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Light in the Black Country

A SCHEME in Wolverhampton bridges the generation gap bringing young people at risk together with adults who are willing to listen to their problems.

Richard Clarke, the manager of the project run by the National Assocition for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, said it was a "two-way street" - giving support to clients and providing valuable experience for mentors, most of whom are seeking careers in youth work.

The efforts of the mentors, aged 18 to 55 and usually assigned to a specific young person, have led to 60 per cent of young offenders turning their back on crime.

Help has included directing young people toward drugs counselling and working with them on family relationships.

Mentors have also been involved in acting as mediators between schools and young people who are at risk of exclusion.

Mr Clarke said: "The schools were sceptical about the idea to start with but now they seem to positively welcome it."

Other projects have included an education scheme helping young people to get back into learning, in some cases re-studying for school exams they have failed.

Funding comes from the Department of Health, Wolverhampton council and Wolverhampton Community Safety, an organisation which works to prevent youth crime.

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