West Midlands 1-2-1 mentoring project

Posted on Monday 22nd November 2010

Key evaluation findings of the West Midlands 1-2-1 Mentoring Project

This report was written by Dr Basia Spalek and Professor Lynn Davies from the University of Birmingham who were commissioned by the WM 1-2-1 mentoring project board to undertake an independent evaluation of the scheme.

Full report: Key Evaluation Findings of the West Midlands (WM) 1-2-1 Mentoring Scheme (pdf; opens in new window)

Executive Summary: The West Midlands (WM) 1-2-1 Mentoring Scheme: An independent evaluation by the University of Birmingham (pdf; opens in new window)

Increasingly, within policy and practice contexts, overlaps between responding to the perpetrators of terrorism and responding to the perpetrators of hate crime are being acknowledged.  Added to this, the increasing use of the notion of violent extremism suggests increasing  linkages between researching and responding to terrorism and hate crime, for the notion of violent extremism can capture both.  Whilst there is considerable, and growing, research examining various programmes and initiatives aimed at the de-radicalisation and rehabilitation of terrorist and other extremist offenders in the EU, North America and the Middle East, the vast majority of this research does not give much attention to the notion of mentoring.  This piece of research focuses upon the specific question of what the role of mentoring is in relation to the prevention of violent extremism, and the rehabilitation of violent extremists, where the notion of violent extremism serves to capture both terrorism and terrorism-related offences alongside the perpetration of hate crimes.

This research study is an evaluation of the WM 1-2-1 mentoring project. The WM 1-2-1 project has arisen out of a concern that there is a shortage of easily accessible and quality assured, accredited and vetted mentors who can provide one-to-one support to people assessed to be at risk of violent extremism.  The study’s findings suggest that mentors use both a befriending and interventionist approach; that mentoring should represent a safe space to discuss issues which includes a consideration of ethics, empathy and trust between mentor and client; and that it is important for there to be a diverse range of mentors so as to match wide-ranging clients with appropriate mentors.  The study also highlights a number of possible challenges to the mentoring process.  For example, there are wide-ranging views on how success might be measured and conceptualised; on whether mentoring styles should be hard and confrontational or soft and empathetic, and when which is appropriate, and for whom; whether with AQ extremists, this is a purely theological concern which can be solved with theological arguments; and the extent of supervision and support of mentors.  At the same time, because mentoring is something that in the UK has traditionally taken place informally, on an ad hoc basis often involving community members responding to the needs of individuals they encounter in their daily lives, the current policy movement towards the professionalization of mentoring in relation to violent extremism presents a number of key challenges.