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Inspiring a generation

438. Iain MacRitchie

A Glasgow businessman created MCR Pathways, a project which has helped over 200 disadvantaged young people match with mentors to improve their life chances.

Iain MacRitchie, 51, has a long career as a businessman and entrepreneur, advising over 100 businesses, and Chairman of 15 companies. He wanted to use his skills to help others so set up a charitable foundation for his company MCR Holdings.

The MCR Pathways project is one of the foundation’s flagship schemes and was launched in 2008 to ensure that disadvantaged young people have the same education outcomes, career opportunities and life chances as others. He now spends the majority of his time on the project, travelling across the country to work on expanding the project.

The Pathways project aims to partner up a volunteer mentor with a student aged between 12-18, particularly those from a ‘care experienced’ background (either caring for others or in the care system themselves). This provides the student with a listening ear and a positive role model to help them find opportunities and grow their talent through education and work taster programmes.

Previously, in 2005, Iain was brought in professionally to improve three organisations of children’s homes, residential schools and foster agencies. The experience he gained in addressing a poor set of outcomes for young people at these institutions, generated within Iain both passion and commitment for changing the lives of these young people. The pilot Pathways project at St Andrew’s School in Glasgow in 2008 generated a return to school rate increase from 4% to 67% in 2014. Similarly, the attendance rate was 65% pre pilot, shooting up to 90%. The number of St Andrew’s care experienced young people going into further and higher educations was 19% before the pilot, going up to 63% in 2014.

There are currently eight participating schools and in the next two years the project will expand to all 29 secondary schools in Glasgow. Over 200 young people have partnered mentors at the moment, with 700 volunteer mentors registered to be partnered up.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Iain has shown a fantastic dedication to making sure that all young people have the same opportunities, no matter what start they have had in life. By inspiring hundreds of people to give their time to mentor young people across Glasgow, Iain has made a real difference to hundreds of lives. I am delighted to recognise Iain’s service by making him the UK’s 438th Point of Light.”

Iain said:

“It is fantastic for the volunteering commitment and passion of Glasgow to be recognised in this collective award. It is a privilege to be working with so many likeminded and positively determined people in the Education Authority, schools, organisations and businesses, all driven to personally make a difference for the young people of the city. The momentum being created will ensure that every disadvantaged young person in Glasgow has the opportunity and support to find, grow and use their talents.”

Lord Dunlop, Minister for Scotland, said:

“This award recognises Iain’s tireless efforts over the past decade to unlock the talents and potential of young people living in difficult circumstances. Iain’s work represents Scottish entrepreneurialism at its very best, giving back to the local community and helping others to become mentors. The example he sets is a truly inspiring one.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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