University of Sussex
Rana, Tasleem.pdf (1.51 MB)

Context is all: a qualitative case study of youth mentoring in the inner-city

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posted on 2023-06-09, 13:39 authored by Tasleem Rana
This project is an extended case study design investigating the mentoring programme of Kids Company, an innovative and controversial organisation that closed during fieldwork. The study considers the programme both as a case of the larger category of ‘youth mentoring’ as well as a case in itself – of a unique and situated intervention. Methods employed included participant observation and interviews with professional staff, as well as the analysis of a sample of mentoring records documenting the one-year relationship of six mentoring pairs from the perspective of the mentor. Plans to interview mentoring pairs were curtailed by the unexpected demise of the organisation, but the data set includes interviews with five new mentors and mentees. The project has developed from a collaborative studentship aimed at understanding the mentoring programme, to include a post mortem of an organisation in crisis. Thus, documentation by and about Kids Company during this very public downfall also forms part of the data set. The thesis organises its findings into three chapters with insights on the model of mentoring employed by Kids Company and the reliance of popularised ideas from attachment theory and neuroscience; insights into the mentoring relationships themselves, including the value of a middle stage of everyday ‘being there’; and critical insights into how Kids Company’s approach to young people and communities simultaneously takes on representations of race and class, yet elides them. The thesis draws together critical social policy and childhood studies literature on the history of child saving interventions and representations of the child in need within society, and psychology literature on youth mentoring initiatives, in order to make the argument that mentoring must be understood as an intervention situated in time and place. The messiness, complexity, and variety of youth mentoring experiences needs to be recognised. Nevertheless, youth mentoring also has potential to be powerful and productive for all involved and the thesis reflects on both the strengths and weaknesses of the Kids Company approach to make suggestions for good practice.


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University of Sussex

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