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Referral Questions

If you are a professional supporting a young person who might benefit, please chat to them and their family about a potential future application for volunteer mentoring and ensure this is something they would all like to do. Work through our referral checklist to ensure the criteria are met.

When applications to refer to this service are open, teachers and other professionals can:

  • Email
  • Include your name and full contact details including a daytime phone number
  • Include the name of your organisation e.g. school if you represent one
  • Include the initials (NOT full name) and date of birth and gender of the young person you wish to refer
  • Confirm that you have completed the referral checklist and they meet criteria (there is no need to attach it).

We reserve the right to reject applications to refer which do not include all the above information.

When applications to refer to this service are open, families and young people wanting to self-refer can:

  • Email
  • Include your name and full contact details including a daytime phone number
  • Let us know that this is a family or self referral application
  • Include the initials (NOT full name) and date of birth and gender of the young person who wants to be mentored
  • Confirm that you consent if you are the young person, and the parent/carer consents if under 18
  • Confirm that you have completed the referral checklist and the young person meets criteria (there is no need to attach it).

If you need support completing the application or using email, please call us during the application period, or seek help from the young person’s school or another trusted adult. 

You will need to use an email address to which we can send a reply that you’ll receive safely.

We are not currently open for new applications to refer young people aged 11 to 21 (year 7 and above – up to age 25 with a SEN diagnosis) for out of school mentoring. We aim to open regularly and will be in touch with referrers and families on our mailing list to let them know our next opening date.

 Please email if you would like to be added to the referral list and be advised of when we are next open for referrals. 


Our primary mentees are referred directly by the Behaviour & Attendance Panels which represent primary schools in Bath and Norton Radstock. If you’d like a 7-11 year old to be considered for volunteer mentoring in future, please speak to the child’s school headteacher.

When applications are open, we can also accept applications to refer for young adults aged 21-25 who meet the criteria below, have an early help need and have a confirmed clinical diagnosis of SEND.

Our total caseload in this age group is 30 at any one time. We usually open to applications to refer when we have 6 – 10 new places available.

When we open to new applications to refer, we accept them by email for a week-long period. We then randomly select the relevant number of young people in a blind ballot who will be assessed and invited to refer. An external professional supervises this to ensure fairness.

An application to refer will contain basic information about the young person and how they meet the criteria below. Successful applicants will be contacted for initial assessment, and if qualifying will be invited to make a full referral.

If these full referrals are not returned in time, or we later find that any of these young people do not meet criteria for this service, we may select additional young people by the same process from the original applications, and contact them to invite them to refer in full. This process will continue until the places are filled.

Young people must:

  • live within the county of Bath & NE Somerset
  • be able to benefit from a talking-based intervention
  • be actively interested in being mentored
  • be willing to commit for up to a year to meeting weekly in the community for 1-2 hours, to chat, reflect and do activities according to their own positive interests
  • have parent/carer consent to be mentored if under 18
  • consent (or have parent/carer consent if under 18) for relevant information to be shared with other agencies supporting the family, including schools.

They also need to meet at least 2 of the following criteria:

  • in or leaving care
  • disengaged from education or at potential risk of exclusion
  • not in education, employment or training (NEET)
  • facing difficulties out of school (e.g. family breakdown, family health issues, care responsibilities)
  • facing difficulties with emotional wellbeing (e.g. isolation, anxiety, low mood, risky behaviours, bullying)
  • displaying early signs of anti-social behaviour.

We are able to offer remote mentoring if restrictions do not permit face to face mentoring at any point. It is helpful if the young person is able and willing to maintain weekly contact with their mentor online or by phone in the event of future lockdown or isolation periods, subject to our safety rules, with family consent. However, we will not exclude those who may have issues accessing online mentoring.

All young people will need to follow our Covid-19 safety guidelines (as will mentors), which will be clearly explained and kept updated.

If the young person has significant health vulnerabilities, or family members in the same household do, which increase the risks of face to face mentoring or being driven in a mentor’s car (all subject to our safety rules) we will assess case by case whether we can safely mentor them face to face and discuss options if not.

This is a service part funded by a local authority commission. We need to ensure we do not duplicate other funding, and that those who need it most can access volunteer mentoring. If the young person has an EHCP, they may be able to access mentoring more quickly via our EHCP-funded mentoring service. Young people with EHCPs may be referred for volunteer mentoring, but please be aware we will need to explore with you whether there are funds available for this alternative service. To discuss our EHCP-funded service, please email

Because we have only limited capacity and we know demand for mentoring is very high, we have to find a way to choose young people as fairly as possible. Previous feedback on our application to refer and ballot process highlighted that it is a fair and accessible process for all referrers, including families and self-referrals.

