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Minister for Civil Society Baroness Barran MBE visits Newark as Nottinghamshire YMCA's Y’s Girls mentoring scheme takes off

A new scheme supporting young women and girls at risk of developing mental health issues has been launched by the YMCA.

Nottinghamshire YMCA is working with social workers, schools and local police to launch Y’s Girls mentoring scheme, which will connect girls aged nine to 14 with mentors from a range of different backgrounds to positively influence their lives and decision making as they enter adulthood.

Asma Iqbal, programme coordinator for the Y’s Girls project, said: “Essentially, we are matching 25 mentors with 25 girls to help engage them with community activities, school work, or whatever they enjoy.

YMCA Newark (47937687)
YMCA Newark (47937687)

“The aim is to prevent mental health issues and that is why it is a younger group, starting from nine to 14.

“We are approaching schools, community groups, social workers and charities and we are looking for girls who meet a criteria.

“It could be disengagement, a lack of role models, aspects of disruption, or even if they are showing low confidence, then we will match them with a mentor (who has been trained by the YMCA).”

Asma Iqbal with Baroness Barran. (47937678)
Asma Iqbal with Baroness Barran. (47937678)

Mentors will meet up with their mentee regularly over a 12-month period, no more than once a week for two hours, offering an informal environment with the opportunity to discuss anything that might be worrying them, from family and personal relationships, to lifestyle and education.

Minister for Civil Society Baroness Barran MBE visited the YMCA’s Community and Activity Village, off Bowbridge Road, to show support for the charity’s programme launch.

Baroness Barran was given a full tour of the village, while learning about the Y’s Girls mentoring scheme.

She said: “There is something very special about a relationship between a mentee and a mentor, and one of the very special things here (at Newark’s activity village) is the access to everything on offer.

Baroness Barran (47937681)
Baroness Barran (47937681)

“We can’t always predict the way lives are going to go, but the principal is that we want our children to be resilient and that is something every parent would want, so it is a very positive thing.”

Nottinghamshire YMCA Group chief executive Craig Berens said: “It was a real privilege to welcome Baroness Barran to our evolving YMCA Village to show her how we plan to transform the lives of young people and families across the region.

“With one-in-six children aged five to 16 in the UK now identified by NHS Digital as having a probable mental health condition, we are all too aware that mental health issues among this age range are rising dramatically.”

L-R YMCA Group CEO Craig Berens - Baroness Barran - Ys Girls Project Coordinator Asma Iqbal and YMCA Ambassador Veronica Pickering (47937684)
L-R YMCA Group CEO Craig Berens - Baroness Barran - Ys Girls Project Coordinator Asma Iqbal and YMCA Ambassador Veronica Pickering (47937684)

Plans for the charity village’s main building will accommodate youth training, education provisions, health and fitness facilities, a digital media suite, childcare spaces, and a community café.

Y’s Girls has been made possible by funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Tampon Tax Fund and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

To become a mentor or to learn more, visit: https://www.nottsymca.com/children-families/ys-girls/

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