Bottle Project (Me & You)

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Demographic: young people aged 14-17
Delivery setting: communities

Years active: 2015 - present
Contact email: gez.james@mentoruk.org
Keywords: alcohol; youth; peer education; communities; Scotland

 

Theory of Change for Bottle Project:

  1. Bottle Project provides young people with the skills, knowledge and experience that enable them to make the right choices around alcohol and drugs misuse.
  2. This means that young people will be informed and confident when taking decisions around drugs and alcohol.
  3. By educating young people at risk we will reduce their potential for harm and ultimately support them in reaching their full potential.

 

What is the Bottle Project?

bottle-transp.png Mentor’s commitment to evidence-based practice in building young people’s resilience and supporting their overall health and well-being has resulted in the development of the Bottle Project, a peer-led programme that aims to build resilience to risks – particularly alcohol misuse and offending behaviour – and to foster healthy ambition, determination and a sense of community among participants.

Research has shown that peer-led learning is particularly effective among vulnerable and socially excluded young people who do not engage with formal education, supported by Mentor’s own work with the peer-driven alcohol education programme Breaking Out, from which Bottle developed.

Mentor reached over two hundred young offenders in Her Majesty’s Young Offenders Institution in Polmont over the past three years through Breaking Out – Mentor now seeks to bring this learning to community settings across south Edinburgh, positively influencing young people before alcohol-related and offending behaviours develop.

Like Breaking Out, young people have ownership over Bottle; they will take on responsibility for delivering, developing and driving the project forward, generating a vitality and resonance that is only possible when young people are at the helm.

Why the project is needed

In Oxgangs, where Mentor Scotland is based, and other areas of south Edinburgh, many young people are only loosely attached to school, have chaotic home lives, and therefore are susceptible to a range of interconnected negative risks, including alcohol and drug misuse, violence and criminal behaviour.

Bottle workshops will be guided by the needs of the participants, exploring issues identified by young people themselves: alcohol and the body, sexual health, risk-taking behaviour and harm reduction.

In giving young people a safe space to explore the issues that are important to them without fear of becoming unpopular among their peers, Bottle will give more young people the confidence to make positive lifestyle choices as a result of increased self-esteem and resilience.

How the project works

  • Training: Four Mentor Team Leaders will recruit young Mentors (aged 15-21) to undertake an initial 12-week training course, including the delivery of one-off alcohol workshops in schools and youth settings in their local area.
  • Delivery: Once they have gained experience of facilitating workshops, Mentors will be supported to deliver a six-week alcohol and health intervention to young people aged 14-17 with an aim to building confidence, developing group-work and communication skills, and improving knowledge around alcohol-related risk-taking behaviour.
  • Development: After the first six weeks, participants will have the opportunity to continue their development by undertaking a further four-week programme, which will focus on developing the knowledge, skills and confidence to become Peer Educators.
  • Leadership: Peer Educators will then shadow Mentors until they are fully prepared to deliver their own peer-led workshops to groups of young people in their local communities.
  • Evaluation: All our training and workshops are evaluated using tools developed by an independent evaluator during the Breaking Out project.

Scaling what works

From the ranks of Mentors, ‘Stars’ will emerge – young people who want to contribute to the development of the Bottle Project. Stars will be encouraged to identify issues specific to their community and to develop new tools to address them, thus taking ownership of the project. Stars will be supported by the Volunteer Coordinator to form a Development Group, meeting once a month to assess feedback, refine programme content, and oversee the expansion of the project. In the final year of the project, the Development Group will use their learning to create a toolkit for delivering alcohol education in youth settings. The toolkit will be piloted and evaluated in Oxgangs, before being made available to practitioners on Mentor’s website and through partner organisations.

The cascading ‘Team Leader-Mentor-Peer Educator’ approach will enable Bottle to reach large numbers of young people; the project is eminently scalable, depending on the availability of funds and volunteers. In the first year, we aim to train 16 Mentors and 32 Peer Educators, engaging a minimum of 250 young people in peer-led alcohol and health edcuation workshops. In Years Two and Three, we anticipate that numbers will grow exponentially.

Accreditation

During the project, Mentors and Peer Educators will have the opportunity to gain accreditation through the Dynamic Youth Awards (DYA). From previous projects, we know that recognised accreditation is highly valued by young people who may have achieved few qualifications at school. DYA accreditation is a real boost to self-esteem and can act as a springboard towards further education, volunteering or employment opportunities.

Want to find out more? Contact Project Officer Gez Lawson at gez.james@mentoruk.org or by phone at 0131 334 8512