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A band of brothers: helping young men grow with purpose

Words by Smiley Team

By Tom Barwell-Best

An award-winning charity – A Band of Brothers (ABOB) – is helping young men grow and develop, and improve their lives and the communities they live in.

The charity was born out of concern at the "continuing escalation of self-destructive and anti-social behaviour among young men", together with the realisation solutions could be achieved through local support.

So, how does it work? Well, central to all of their programmes is their mentor scheme. They recruit local adult men, train them with mentoring skills and encourage them to mentor young men in their community.

"Our mentors hail from very varied walks of life and currently include local businessmen, tradesmen, film makers, actors and even the Chief Executive of a large public company," they say.

"They act as role models for local young men who are experiencing difficult life situations and provide them with acknowledgement, challenge and a whole range of other coaching and support, both personal and practical, to enable them to turn their lives around."

ABOB provides mentoring for young men aged 18-25 at risk of being involved with, or who have already been involved with the criminal justice system. They take both self-referrals and referrals from family members, the police, the probation service, NHS, and other organisations.

This mentoring is given in the form of conversations on difficult topics; addiction, families and relationships as well as values and beliefs. The 12-week mentoring program is run by volunteers.

A night to remember

In late 2022, Penryn Sea Cadets hall hosted a truly moving event to celebrate a group of young men returning to their community anew. 

In addition to the young men who had finished their mentoring, the gathering also served to welcome the older trainee mentors into the ABOB community, now equipped with experience needed to have a positive influence on other young men in the future.

Mentors said how they enjoyed seeing the change in the men they mentored, with one saying: “It’s been nice to watch you grow... it’s magic.” 

A young mentee, James, told Smiley News: “A Band of Brothers has changed my life, I've now started to notice my emotions and feelings a lot more and realised how to express them in a more positive and healthy way due to the work

"This has changed my relationships a lot as I've shown people in my life I can talk about how I'm feeling instead of turning to old habits."

Supporting young people

In addition to the weekly mentoring meet-ups, ABOB also host “Quest Weekends” where mentors and mentees gather and take part in wholesome activities focusing on personal development in areas such as a grief, fear, anger and joy. 

Statistics show ABOB work is extremely successful, with 80% of participants either not re-offending or reporting a much lower severity in offending, 81% showing an improvement of self-esteem, and a 73% increase in employment, education or training. 

Keith Lesser, external relations coordinator, said: “We are really keen to hear from men interested in joining us to become mentors to young men, as well as young men either involved with or at risk of involvement with the criminal justice system that want to be mentored.” 

So if you want to help a young man, or know a young man who’d like to improve their life, why not get in touch

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs