The centrepiece of our mission involves providing one-to-one mentoring to young people aged 9-14 who require support and advice to stay in education or employment in 10 primary and secondary schools across Croydon. 

A Mentor's Role

'Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.' (Eric Parsloe, The Oxford School of Coaching and Mentoring).

A mentor can have a significant influence in guiding young people already involved in criminal activities, or who at risk of such, onto the right path. By listening to their concerns and ambitions, a mentor can provide relevant advice to build up a mentee's confidence and help them find apprenticeships, a job, or move back into education. Not all young people learn or develop in the same way, and mentoring provides a tailored approach to help each young person with their individual needs and goals. The need for this support to keep young people in education is widely accepted, but also reaffirmed by reports such as that from the SedEC, which asserts that at least 50% of the UK's prison population were expelled from school.[1] By helping to reintegrate these young people into mainstream education, training or employment, mentoring stands as an effective strategy to help young people realise their potential, keep off the streets and, in turn, stay out of prison.


How does the programme work?

Our mentors will typically meet their mentees once a week for a period of at least one year. In this time they will develop a professional relationship with the mentee so they can offer support and deter these young people from making the same mistakes that they, or those around them, made when they were their age.  Collectively our mentors have experienced: social exclusion, have been victims and perpetrators of crime, are ex-gang members, have lost close friends to violent crime, as well as many other life experiences. In addition, they have also undertaken qualifications in Youth Work and Mentoring, and are trained with regard to Safeguarding and supporting young people. As a result our mentors play a valuable role as they have the knowledge to offer personal insights into the negative consequences of becoming involved in crime, as well as the ability to articulate this message in a way that their mentees will understand, listen to and engage with. While this mentoring can occur formally as part of this programme in schools, we also use our Youth Hub and Summer programmes as another vessel through which to get to know young people in the local community and support them to be as happy and successful as they can be. 

Our Mentees

All of the mentees that we work with have been referred to us because they need support to stay in education or employment. These young people all come from different circumstances and may need our help for a variety of reasons, with some having already suffered significant trauma in their lives. Many of the young people for example spend a lot of time in the school's isolation unit because of their behaviour, and thus our overarching aim is to help these children reintegrate into mainstream schooling. However a mentor can adopt a number of different roles depending on what the mentee needs help with. This could be anything from sitting alongside the mentee in lessons to support them in a subject they struggle with, to looking up apprenticeship schemes or having a private one-on-one chat about something they feel anxious about.


Our Mentors 

LNK has 6 trained mentors between the ages of 20-32. Collectively they have experienced: social exclusion, teen pregnancy, have been victims and perpetrators of crime, are ex-gang members, have lost close friends to violent crime, as well as many other life experiences. As a charity it is these members of staff that are our greatest asset, as they can use their lived experiences to effectively listen and communicate with young people and prevent them from making the same mistakes that they, or others around them, made when they were of similar age. 



Our mentoring programmes have been proven to have significant benefits for the young people that we work with and many of these professional relationships continue long after the allotted time period. Whilst every mentee has different issues, needs and ambitions, and thus every mentoring relationship is unique, over time we have witnessed the long-lasting benefits that mentoring can have for young people in South London. We even have had members of our team that have come directly through these programmes! Consequently we believe in our strategy, and are actively trying to expand these programmes to bring our services to an even greater audience so we can help to meet the needs of even more young people across the capital.  

"We are impressed with the impact LNK has had on student progress at Oasis Academy Shirley Park this year. LNK work with a range of students including supporting those who are struggling to engage in education and/or are facing social and emotional challenges. This includes working with children who are looked after, students with special educational needs and students who are struggling in and/or out of school. The mentors at LNK are skilled at supporting students in their understanding of the importance of learning and the need to be in school. They have been developing the reflection and decision making skills of students, as well as focusing on resilience. The students are supported emotionally and socially with challenges that they face in and out of school on a daily basis. The LNK mentors empower the students to make positive choices."

-Deborah Centre – DSEN Learning Zone leader 

"We support LNK on an ongoing basis because it is a unique programme that benefits not just the marginalised young people whose lives it transforms but also the wider community. London needs more work like this and we are proud to be associated with this excellent project"

-Laurence Guinness, Chief Executive, The Childhood Trust.

"I have had the pleasure of working in partnership with LNK for 3 years. During this time, I have seen many talented young people join the team and become qualified Youth Workers. At LNK every Youth Worker has a story… their “WHY”. Their knowledge and personal experience ignites a  passion for helping young people to achieve their goals and dreams through positive role modelling, choices and examples. They know how to have fun too!"

-Natalie Ramkissoon - JACE Training

Knife crime and Mentoring fact sheet

Information sheet for young people

Information for Parents