As an early help service, mentoring really benefits young people who are showing signs of difficulties but are not yet at the point of crisis. Young people are also working with volunteers, and we have to make sure we accept mentees who can be safely supported by a trained volunteer, rather than a professional.

So even if we could be sure about who had the highest needs, we couldn’t use this to select young people. Our alternative services to support young people with higher needs may be suitable, and we signpost to other organisations too.

We are also accepting a small number of referrals for volunteer mentoring from the BathNES Early Help Panel, which supports families needing help but who do not meet social care thresholds. These mentees tend to be at the highest levels of need we can support with a volunteer mentor.

Our professional mentoring service offers all the same benefits of volunteer mentoring but is delivered by paid staff who can support greater levels of need or more complex situations. There is a fee for this support which is often covered from a young person’s EHCP. 

We limit schools to a maximum of 3 applications each, and other organisations e.g. charities to 2 applications each, to help ensure fairness. Each application relates to just one young person, so each individual has the same chance of being selected in the ballot.

The first applications received will be added to the ballot, so we ask referrers to communicate within their organisations to decide internally who they wish to refer.

As long as we receive an application, there is an equal chance for that young person to be selected in the ballot and invited to make a full referral. We need to ask referrers to make sure that they don’t overlook any young people who might benefit, being inclusive to all backgrounds, heritage and different types of need.

Over the last few years we’ve supported a greater proportion of BAME young people than are represented in our community as a whole. We’re not a specialist service for supporting young people with disabilities, but if an individual can fully benefit from mentoring without significant extra resources needed, we will work hard to ensure they can be included if possible. Many of our young people are supported with learning and other difficulties such as dyslexia, ADHD etc.

We usually receive many fewer referrals for girls than boys. We continue to ask referrers to be aware of young people who may have significant challenges but present them in different ways, such as less vocally, so that their needs are not overlooked.

All being well, we hope to open for applications to refer regularly in future. More regular opening will mean smaller numbers accepted at a time, but this will help ensure young people accepted for mentoring have the shortest possible wait to be matched.

Once the process above is complete, we will not keep the other applications. Their data will be securely deleted.

We want young people, families and professionals to feel 100% clear who is being supported by Mentoring Plus and who is not, so there is no waiting list for those who are not successful in the ballot.

We will clearly communicate to everyone who has made an application what the outcome is, make suggestions for other services, and invite them to apply next time. If you are supporting a family to apply to refer, please help ensure they understand the full process.

We maintain our referrers’ mailing list so we can keep referrers and families updated about new referral opportunities. We will keep you on this list unless you choose to unsubscribe, and can add names on request.

Like all services, we are limited by budget as to how many people we can support. We have to ensure our practitioners have a caseload they can safely look after – even though the mentoring is done by volunteers, our professionals have to train and support them. A lot of practitioners’ work involves responding to safeguarding concerns and working with schools, families and other agencies to provide joined-up care and make sure the voice of the young person and family is heard.

We’re fortunate in BathNES that our local authority still funds preventative services like ours, and our council commission currently contributes over one-third of the total cost of the service. As a registered charity we work hard to fundraise for the rest, but our donations from businesses and community events reduced during lockdown.

If you’d like to see more capacity in services like ours, please help us spread the word about how important they are, influence decision-makers like councillors and MPs, and help raise funds for them. Please contact us if you’d like to help.

Got a question?

You can check out our FAQs and Volunteer Mentor Pack for more information or get in touch with our team, who are available Monday-Friday to tell you more about the Volunteer Mentor role.

Life for young people today can be incredibly challenging. Poor mental health, low self-esteem, anxiety, and loneliness are just some of the issues the young people we support are struggling with.

However, when you begin your journey with your mentee, all you'll know are the things that truly matter - their interests and the hopes they hold for the time they'll spend with you. You'll be a positive role model in their lives, making a difference one step at a time

Our mentees are usually referred by their school or family. Once they come to us, we work closely with them to ensure they genuinely want to be mentored and understand what’s involved. We spend a few weeks getting to know them, exploring what their hopes are for mentoring, where they need support and what their interests are.

What makes Volunteer Mentoring so successful and special, is that both mentor and mentee have chosen to be there. Our mentees know their Volunteer Mentor will support them without judgement or agenda, and time with their Volunteer Mentor is time when they can just be themselves, relax and have fun.

Mentee Questions

They might have been in a similar situation and talk about what worked for them, and ask what you think. Or they might ask questions which help you think about all the options and come up with your own answers. Mentors don't 'fix' things, but they can help make problems seem more manageable.