Strong, positive family ties are crucial to helping young people learn how to navigate the challenges they may face growing up, including those that can arise because of exposure to alcohol and other drugs. Mentor works with families of all shapes and sizes to support parents, carers and the children in their care.
We have expertise in working with kinship care families – particularly those in Scotland, where we have worked for over a decade. We work with carers to ensure they know their rights and entitlements and we support them through our ‘Kinship Connections’ to come to terms with the effects of trauma and bereavement on the children in their care. This is just the start, though! Along with our Edinburgh-based partners Big Hearts Community Trust, we provide after-school clubs, carers groups and holiday activities for kinship care families. These activities give kinship care families a much-needed chance to kickback and enjoy their time together. Most importantly, they become spaces where children can re-discover their trust in the world, at the same time as creating brilliant family memories. In the long-run, our kinship care work helps kinship carers to provide the best possible support to the children in their care and builds the confidence of children who may have already experienced trauma or been exposed to substance misuse at a young age.
Mentor also provides advice to parents about talking to their children about alcohol and other drugs. We know from speaking to parents that many find it difficult to broach this topic. Some even worry that if they talk to their children, especially about illegal substances, they might ‘normalise’ drug use. Young people have told us that they want to be able to have open, honest and trusting conversations about the risks of substance use with the adults closest to them. And, because our work is grounded in evidence, we know that those conversations need to be informed ones if they are to make a difference. We are here to help parents feel and be prepared. In addition to the advice available on our website, we are developing training and support for parents to complement our work with young people.