: “We want boys to grow up thinking it’s OK for a man be a
role model, to be a father and to have paternal feelings. It is
also damaging to a boy’s self-esteem if the only people who show
kindness are female.”

Many of the children have been excluded or are under the threat of
exclusion from school and have chaotic home lives. The mentors, who
meet the children once a week, demonstrate stability and a sense of
commitment. The organisation has found that its male mentors, many
in their 20s and 30s, are often not ready for the commitment of
fatherhood but want the experience of working with children.

Chance UK, which is funded by the Home Office’s family support
unit, provides a year’s mentoring to 100 children in the London
boroughs of Hackney, Haringey and Islington.

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