The impact and effectiveness of mentoring projects with unaccompanied minors

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Social Work and Social Policy


This research will look at the impact and effectiveness of mentoring programmes for unaccompanied minors, as little is known about this growing phenomenon. Much has been written in academic circles about the vulnerability of unaccompanied minors and the psychosocial effects that forced migration has on the development of children and young people. Less has been written about the capacity of unaccompanied minors to respond to challenging life circumstances with resilience. Mentoring programmes for unaccompanied minors are used as an intervention strategy to provide social support and to help with integration. The overall aim of this research is to look at the impact of mentoring programmes from three different perspectives:
-Examine how mentoring shapes the experiences of unaccompanied minors in building resilience, empowering them to exercise agency and helping integrate them into the community.
-Look at the factors that contribute to a successful mentoring relationship.
-Consider how organisations measure the success of mentoring programmes and will address the following questions:
-How does mentoring create agency and build resilience among unaccompanied minors?
-To what extent does mentoring help build social capital, tackle social isolation and loneliness and promote social integration among unaccompanied young people?
-What factors contribute to a successful mentoring relationship and how do mentors benefit from the relationship?
-How do organisations measure the success of mentoring programmes, what indicators do they use and are these systematic across different organisations?

Organisations such as the Scottish Guardianship Service, Aberlour and The Red Cross all run mentoring projects with unaccompanied minors in Glasgow and will be approached as key partners in research recruitment. Negotiating access to young people may be problematic, particularly if it is done via statutory services. In their study of how local authorities deal with unaccompanied minors, Rigby et al. reveal a reluctance of statutory organisations to engage. For that reason, a mixture of both statutory and third sector organisations will be approached to participate in this research.

Qualitative research will be conducted through participatory action research (PAR) with unaccompanied minors. PAR will allow for relationship building, increased engagement and collaboration with young people. Since there are a small number of unaccompanied minors in Scotland, the project will be engaging 15-20 unaccompanied minors across different mentoring programmes to ensure a diverse pool. PAR, which has been used previously with unaccompanied minors, will be used including group discussions, creative activities and 1 to 1s with young people. This will involve several meetings with the young people, to build rapport and trust, and develop an in-depth understanding of their experiences of mentoring. Attrition is inevitably problematic and a risk assessment in the initial stages of the research will outline strategies to deal with possible dropouts. Semi-structured interviews with peer mentors will explore similar themes, looking at the experience of mentors and factors impacting the success of the mentoring relationship. Interviews with project support staff will explore how organisations measure the success of mentoring programmes, looking at what indicators are used to do so and examples of good practice.

Analysis will identify common themes using a resilience framework. Resilience theory posits that protective factors can reduce the exposure to adversity. Theories of resilience will be used to consider whether mentoring builds resilience, builds social capital, reduces loneliness, increases agency and sense of personal control and increases participation. Theory of Change will be used as an overarching theoretical framework to map the outcomes of mentoring.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000681/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2434327 Studentship ES/P000681/1 01/10/2020 31/03/2024 Laureen Walker