This research report and evidence guide provide recommendations to help improve the design and delivery of youth mentoring programmes, and summarises the existing evidence base.

Youth mentoring schemes (also known as ‘inter-generational mentoring’) are goal-orientated programmes of support, practical skills and advice. Although such programmes have been around for many years, over the last decade they have become of increasing interest to policymakers, charities and schools. Mentoring programmes can improve outcomes across academic, behavioural, emotional and social areas of young people's lives.

There is a large body of research, policy, and comment on youth mentoring schemes. Despite this, there is very little evidence about whether such programmes work and, if so, what makes them effective.

Our research, in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, found that better outcomes are associated with:

  • Longer mentoring periods and frequent contact. However, short-term relationships can be successful if there is a specific goal, such as helping the mentee apply for a job. Having clear goals is important.
  • A high level of commitment from the mentor and regular contact with the mentee. It can damage the relationship if there is no formal introductory period, or if the mentor shows a lack of commitment and is seen as too busy or does not understand the mentee's needs.
  • Shared backgrounds or similar personalities between mentor and mentee, including shared cultures, beliefs, attitudes, values and interests.
  • Mentee choice in the matching process. Giving agency to young people means longer relationships and better outcomes
  • Mentees with motivation. However, those with the highest social risk (e.g. risk of detention, substance misuse and so on) are the least likely to engage in mentoring programmes.

We have produced an evidence guide, which you can browse by clicking the red buttons below, or download the full research report at the top of the page. These resources are aimed at people who are thinking of setting up or commissioning a youth mentoring scheme, delivering youth mentoring, or examining the role of these programmes as part of wider children and young people’s policy.