In 1996, in response to a stabbing in a school playground, the school’s headmaster asked Patrick Regan, a local church based youth worker, to come into the school and work with their students and teachers to help with difficult behavioural issues. This was the beginning of XLP, a Christian charity that has an emphasis on being faith-based, but not faith-biased: XLP works equally with young people of all faiths and none. Those who work at XLP share a common passion: to serve the community by meeting the social, educational and behavioural needs of young people, and empowering them to make wise lifestyle choices and to realise their potential.
Over the years XLP has grown from working in a single school to operating in over 60 schools and communities across Southwark, Lewisham, Greenwich,Tower Hamlets, Newham, Islington and Camden. In the early days, Patrick began by hosting a lunch-time club on school premises that taught the kids more about their own heroes, and in particular how those heroes behaved. Today, on a day-to-day basis, XLP has projects dealing with a wide variety of issues including drugs awareness, anger management and violence, poverty and fairtrade, prejudice and racism, sex and relationships, and image and identity.
The XLP project that Soul Action is currently supporting is XLM in Southwark, London.
Started in 2008, XLP’s XL-Mentoring project (XLM) has proven highly effective in supporting young people to choose to:
- Improve behaviours, self-esteem & life skills.
- Stay in school and succeed in education.
- Improve relationships with family, peers teachers and others in the community.
- Set goals for the future and work hard to achieve them
The project operates in partnership with local schools and communities and focuses on those aged 11 – 18 who are on the verge of exclusion. Almost every school will have at least 5 children and young people they can identify who are struggling in life with issues such as parental divorce, bereavement, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, low academic attainment, and many others. Placing a consistent and persistent role model mentor into their lives who can listen to them, give them time, and help encourage and guide their development, will have a positive and lasting impact upon their lives and futures. A highly trained mentor, normally from the local church, engages for 2 hours per week for a minimum of a year and has text contact in between meetings.
Stories from the Project:
The stories of lives changed through this project are truly amazing. A young woman permanently excluded from school for fighting and violent behaviour is back in mainstream education with significantly improved attendance and grades – her mum and teachers are amazed at the changes.
A young man from a single-parent family living with a disabled mum on a deprived estate, referred by Youth Offending Services after involvement in a violent incident, is now attending school consistently and taking eight GCSEs with predicted B and C grades.
Another young man from a broken family who was seriously underachieving at school with appalling behaviour and attendance, is now no longer on report, has an 100% attendance record and significantly improved behaviour 12 months on from joining the project. And there are many more.
- The young people with whom XLP works – pray into issues of poverty, family breakdown, unemployment, educational failure and gangs.
- The continued expansion of the XL-Mentoring project into the areas of Newham and Greenwich
(Group of Young people being mentored by XLP on an outward bounds weekend in Snowdonia)