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Maths with surrogate brother

BATTERY salesman Mark Forrest was nervous about his first mentoring meeting as a volunteer with Chance UK.

In the five months since he decided to be a "surrogate brother", he had been vetted, trained and matched by the Islington-based project. Then he and 11-year-old Michael McCarthy were sitting together filling in a Chance UK ice-breaker form.

"This form was a list of questions like your favourite music, your football team," said Mark. "We really hit it off very well."

Since then Mark, 34, has taken Michael swimming, to the cinema and on trips with the other children and mentors in the project. And he has also helped Michael with his maths.

Michael's mother Noreen said: "Michael has changed. He was in trouble and used to get expelled from school.

"I was very worried about him. Now he speaks out more and seems happier."

The mentoring was extended to cover Michael's move to secondary school in September but has now ended, although Mark still meets Michael occasionally.

Learning mentors prized, Analysis, 26, 27

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