Ellis Watson, the executive chairman of DC Thomson Publishing, is the chairman of the new youth mentoring project BREAKTHROUGH Dundee. Here he explains his determination to recruit an army of inspirational volunteers to transform young people’s lives.
The journey that gave me the focus for Breakthrough is a very personal one.
A very, very brave 15-year-old Scottish mother gave birth to me 49 years ago. Born in this part of the world in 1967, statistically, I’d have had a 4% chance of having a drug or alcohol addiction, a 6% chance of being incarcerated, a 15% chance of being long-term unemployed, and a worrying chance of not making it to the age I am today.
But I’ve not been hooked, or incarcerated or unemployed, and I’m alive today because I was given a different chance by being given up to the care system and adopted.
I was lucky.
The average young person in Scotland follows a straightforward path throughout life. They’ve a good home life, mates, and an education system to make the most of their potential.
But, for some, the journey isn’t this easy. They grow up with exposure to abuse, addictions, chaotic lifestyles, or in terrible poverty. Many end up being looked after by the care system but, by then, what they’ve been exposed to often has caused lasting damage.
There are countless studies and alarming facts, but there’s one thing everyone agrees on – these forgotten young people didn’t ask for the challenges life threw at them.
They’ve as much potential to become remarkable adults as those born luckier.
Dundee is being reborn. We’re transforming it by acting as one family of engaged citizens to show Scotland – and the world – what a city can become if it works together.
We’ve a remarkable city council, great businesses and a wonderful community who want to hand our city to the next generation in much better shape, and there’s no more important cause than changing the lives of our most deserving young people.
There are 160,000 of us in Dundee, and in our eight secondary schools 7,000 pupils, but there are 500 care-experienced and disadvantaged young people who could become unfortunate statistics.
We want to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Surely we can come together to help 500 of our most deserving teenagers to a better outcome than those who came before them.
We will stop at nothing to work with each young person as an individual and turn every life into the best it can be.
Will you join us?