Hundreds of children in care and from a disadvantaged background across Glasgow are to be paired with volunteer mentors as a pioneering charity expands to cover all the city’s secondary schools.

MCR Pathways already operates in 15 Glasgow high schools, but will double that in a unique partnership with Glasgow City Council over the next 12 months. However the move has prompted calls for more would be mentors to come forward.

The programme pairs young people with experience of the care system, or facing other challenges with volunteers and it already works with more than 700 young people.

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The Council’s director of education Maureen McKenna backed the scheme in July after figures showed 81 per cent of the young people taking part went on to a job, college or university after school – compared with 49 per cent of disadvantaged young people in the city who do not have mentors. “Working with MCR Pathways has had an incredible impact on the positive destinations of the young people who’ve been mentored,” she said.

The council report found pupils taking part MCR Pathways achieved better results in literacy and numeracy and were more likely to stay on past the minimum school-leaving age. The “Talent-taster” programme helps participants raise their expectations and pursue their interests.

Afonso Cardoso arrived from Angola at the age of 15 as an asylum seeker and was paired with Network Rail surveyor Craig Thomson when he started at St Andrew’s Secondary. With Mr Thomson’s support he has now started a manufacturing engineering HNC on his way to becoming an engineer.

Afonso said: “It didn’t take long for us to find things in common. My confidence got a huge boost, so did my English skills. Craig always said ‘keep at it, we’ll find a solution, there is always a way’. Having someone there for you, someone believing in you, that’s what made the difference.”

Councillor Chris Cunningham, City Convener for Education, Skills & Early Years said: “The partnership between MCR Pathways and the council over the last 10 years has had an incredible impact on the lives of the young people who’ve been mentored or been a part of the talent tasters. But the charity in partnership with the council now needs to rapidly expand its pool of mentors, he said. In January , Glasgow City Council set a target of recruiting up to 10% of council employees as mentors.

Iain MacRitchie, Founder of MCR Pathways, said volunteer mentors were the key to its success, including winning the People Make Glasgow award at the Herald’s Inspiring City Awards earlier this month. “This is based on the fantastic variety of mentors we have of all ages, professions, jobs and backgrounds. Mentoring relationships can have a profound impact on everyone involved. [Mentors] will themselves experience a life changing difference,” he said.