The Routes Mentoring Programme

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“We're honoured to receive this award, especially as it recognises projects which recognise the agency, dignity and autonomy of refugees. Autonomy is one of Routes’ key values and we come back to it every time we’re designing and delivering our work. We feel this is so important within the context of an asylum system that so often removes agency from the people moving through it. It feels particularly special to be recognised for something that is so fundamental to the way that we work. This award is great validation of our model, and we hope it will help us to be a blueprint for others elsewhere.”
Leyla McLennan
Founding Director
What the Judges said

The judges noted the project’s long-term commitment to its one-on-one relationships and success at bringing mentees on board. It is focused on self-reliance and measures its impact. “It’s well-designed and thoughtful Community Interest Company (CIC) programme in London has clear goals with an impressive one-to-one metric that could be expanded into other areas of support.” The judges believe it an example of a ‘can do’ integration initiative. “Essentially an individual development and integration project” it generates positive collective effect through its Reverse Mentoring programme and an impact framework that values confidence building alongside exemplar achievement by individuals.  “If amplified, the judges said, “this model could be a blueprint elsewhere.”

What Mentees say about the Programme

“I think mentoring is important especially for women seeking safety because it provides a sense of direction, healing and comfort. It is like a drawing board you always go back to re-trace, re-evaluate, rebuild, re-design and restore your steps so as to achieve your goals. Like fuel that propels you out of your comfort zone and move towards being a better person.” – Mentee from Uganda on the programme from Oct 20 – Feb 21

“I don’t know how to describe with simple words, but until now [the Mentoring Programme is] the best experience in my life in the UK. I think everyone needs to do this experience… With Routes, it feels like not just 4 months; it’s very useful.” – Mentee from Iran, on the programme October 2022 – February 2023

“The mentoring programme was a life changing opportunity and gift I ever received. From being confused to being aligned to my goals. I was paired with a mentor who has the same interests as me, I felt comfortable and confident to talk about my needs. My goals were to access UK education, explore scholarships and to look at volunteering opportunities for asylum seekers in the UK. I made achievable steps from finding Universities that offer University courses and scholarships specific to asylum seekers. I secured a university conditional offer and went through scholarship application and screening which I passed. I applaud Routes for their selfless services to women seeking safety in the UK.” – Mentee from Uganda, on the programme from Oct 20 – Feb 21

“Routes program has changed my mindset about so many things. Previously I was so focused on the things I can’t do because of my asylum status but being on the program made me realize that even with my status I can still empower myself with knowledge and skills. Now I feel like I have no limitations.” – Mentee from Nigeria, on the programme April – August 2023

“It has given me new insights and prespectives about life in general. I have learned a lot about applications and how to make them stand out. As a result of the support I got from my amazing mentor, I was able to secure a job that I enjoy. I was also able to come across different training opportunities, which I am looking forward to starting them in the near future. I have learned a lot about compassion and care through my journey and hope to share it with hundreds of peoples I will come across in my life time.” – Mentee from Eritrea, on the programme October 2022 – February 2023

Head of Programmes says

“We are thrilled to have won the Ockenden International Award! One of the great joys of our day-to-day is supporting mentors and mentees, to work on their personal and professional goals. It’s incredibly inspiring to see people learn together, and champion each other. Mentors come from businesses who might not be involved in the refugee sector, and seeing these organisations recognise the importance of 1:1 mentoring in this context is invaluable. At the same time, working with mentees and providing relevant additional support is something that we will continue to pioneer, amidst changing legislation. 

“For us, it’s an honour to work with our participants, and see them achieve successes despite setbacks and structural barriers. The trust placed in Routes and the Routes Mentoring Programme feels special every time, and to see that now recognised with an international Award is a testament to how powerful this model is. We’d like to thank the Award-committee for granting the Programme this recognition, which also further fuels our passion and determination to create meaningful change.” –
Wieke Vink

The Other 2024 Finalists, and Winners

Ockenden International’s four cash prizes recognise and reward innovative projects that deliver evidential self-reliance to refugees and/or displaced people, the cornerstone of Ockenden International since its inception in 1951. The four annual prizes are open to projects or programmes focused on Internally Displaced People (IDPs)/refugee self-reliance anywhere in the world. The other nine 2024 finalists (with the other three winners italicised) are: