9 September 2023

Starfish: Mentoring young minds

Lyn Woods

Remote video URL

Lyn Woods learns about Starfish from Tracy Wood (Children & Youth Department).

What is Starfish?

Starfish is a Salvation Army mentoring programme for children and young people in primary and secondary schools between 9 and 16 years of age. It is offered to schools free of charge.

What does the mentoring programme teach?

School is a significant space, where lifelong friendships are made, where confidence and self-esteem are built or shattered and where life skills are refined. Starfish is focused on boosting emotional health and wellbeing, including personal development and life skills.

The mentoring programme can particularly benefit young people whose rate of learning and/or level of motivation is suffering because of behavioural, social or emotional issues, those who are at risk of exclusion, those struggling with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic or those who need confidential support for personal issues of any kind.

Working within a school’s student wellbeing support, Starfish provides committed and trusted adults to work with young people who need some additional support, without which they would be at risk of not meeting their full potential.

A photo shows a student and a mentor playing a card game together.

Where is Starfish active?

There are 21 corps across 11 divisions engaging with schools through Starfish. They include York, Forest of Dean, Shotts, Plymouth Exeter Hall Whitleigh and Abergavenny. Joining them soon is the fresh expression at Ebbsfleet. With 30 more Starfish mentors joining the 55 existing ones in November, the programme will then be active in 17 primary schools and 10 secondary schools.

When and how did Starfish come about?

Although Starfish has been around for several years, it has been developed further over the past two years by the Children and Youth Department, so that corps and centres can provide their local schools with a free service that will have a real impact on the lives of children and young people.

At Chatham, for example, because of our relationship with the school, we were able to provide Christmas parcels to 50 families and sent 5 children, who perhaps wouldn’t get a holiday normally, to the divisional summer camp.

If you’re passionate about taking your ministry into schools and making a difference in the lives of young people, then Starfish is for you!

A photo shows a mentor talking to a student on a park bench.

Who can become a mentor?

The beauty of Starfish is that you don’t have to be a youth or children’s worker. If you’ve got two hours to spare a week, an hour for preparation and an hour to spend with a young person, if you can sit and listen and respond to the feelings of a young person, you could be a mentor.

What do teachers say about it?

One teacher gave this feedback: ‘After seeing the confidence these children have gained through the mentoring programme, I would confidently recommend this programme to any school.’

How can corps get involved?

Find out more by watching the Mentoring Children & Young People video, emailing childrenyouth@salvationarmy.org.uk or connecting with the department through Facebook.

Written by

A photo of Lyn Woods

Lyn Woods

Editorial Assistant

Resources to support Education Sunday (10 September), a time to pray for and celebrate those in the world of education.

Upcoming events organised by the Children & Youth Department.

Join host Jo Taylor as she invites a guest to a hypothetical hike with four choices and four questions.

Highlights from Salvationist Radio's Sunday Worship.