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Mentoring: Can you get too much of a ‘good thing’? Proposing enhancements to the ‘effectiveness framework’ the England and Wales Prison and Probation Service

Wong, K ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3847-2316 and Horan, R (2021) Mentoring: Can you get too much of a ‘good thing’? Proposing enhancements to the ‘effectiveness framework’ the England and Wales Prison and Probation Service. European Journal of Probation. ISSN 2066-2203

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Abstract

Opt-in, open-ended mentoring for people with convictions, allowing them to dip in and out of services without sanction arguably offers a service configuration to match the paradigm of the zig-zag, nomadic desistance journey. Balancing supporting individual’s agency while avoiding fostering dependency is tricky. What are the conditions which support the former and avoid the latter? We aim to answer this question by drawing on the lived experience of mentees and mentors collected during the evaluation of a mentoring scheme in England. We consider whether mentoring is unequivocally a ‘good thing’. Despite its ubiquity, the evidence for its effectiveness is mixed. We suggest that it is possible to get too much mentoring, and advance the evidence base in the United Kingdom and internationally in other jurisdictions by proposing enhancements to the ‘effectiveness framework’ set out by the prison and probation service in England and Wales.

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