A MENTORING programme has been launched to help unaccompanied minors and refugees.

Bradford-based Mercy Mission has been training mentors from the North at the Faith Centre, off Thornton Road.

They include an assistant headteacher, a medical services director and a Bradford University lecturer, all of whom are giving their time voluntarily.

Kamran Siddique, from Mercy Mission, said the young people are mainly coming from Bradford College, which identified the need for mentoring for some of its new arrivals.

He said: “Our London programme is now live and Birmingham is soon to follow.

“The North region will be the final piece in the jigsaw.”

The key aims of the programme are to improve the academic achievement, self-esteem, social competence, and avoidance of problem or high-risk behaviour by providing a relationship with a caring adult friend who works to help the young person achieve their potential.

It’s primarily targeted towards young migrants, with mentors from various fields helping them become active British citizens.

The initiative is aimed at youngsters aged 15 to 18 who are currently in care, or just leaving care, and have experienced trauma due to sometimes treacherous journeys.

Mercy Mission says the programme offers a pathway out of foster care into adulthood and says it is a “key time” for any young person, whether they are in care or not or whether they are a migrant or local, to make life decisions about further education, career choices and exploring identity.

Mentors are being trained by experts to deliver the tailor-made programme, which includes a career day, where young people visit mentor workplaces, the creation of a video which will be entered into a national competition and ‘Real Project’, where the plan, deliver and evaluate a real-life project.

It’s hoped all involved will gain skills, with young people becoming more confident, thinking independently and becoming more active in their communities.

For more information about the programme and becoming a mentor, visit www.mercymission.org.uk/mentor.

In December last year, the University of Bradford became one of the first universities in the UK to be awarded “University of Sanctuary” status for its work dealing with refugees and asylum seekers.

The award recognises the university’s work to create a culture of welcome and inclusion, and came after five years of work.

Bradford is also classed as a City of Sanctuary.