Ben Macpherson visits Circle’s Mentoring Project

Recently, our Mentoring Project Co-ordinator, Claire, and Haven Manager, Emma, attended George Heriots for the launch of their voluntary service programme. Ben Macpherson, Constituency MSP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, volunteered previously as a mentor for Circle in his sixth year at George Heriots School in 2001, and delivered a talk about his experiences at the launch day.

Since being a mentor, Ben has graduated from York University with a degree in Politics and Philosophy, and later studied Law at the University of Edinburgh. Ben has then gone on to become a well-known Scottish Politician, and held two cabinet positions, serving as Minister of Social Security and Local Government since May 2021.

You can find Ben’s website here:

“My strong support for Circle since my election is part of my determination to help make a positive impact locally and in the policy areas that Circle works in.”- Ben Macpherson


Our Mentoring Project aims to provide academic and emotional support to disadvantaged children experiencing difficulties at school, at home or in the community. Children benefit from weekly 1 to 1 support delivered by a volunteer mentor in their final year of secondary school. The children who are supported by this project will be dealing with a variety of challenging circumstances such as low confidence, poor school attendance and being isolated from their peers.

The Mentoring Project takes place in term time after school within Circle’s Head Office, and also runs during school holidays, organising day trips and activities for children. The student’s mentor individual children and focus on one-to-one activities to boost the children’s self-esteem and confidence. Each mentor volunteers one day a week with the project, with support from our Mentor Co-ordinator, who supervises the sessions and provides the mentors with regular feedback.

For children we:

  • provide a consistent 1:1 mentor, one afternoon per week for the entire school year
  • support homework and a positive approach to learning
  • respond to individuals’ different needs and abilities
  • provide a range of fun activities including digital photography, arts and crafts, cooking and board games; indoor as well as outdoor physical activities such as football
  • accept referrals from local primary schools

For mentors we:

  • provide a first-class opportunity for volunteering, which is undertaken by some as part of accredited schemes such as Duke of Edinburgh
  • increase your confidence and skills in working with young children
  • develop your knowledge of children’s development
  • provide the chance to get to know some great children

The Mentoring Project currently supports 20 local primary school children a week, with 20 mentors. However, thanks to funding from KPE4, our Mentoring Project is being expanded this year, doubling the number of local children who can benefit from the service from 20 to 40. The effects of Covid and the cost-of-living crisis have seen an increased demand for our service, and by extending our Mentoring Project, we will be able to reach more children to give them the help they need to overcome the challenges they face. We currently supporthighlight that it is currently 20/20 because but its going up to 40/40

“It has been a huge help for me to have some space on at least one day a week as my son will often come home from school and need me to get all his frustrations out. Circle provided that space for him and he would come home feeling calm.”- Parent

We couldn’t run the Mentoring Project without our amazing sixth year volunteers, who are usually made up by George Heriots students. Circle’s relationship with George Heriots has continued to develop, and recently, we’ve had some staff and students take part in the Edinburgh Kiltwalk to raise money for then children and families we support.

You can still donate to support the walkers through their JustGiving page here:


If you’d like to find out more about our ISSEP project, contact Claire Coyle at: Claire.Coyle@Circle.Scot