Parent and Carers Guide to Breakthrough Digital Mentoring for Young People
Keeping young people connected to Breakthrough
Whilst the schools remain closed, the Breakthrough team have been looking at new and safe ways to remain in contact with young people, and, if applicable, to continue to connect them with their mentor. Fortunately, there is a whole host of online tools available to support digital mentoring and online connections and we would like to share with you the ways we would like to remain in touch.
Below you will see a series of options – the first set of options details how we currently stay in touch; via email, text, phone call and What’s App – to which you have already provided consent. These are optional and both you and your young person can withdraw consent at any time. We do not share mentors contact information with young people and likewise a young persons contact information is not shared with mentors.
The second set of options introduces Google Meet – a new way to stay in touch with Breakthrough School Coordinators and mentors. Google Meet is a secure video conferencing tool developed by Google and available online and via a smart phone app. It provides a safe meeting place for young people and mentors – supervised throughout by a Breakthrough School Coordinator. To access a Google ‘meet’ we need to gain additional consent from both yourself and your young person.
How to give consent
You can provide consent online now by reading our Breakthrough Digital Mentoring Consent Letter and then clicking here. You can also provide consent over the telephone with a Breakthrough School Coordinator, if you have already shared a contact telephone number. If preferred, prior to giving consent, you can discuss all the options below in more detail by emailing your young person’s school coordinator.
This information for parents and carers should also be considered alongside the Digital Mentoring Guide for Young People and separate young person’s consent form.
Ways young people currently stay in touch with Breakthrough
Young people can remain in contact with their school coordinator via email, text, phone call or What’s App messages. They now have the option of sharing a message with their mentor via their own Breakthrough School Coordinator – the school coordinator will act as ‘broker’ – sharing messages back and forth.
Young people must have access to the internet or phone data/credit. They must also have a device at home they can use, such as a smart phone, laptop or tablet. If there is no device at home, please let us know and we will see what we can do to help. A What’s App account and valid email address are also required if this method of contact is chosen.
Other things you need to know about staying in touch via email, phone, text or What’s App:
There is no sharing of contact information between mentors and young people and no direct sharing of messages. All Breakthrough School Coordinators have a safeguarding responsibility which also applies to the sharing of information via the contact methods above. The school coordinator, young person and mentor will agree together just how much contact should be made and, although contact can be sent at any time, information will only be shared between the hours of 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.
Introducing new ways to stay in touch with Breakthrough
Breakthrough are now offering young people the opportunity to Google Meet their school coordinators and mentors – together! There are 3 separate functions within Google Meet – online messaging (chat), video chat and audio chat. With consent, young people can take part in any or some parts of digital mentoring.
Online messaging (chat) allows school coordinators, mentors and young people to send messages back and forth directly in real time. Unlike other messenger services, the chat will be visible to the coordinator throughout the session. The mentor and young person will not be able to see or hear each other.
In audio chat, which is similar to a normal phone call, school coordinators, mentors and young people will be able to hear each other speaking and have a conversation. They will not be able to see each other.
During a video chat, school coordinators, mentors and young people will see and hear each other in real time. This option is similar to in-school mentoring in that all participants can connect face-to-face.
The young person will need a smartphone, tablet or laptop for this option. They must have access to the internet or data/credit on their device. If accessing Google Meet on a smartphone, please download the free app from the Apple Store or Google Play.
Other things you need to know about staying in touch via Google Meet:
It is important to stress that young people are not permitted to Google Meet their mentors alone. Young people will be invited to take part in an online meeting via a direct link provide by their school coordinator. No discussion outside of supervised and planned sessions is allowed at any time. School coordinators will remain present throughout the entire chat, which will last no longer than 30 mins max at a time and day agreed in advance.
The school coordinator may turn off their own microphone and camera to be less intrusive but can still hear the discussion and contribute at any point.
Will the young person ever speak to their mentor alone?
No, the School Coordinator will be involved in every step of this process. At no time will a mentor and young person be together alone.
Is meeting with the mentor during the school closure’s compulsory?
No, this is an optional service to give young people the opportunity to continue to have contact with their mentor. This is not compulsory and will not affect their involvement in the service when schools resume.
What if I’m happy with the idea of all contact types but my young person doesn’t actually want to use some of them?
We ask for your consent to establish which options you are comfortable with in the first instance. We will then ask the young person to let us know what they are comfortable with along with their mentor. This will be led by the young person and no options are compulsory.
Will mentors and young people be meeting face to face at all?
As things currently stand there will be no face to face contact (other than via a video call) with mentors and young people. Should this become an option we will be in touch to discuss how this will look.
Where should young people go at home to have their meetings?
Young people can have their meeting wherever is appropriate. We would suggest that where possible meetings take place in a communal area at home. This is not however a requirement.
Can young people just have contact with their coordinator only?
Yes, if a young person would prefer to solely have contact with their coordinator this is not a problem and can be agreed with the young person.
What if I change my mind about meetings after giving consent?
Consent can be withdrawn at any time, please email your young person’s school coordinator to let them know
I’m unsure about my young person using the technology, is there any help available to get set up?
The school coordinator can support in any way possible to help make this as easy as possible, be that a phone conversation to walk through each step or a practice run ahead of meetings with mentors. We can also point you in the direction of step by step guides for using Google Meet.
My young person wants to speak to their mentor but is limited with resources e.g. phone, wifi, credit. Is there anything to help with this?
If you can let us know what limitations you are facing we will do our best to support with this. This will be on an individual basis so please speak to the school coordinator to discuss further.
I’m worried about my young person exchanging contact details with their mentor, how do I know this won’t happen?
The mentor will at no point be contacting the young person alone. The school coordinator will be there to safeguard and will in turn make sure that the exchanging of contact details will not take place.
How involved will the coordinator be in each of the meetings?
The coordinator will be present throughout every method of communication. This will be for safeguarding purposes only. For example, a coordinator will be part of a video call but may turn off their video and microphone.
How do I contact the coordinator with any concerns?
School coordinators will still have Child Protection responsibilities and any concerns they find will be taken through the agreed channel of sharing information with school Child Protection Officers and Guidance staff.