VRU's Mentors in Violence Prevention project to be rolled out across Scotland

The VRU’s pioneering Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Scotland project, which encourages participants to challenge aggressive and inappropriate behaviour, is to be rolled out to schools across Scotland thanks to £40k of government cash.

The project, currently being piloted at Portobello High School in Edinburgh and the joint campus of St Stephens’s and Port Glasgow High in Inverclyde, will be rolled out to Calderhead High School (North Lanarkshire), Peebles High School (Borders), Perth High School (Perth & Kinross) and Doon Academy (East Ayrshire) before being rolled out across Scotland next year.

Participants have already undergone a “train the trainers” programme which will enable them not just to implement the programme in their own school but also train other schools, enabling MVP to spread nationally.

Each school will then train its own specially recruited “peer mentors” – youngsters in their fourth, fifth and sixth years of school – who will in turn pass their knowledge on to other pupils.

Linda Park, headteacher at Calderhead  High, said:

MVP Scotland is a very exciting project and we’re delighted to be involved in something that will hopefully make a huge difference to levels of domestic abuse in Scotland. Sometimes people in a community don't know what to do or when to get involved when they see or hear something which makes them uncomfortable.  We believe the MVP programme could help empower our young people.

Stephen Parsons, headteacher at St Stephens High School, said:

On the evidence we’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending MVP to colleagues across Scotland. It’s had a real impact on the lives of young people at the school, who’ve taken ownership of the materials and methods involved and made it their own. They’ve shown a real commitment to the project and to making a difference by helping to reduce the behaviour that can lead to domestic abuse.

Rachel Barr, a school-based social worker based at Portobello High School who is taking part in the pilot scheme said:

Everyone at Portobello is very enthusiastic about taking part in something that will hopefully make a big difference to levels of domestic abuse. Peer pressure has a big influence on children’s behaviour and finding out your classmates have the same healthy attitudes to aggressive and inappropriate behaviour as you do can help pupils feel they have the ability to challenge such attitudes in a safe, positive way.

The roll out of MVP Scotland comes ahead of the domestic abuse phase of the VRU’s annual Anti-Violence Campaign which runs from December 2012 – January 2013. Police recorded 51,926 incidents of domestic abuse in Scotland during 2009 – 10.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

The Scottish Government has always been clear that there is no place for domestic abuse in Scotland, and tackling it is a top priority. I welcome this further roll out of the Mentors against Violence programme, giving young people the skills and confidence to recognise and safely challenge harassment and abuse.

Chief Inspector Graham Goulden, project lead for both MVP Scotland the VRU’s Anti-Violence Campaign, said:

We’re delighted that the Scottish Government and Education Scotland are helping us to rolling out MVP across Scotland – this shows a real commitment to reducing violence and the attitudes that lead to violence in the long term, as although the project is based in schools, its reach and impact is much wider. We deliberately chose a mix of teachers, youth workers and community members from each school for our ‘train the trainers’ events so the training would have reach beyond the school, into the community itself.  In addition, as the first groups of pupils mentors leave school and go on to college or workplaces, they will be able to continue to use what they have learned in a new environment, thus further helping change attitudes to aggression and inappropriate behaviour across Scotland.

While MVP won’t stop domestic abuse overnight, it will help make the behaviour that leads to it less acceptable. Those taking part in MVP now are helping create a legacy for future generations  - a better, safer Scotland for all.

Find out more about MVP Scotland