Questions & Answers

I am interested to know of the role of parents/families within the programme – is there one? How is that facilitated and what has been the response from them? 

The more people who get involved in violence prevention the better it is. Parents have a key role. Some parents have had training in prevention of violence in other areas and this has worked really well. Children then have the option to talk to their parents/carer if something is going on. It gives the child an opportunity to say if something is bothering them or their friend.

When parents aren’t trained, sometimes they may give advice which goes against the principles taught to children and young people in the MVP training.   Many parents lack awareness on issues such as pornography and relationship abuse in young people, and need support on this. Some schools in other areas have Parent Champions who are able to devote the time to support the MVP programme. This provides parents the opportunity to gain knowledge and awareness to be able to support their child.

Has the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit already committed to investing in MVP?

The South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (SYVRU) has commissioned Graham Goulden from Cultivating Minds to support roll out of the programme in South Yorkshire.  MVP is something that will be owned by South Yorkshire as a collective, not by SYVRU, although we are in a position to lead on the development of this work initially. The MVP event held on 28 May 2020 was to learn more about the programme, gather interest, setting up a steering group and discuss implementation with interested organisations.

Are you happy for other SYVRU supported programmes that we have to run alongside this development e.g. Resilience, Executive Functioning, Neuroplasticity and the existing support networks?

The MVP programme is intended to be complementary to what is already in place. The aim is for all schools to utilise it and be able to run it in a self-sustained fashion. The initial investment from the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit will help this programme to continue in future years.  In Scotland, the programme has been running for around ten years now.

I am interested to know about ongoing evidence /evaluation of the programmes – has there been further/ongoing evaluation in Scotland?

Success must be measured when public money has been invested.  In Scotland, the Violence Reduction Unit worked with St. Andrews University to evaluate the programme, a report of which is available online.  Links to American evaluation evidence report by Dr Alan Heisterkamp is also available on

Dr Heisterkamp has done a lot of research around the model he has developed in the American state of Iowa. Evaluation evidence is also available in Education Scotland Progress report for 18/19.  Research and evaluation costs a lot of money and therefore cannot be continue every year.  In Scotland, after the initial evaluation, an online portal has been created for a pre-survey and a post-survey questionnaire. These can be shared with the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit to be able to develop something similar.

The goal for the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit should always be to build a model, develop it, evaluate it and pass it on to be led by someone else in South Yorkshire. The conversation about Education Scotland leading on the work started back in 2010. A dedicated team within Education Scotland built a model and since have been developing the model to ensure that the programme is sustained in Scotland. The team produces progress reports which primarily focus on implementation and good practice. The evidence of the usefulness of the programme is a valued part of the curriculum. The schools involved in the MVP programme meet regularly to share their stories of success, like students standing up to bullying, developing confidence, which are evidence of change.

The coordination from VRU is crucial at this stage. Mr. Mark Miller, one of the Partnership Managers with the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit, will be supporting the schools with the programme. Graham’s role in supporting in Year one and Year two will be to provide training and support the mentors. Links can be established with mentor teams in other parts of the country for advice, as the Home Office is encouraging the Violence Reduction Units in different parts of the country to collaborate and share knowledge.

What are the plans for evaluation when the programme is set up for South Yorkshire?

Funding for South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit has been confirmed until the end of 2021 financial year. It is important to involve partners across South Yorkshire so that the MVP programme can continue after March 2021. As a part of the conditions of the funding from Home Office, the Violence Reduction Unit has to deliver certain elements, one of which this year is a local evaluation.  SYVRU are in the process of commissioning an evaluation provider for this purpose. Mentors in Violence Prevention is one of the things that the VRU wants to review as part of this evaluation, but the evaluation needs to be completed by end of March 2021, so this will depend on progress. Dr Billings and the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner are keen to support this programme even if the Violence Reduction unit are not in operation after March 2021.

What about the young people in Alternative Provision (AP) and who don’t access mainstream school provision?

There is opportunity to include alternative provision in the training by adapting the model so that the staff become the mentor and are able to deliver the sessions. The MVP programme is essentially youth work and Graham has worked with many youth workers in the recent past. Community workers can support the schools as well as introduce the programme in the community setting, and use the materials to talk about the issues that need to be addressed. Therefore, both schools and communities need equal support. It is important to involve both primary and secondary school students alike, however we will be starting with secondary schools.

This could do with Head Teacher buy in across district and Virtual Head for region who will support those with additional issues across district.

Leadership is key for this programme. Teachers may feel that the programme is beneficial and want to introduce it in the curriculum.  This must also be agreed to by the Head Teacher. Mark Miller’s role is important here as he will be able to engage with the leadership of the school so that teachers involved in the MVP programme can get help and support from Mark if they meet challenges. The mentor will be provided with all the training and help needed to be able to, in turn support the pupils or young people. There can be various barriers in the process, like challenges from teachers who have not been trained on this programme.

What about the young people that are at high risk of being involved in violence?

