Swindon AdvertiserVolunteers sought to help turn teens' lives around (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Volunteers sought to help turn teens' lives around

Swindon Advertiser: Kelly Castleman, Tammy Lovack, Rob Chapel, Kyle Goodchild and Mel Stevenson Kelly Castleman, Tammy Lovack, Rob Chapel, Kyle Goodchild and Mel Stevenson

YOUNG people who have turned their lives around after receiving help from the town’s youth mentoring project are encouraging more volunteers to come forward.

Swindon Mentoring and Self Help (SMASH) is recruiting volunteers to help vulnerable 13 to 18-year-olds to increase their potential.

Mel Stevenson, 19, of the town centre, will be studying film, television and theatre at university in Derby from September after being encouraged to get her qualifications by her SMASH mentor when she was 14.

She said: “I was giving up on life. I was diagnosed with severe agoraphobia, which meant I couldn’t go outside. I was having home tutoring and I chased them away.

“I was matched with a mentor and she understood me. SMASH has definitely changed my life. I would encourage more young people to go for it.”

Kyle Goodchild, 14, of Park South, has been helped by SMASH for nearly a year.

He said: “I had a lot of problems at my old school. I wasn’t behaving and I kept getting yellow and red cards and being sent out. I got excluded once. SMASH has boosted my confidence a lot and it helps me get out of the house.

“I play pool with my mentor, or sometimes we go bowling or play tennis. My attitude to learning has changed.

“My time at SMASH has coincided with leaving my old school and moving to Churchfields Academy. It is a new start.”

SMASH has trained more than 350 volunteers since 1999.

Project manager Rob Chappell said: “We have just got a grant from Nationwide to train a new team and we have a few on board already.

“We are looking for somebody who has a bit of life experience who is willing to give up a couple of hours a week.

“We are looking for people who really want to give something back. It can get difficult on occasions but it is the most rewarding role you can have.”

Training starts on July 7 and is sponsored by The Nationwide Community Foundation.

Anyone looking to get involved with mentoring or helping with fundraising can contact Rob on 01793 879297 or visit www.smash-youth-project.co.uk

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