Le Cheile Mentoring sees 28% drop in reoffending amongst teenagers

‘Reducing Youth Crime in Ireland’ report shows a four-times plus return on investment into Le Chéile programme.

Reducing Youth Crime in Ireland

Young people who have fallen into crime reduce reoffending by 28% on average over the period of mentoring, a major report into Le Chéile’s State and EU funded programme has revealed.

The ‘Reducing Youth Crime in Ireland’ report is based on a detailed evaluation of the Le Chéile volunteer mentoring programme and its activities over the period 2013-2015. The report has also shown also that for every euro spent on the programme, €4.35 is returned in social and economic benefits. This includes benefits such as avoiding detention, better health and engagement in education.

The research was carried out by Dr Kieran O’Dwyer of KC Consulting – an independent research, evaluation and consultancy service.

According to the report, of the 28% reduction in reoffending during the period of being mentored, 49% can be directly attributed to mentoring. It also revealed that the total value of Le Chéile’s mentoring service in 2015 was €4,755,614 and cost at €1,093,647, giving a return on investment of €4.35 for every euro. It found that mentoring has significant positive impacts for young people over a range of areas, with the biggest gains made in self-confidence, hopefulness, communications, engagement in activities and, crucially, offending behaviour.

Le Cheile Mentoring is a one-to-one relationship-based support service in which volunteers from local communities provide a positive role model to a young person by acting as an advisor and friendly support. It also now delivers parent mentoring to offer parents support and help in managing their child’s offending behaviour.

Commenced in 2005 in Coolock, Le Chéile, which partners with the Probation Services to reduce youth offending behaviour in the community, is the first mentoring programme for young offenders in the country and today operates in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Clare, South Tipperary, Midlands, Waterford, Meath, with the objective now to expand it to other locations.

In 2015 it mentored 152 young people aged 12 to 21 as well as 49 parent mentees, with volunteers giving 3,678 hours of their personal time to the young people and their parents.

One of the key recommendations in the report was that, given the high social return from mentoring, Le Chéile should continue to be resourced and expanded to regions in Ireland where there is unmet or latent demand.

For young person mentees, key benefits also include:
•      Reductions in offending behaviour (average 28%, with attribution of nearly half to mentoring);
•      Reductions in alcohol (12%) and drug use (16%);
•      Improved self-confidence (25%), hopefulness (25%), and happiness (23%);
•      Greater involvement in activities outside the home (28%);
•      Greater involvement or reengagement in education, work and training (25%);
•      Improved communication skills (24%);
•      Moving away from negative peers (9% improvement in relationship with peers), and
•      Improved relationships with parents (11%), other family (8%), & persons in authority (23%).

Minister of State for Justice with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration, and Integration, David Stanton welcomes this report and stated: “I was very interested to hear about this independent evaluation of Le Cheile’s mentoring service and I commend them for commissioning it. The evaluation points to the positive benefits and value of mentoring for young offenders which is good to hear having regard to the ongoing investment by the Government in mentoring for young offenders. The reported benefits include reductions in drugs and alcohol use and offending rates and improved communication skills, relationships with parents, family, peers and persons in authority. I was particularly interested to hear about the reported average 28% drop in offending given the international experience referred to in the evaluation about mixed results in relation to the positive impacts of mentoring on offending rates.”

Probation Service Director, Vivian Geiran, commented, “Mentoring has always been a key part of probation work. The relationship between a trained and skilled mentor and a young person can play a crucial part in helping a young person on probation to turn their life around and stay out of the criminal justice system. That is why Le Chéile is such a significant partner in our work with young people. I welcome this report and we look forward to further building on and developing that partnership working into the future.”

Said CEO of Le Chéile Anne Conroy, “This report is a very significant evaluation that validates the investment in mentoring programmes and essentially sets out a case for expanding mentoring to other areas of the country. We are delighted also to see the evaluation quantify for the first time the positive impacts on soft skills areas such as communication skills and self-confidence, which are fundamental skills to empower our young people to progress to a better future.”

“We are indebted to the support we get from the Probation Service but, ultimately, we are most indebted to our mentors for not just the time they give but the sensitive way they go about their work. In many cases they are the first adults to give this type of one-one support to these teenagers. We know from mentors that they, too, get a reward from participating in the programme in that they are making a very significant contribution to society. We do, however, need more volunteers, both men and women, to come forward and would appeal to anyone out there who has the desire to make a difference to and help turn around the lives of even one young person to contact us. Comprehensive training and support is provided.”

Le Chéile is funded by the Irish Youth Justice Service through the Probation Service, as part of Ireland’s European Structural and Investment Funds Programme 2014-2020, which is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Union.


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