ON THE GROUND: Talented Futures

Scheme: A programme to attract and train mentors for young people aged 10-25 from deprived backgrounds, many of whom are from ethnic minority communities. The scheme runs in Bradford, London, Leeds, Portsmouth, Northampton and Glasgow

Funding: Received £1.5 million over three years from the Millennium Commission, which will be divided between the six projects

Objectives: To break down ethnic barriers and provide emotional support to young people experiencing bullying at school, learning difficulties and problems with drugs and the crime.

Last summer, Bradford's predominately Asian Girlington estate was rocked by racial violence. One local police officer attributed the trouble to a small number of Asian youths whose rioting overshadowed the success of grassroots community projects such as the mentoring scheme Talented Futures.

Founded two years ago by young people's charity RPS Rainer, the scheme is based at the Bradford Police Club for Young People in Girlington. The project, one of six in the country, has recruited 65 mentors to act as role models for vulnerable young people. More than half the mentors are from ethnic minority backgrounds and are usually paired with young people from the white community.

Kewal Singh Kaddra, 45, gave up running his own business to start working for a youth offending team. He has mentored seven boys in his spare time over the past two years. The children, aged between 12 and 16, were initially cautious of him. "It took two or three months for them to get used to me,

says Kaddra. "They weren't used to being with someone with a different face to their own."

Kaddra first got involved with the scheme to gain experience of youth work but admits to getting a lot out of seeing the boys gain confidence and cites the example of one 12-year-old boy who was so shy that he couldn't express himself.

"Two years on, you can hardly shut him up,

he says.

Every other Sunday, he takes three or four boys cycling. Often the teenagers will call him at home if they have a particular problem. If someone admits that they are being bullied, Kaddra encourages them to speak to their teachers and parents. If he feels that things are getting really bad, he will visit the parents himself and ask them to take action.

Under the scheme, mentors must be over 18 and don't have to be in employment.

After mentoring for two six-month blocks, they receive a BTEC Level 3 qualification and a £500 grant to be put towards a community cause.

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