Many young people are identified as being at risk of violent behaviour by parents, the system etc. This stays with them as they grow older. The MVP programme does not see the young individual as a problem, instead it involves them as a part of the solution. Violence prevention requires a series of measures to be put in place, eventually leading to people being held accountable. Young people will be held accountable for their actions. Some young people who are involved in crimes are influencers, hence involving these kids in the MVP programme is prove beneficial. It is important to develop relationships with our young people.

How do you ensure that when these programs run in school, it is done with whole school buy in? Is there any kind of follow up to the initial training? How do you make sure that young people can approach any adult in school for support, and that the program is being properly implemented, not just a case of schools saying that they run the program by displaying the logo?

Consistency in delivering the programme is one way of ensuring that the programme is implemented properly. Another way to ensure the same is to get the buy in from the headteacher as the whole leadership team needs to be behind this programme, which is a part of the MVP values. The programme needs to be built into the plans of the school and link into the values. MVP also needs to be linked to the VRU, national government priorities, employability, community safety etc. and local South Yorkshire priorities. MVP also needs to fit in with the school plans and therefore must be included in school curriculum.

Having school staff trained in delivering the MVP program is also a way to ensure consistency in delivery. Mark Miller, Partnership Manager and lead on this project and school leaders, has a crucial role to play in maintaining the fidelity of the programme. Once some staff are trained on the programme, their first job is to have a meeting with other staff of the school and communicate the programme. The MVP programme will be useful not only in schools, but will also help in dealing with issues with children at home. Mark will receive MVP training as well so that he can understand the programme better to be able to assist the leaders / mentors when a challenging situation arises.

Owing to the situation with Covid-19, face to face training may not be possible. Therefore, the alternative plan is being explored that allows online training.

What about equalities issues – LGBT+, BAME? How are these issues incorporated?

The scenarios, which will be shared with those who are trained, include insults, look at name calling which can be used as hate crime and homophobic crime. The scenarios can be altered and used to serve the purpose of the South Yorkshire. In Scotland a survey revealed that 80% LGBT people have been victims of domestic abuse. Where the number of female victims is quite high, the number of male victims of domestic abuse cannot be ignored. Content can be added to the session plans to suit the requirement of the mentors/deliverers.

You talk about the MVP training being delivered in PSHE lessons, but also training mentors. Are these things different?

The Mentor Support Team, consisting of the school staff and partners, will have access to the training sessions and their role will be to work with the mentors on how to deliver MVP scenarios. The online training will include several scenarios following the same structure and questions for the mentors. Depending on the social distancing regulations, after summer the mentors can come together in small groups to work together and practice these sessions. All activities are in lesson plan format for the trainees to be able to deliver to the mentors.

Could the programme be used as a solid foundation to any recovery curriculum (particularly Year 7,8,9) dealing with bereavement, trauma, anxiety, attachment?

Yes – SYVRU will take forward these conversations with Graham and those interested.  For more information, please get in touch:

Are there any specific strategies being used, within MVP, to address mental ill health and emotional wellbeing?

We can develop further scenarios and tailor to what we need.

How does this work link to the Intervention Initiative (Exeter University Bystander programme)? Is the difference that MVP has been developed for secondary / high schools whereas theirs is focused on College and University?

MVP works in universities quite well. The programme stands out as it focuses on the norms, power in society, victim blaming, etc. Both the programmes have been developed around similar psychology. The Exeter Model focuses more on interventions, which means if you see something what do you do? The scenarios in the MVP programme are always about a friend, not a stranger. It focuses on relationships. In a scenario with a stranger there is a physical fear of becoming a victim, however in a situation with a friend the fear is more social, as the intervention to stop an abuse may result in losing a friend. It is about spotting the sign way before the abuse occurs and it is about developing the moral to be able to do it.

The Exeter programme is quite prolonged for the universities to be able to manage. MVP on the other hand is a 3 hour workshop which is convenient for students to be able to attend

Will the programme help to train parents to be mentors?

Yes, absolutely.

The effectiveness of this depends on it working alongside educating mentors and mentees on (institutional) racism, gender discrimination, homophobia, religious discrimination etc.

Absolutely. To move this forward we firstly need a steering group of people who are interested in the programme who are going to support implementation of MVP across the region, taking a more strategic view point, people who have interest and influence, and can help in developing a plan. Mark Miller, Partnership Manager, can help with doing the leg work, however the programme does require more people to be involved to make this work. Interested persons can send an email to

Please can you include alternative provision community?

Absolutely. Any interested alternative provision provider, interested community members who want to be involved in the training, are welcome, as the programme is now more flexible since it is being delivered virtually which will enable us to train a larger number of people.

Will there be any support for people whose first language isn’t English or who do not read and write in any language?

For individuals who do not read and write in any language, the schools will need to accommodate this as they usually would, for example, the mentee can ask the mentor to read a scenario out, and this will be built into the session plans.

In terms of individuals whose first language is not English, schools will again need to provide support as they usually would.

Will the PowerPoint presentation be sent out?

We have a briefing document that is available for people to utilise and the recording of the session is available below.