A MENTORING programme that works to change the lives of some of Glasgow's most disadvantaged young people has received the backing of one of Scotland's highest-profile institutions.

MCR Pathways has joined forces with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to further its aim of providing experienced mentors to work with young people who are in danger of falling out of education.

More than 200 people have signed up to be mentors with the scheme, which is backed by The Herald, and now the SFC has agreed to become a Pioneering Partner and encourage its staff to take part.

The programme, set up by Glasgow-born entrepreneur Iain MacRitchie, links young people with adults who can help them as they re-engage with school, find their way into the workplace or take up a place in further or higher education.

Mentors provide one-to-one help to pupils from one of six Glasgow schools, steering them towards a path which will help them achieve their life goals and be productive members of society.

The agreement with SFC is a major step as it is the first national organisation to officially come on board and ask its staff to volunteer through a corporate social responsibility scheme that will allow people to become MCR Pathway mentors.

Laurence Howell, SFC chief executive, said: "SFC staff have responded to the chance MCR Pathways gives to be involved in changing people's lives.

"We all want this experience to benefit young people and to enrich the way we make policies and invest in widening educational opportunities for young people in Scotland and their futures."

Current prospects for the most disadvantaged are not good and remain fundamentally unchanged despite investment and policy commitments from government.

Around 85 per cent of children who have experience of the care environment leave school on or before their 16th birthday, and less than two per cent go to university.

But mentoring can make a real difference in their lives by providing a structure through which committed volunteers build relationships, offer a listening ear and share knowledge to provide a foundation for better educational achievement, improved learning and a positive school experience.

Mr Howell said: "We believe that lives can be changed through MCR Pathways - it's important that people (no matter who they are, where they work, what they do) and other organisations understand and respond to this and get involved.

"We are hoping our example will encourage others and we are going to be launching our participation across the sector to actively encourage our partner organisations to join us."

SFC mentors will be trained and working with youngsters in Glasgow's east end by January.

Mr MacRitchie said: "SFC's wholehearted adoption of MCR Pathways mentoring at all levels throughout the organisation is an inspiring and very significant precedent that has been set.

"We have a powerful blend of immediate impact and one that will inform long-term policy and practice changes.

"The response from SFC staff has been amazing."

Nicole Quinn, who has been mentored through MCR Path-ways, attended a ceremony to launch SFC as an MCR Pathways Pioneering Partner.

She said: "I am delighted that an education leader like SFC is sending its staff into schools to support young people who need that extra interest, support and adult life skills invested in them to support their education and future life pathway.

"More individual pioneers and organisational pioneering partners are being sought, so why not join us?"