Gez Lawson, Head of Programmes
Gez’s expertise is in peer education and peer-based learning. He joined Mentor’s Scotland office in July 2010, managing the Peer Education Alcohol Project, which supported young people delivering alcohol education across Scotland. From this he went on to develop a volunteering programme enabling young people from the Lothians to become peer educators, delivering drug and alcohol workshops in communities.
In 2011, Gez began developing the Breaking Out Peer Alcohol Project, which supports young offenders with alcohol issues within HMPYOI Polmont. The Bottle Project, a community-based programme engaging young people at risk of offending in drug and alcohol education and personal development, emerged from this work. Gez is currently developing a holistic life-skills programme that will help young people in need of extra support develop the skills, knowledge and attitudes they need to lead healthy lifestyles.
Gez began his career working as a residential social worker, supporting children with learning difficulties and severe behavioural problems. He has worked with homeless teenagers in hostel and tenancy support environments and as Volunteer’s Manager at Fast Forward, developing projects that engage vulnerable and hard to reach young people. Gez is passionate about working with young people because he remembers the people that had a positive impact on his life during a turbulent youth. His goal is to help young people in difficult situations find the support they need. Email Gez.
Debra Anderson, Development Manager
Debra has worked with Mentor in our Scotland office since 2015. Before taking up the position of Development Manager, Debra was a Project Manager for Real-Life Skills and prior to that the Senior Project Officer for the highly successful Breaking Out Project, based at HMPYOI Polmont. Breaking Out delivered alcohol education and peer education training to young offenders at Polmont and saw Mentor forging close working partnerships with the SPS Community Safety Unit, Police Scotland and the SPS Lifeskills Unit. Since completing the Breaking Out project in late 2018, Debra has worked on developing a pilot for a new alcohol and drug education programme, ‘Real-life Skills’. This will run in schools, Pupil Referral Units and alternative provision arrangements in Blackpool from January 2019.
Debra spent 20 years working predominantly with adults entrenched in addiction. She made the decision to take this training and experience and invest it in improving opportunities for young people at risk of alcohol and drug related harm. She has a background as a practitioner in drug treatment in community and custody settings and has worked with individuals who have multiple and complex needs. She has qualifications in various fields, including Community Education, Mental Health and Addictions. Email Debra.
Elizabeth Hurst-High, Policy and Communications Manager
Elizabeth joined Mentor in July 2018. She arrived in the Scotland office fresh from completing a PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews. Her thesis investigated how inter-generational and family relationships shape how children and adults learn and develop their ideas and values. Elizabeth has taught at the University of St Andrews and the University of Edinburgh. Prior to returning to academic study in 2012, she spent time in Edinburgh working as fundraising coordinator for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and a media monitor at Press Data, Ltd. Elizabeth has also spent time living in the United States (where she studied at the University of Pennsylvania as a Thouron Fellow) and working in Canada and Germany. She is passionate about education, politics and social justice. Email Elizabeth.
Richard Lynas, Programme and Research Manager (ADEPIS)
Richard joined Mentor in 2016, and is our programme manager for ADEPIS and CAYT. He has worked in the third sector for 25 years and for six years in substance misuse and prevention. Following a degree in Applied Psychology, Richard moved to Romania where he worked with a national substance abuse charity. He has been trained in addiction care by the De Hoop Foundation and in the therapeutic community approach by Portage Canada.
Richard has a background in international development and global health and has worked internationally in numerous programmes, research and monitoring and evaluation roles with FRODO, Merlin, Save the Children and the Prince’s Trust. Prior to joining Mentor, Richard was a research and teaching assistant at the University of Ulster, and worked as a programme manager at Media Trust. In his spare time Richard is completing a PhD in positive youth psychology and working with another charity aiming to bring an end to child institutions in Sri Lanka. In 2012 Richard was selected to carry the Olympic torch in recognition of his work in this area. Email Richard.
Amanda Hood, Office Manager
Amanda joined Mentor in May 2011 after working in the public and local government sector. She is responsible for day to day running of the office and making payments etc. Amanda works four day per week and when she is not in London she enjoys travelling around Europe as well as attempting to make her flowers and vegetables grow! Email Amanda.
Kate Holley, Marketing and Communications Officer
Kate joined Mentor in June 2018 after spending three years as a senior editor for the MailOnline video news desk. She has over ten years experience in video production and multimedia storytelling for television, advertising and corporate endeavours. Her work as a video editor and documentary developer includes titles such as Channel 4’s The Undateables, Dispatches and The Joy of Teen Sex. She has also worked as a video content develop for Apple. Kate is passionate about social justice, global politics and the promotion of lifesaving information. She also teaches Media Law and Ethics to undergraduates at Goldsmiths University, London. Email Kate.
Connor McNally, Project Officer
Connor began working at Mentor’s Scotland office in November 2016 as a Project Officer on the Families Together project. Since then he has been involved in the development of After School Clubs and the Men’s Kinship Care Group in partnership with the Big Hearts Kinship Care Programme. He has also been working with groups of children and young people in East and West Lothian, organising activity programmes that provide safe, creative and appropriate play opportunities.
Connor is currently developing Mentor’s Men’s Kinship Care Group (Men Who Care). This group is a diverse community of Male Kinship Carers from in and around the Edinburgh area. Connor facilitates the opportunity for these carers to socialise and support each other as they navigate being involved in a Kinship family. He organises monthly meet up events at museums, parks, sporting events and other venues around Edinburgh.
Since graduating with a degree in Sports Development fifteen years ago, Connor has worked across North-West England, London and Edinburgh using sport and physical activity as a tool to help foster positive behaviour. He is passionate about promoting the wider positive outcomes of good physical health, especially for people affected by depression and anxiety. Connor hopes to create increased awareness around these issues amongst families in and around Edinburgh. Email Connor.
Sandra Henderson, Project Officer
Sandra started working for Mentor in January 2016 as one of the project officers for Families Together. She now works primarily on our kinship care work in Scotland. Email Sandra.
Ian Macdonald – ADEPIS Consultant
Ian’s interest in health education and policy began while studying a BSc in Sports Sciences and MA Sport and Culture, resulting in a varied career working across the education, public and voluntary sectors. This has included roles within young person’s substance misuse services, the commissioning and delivery of public health services, and teaching in further and higher education settings.
Ian has been involved with the implementation of high profile initiatives such as the National Healthy Schools and You’re Welcome programmes, and devised a variety of CPD programmes for teachers and the wider young person’s workforce. He has also developed resource packs for schools based on drugs, alcohol and energy drinks. Ian previously taught public health at undergraduate and masters levels, and currently holds a role with the Open University, teaching on their sport and fitness degree programmes.
John Rees – ADEPIS Consultant
John is passionately committed to enhancing the life chances of children and young people, through school improvement and by supporting the professional development of individuals and organisations. Having taught for 12 years, latterly as a senior leader, John lead the transformation of APAUSE, a schools-based sex and relationships education programme from a 2-school research project into an effective multi-agency programme with unique evidence of health benefit and educational improvement.
John became an independent educational consultant in 2006, and has enjoyed repeat commissions with a range of Local Authorities across the UK and overseas, supporting health and educational improvement.