Cordis Bright was funded by the Youth Endowment Fund to undertake a pilot randomised control trial of STEER. Our report has recently been published and can be viewed below or downloaded from the YEF website.
STEER is a six-month mentoring, coaching, family support and case management programme that aims to reduce offending amongst at-risk young people. Delivered by the Salford Foundation, STEER targets 10-17 year-olds who are at risk of involvement in crime because they have an association with a peer or family member(s) involved in serious violence, organised crime, or gangs, and have demonstrated certain risk factors (such as exhibiting violent behaviour). Delivered by trained youth workers, the programme involves four weeks of initial interactions and assessment, followed by 24 weeks of weekly one-hour, face-to-face, one-to-one mentoring. Young people also receive an additional one hour of weekly casework support, and parents and carers are offered 14 hours of Family Support Work.
The key findings of our report are:
- Recruitment, randomisation, and retention processes were successfully delivered. 168 young people were referred and 73% of those eligible consented to participate. 91% of the young people who started STEER continued to engage with STEER at the time of report writing. Take-up of the family support element was lower than anticipated (10%).
- The questionnaires were effectively administered, appeared to be reliable, valid, and practical, and outcome data collection rates were high. For example, all items in the SDQ had an 89% completion rate or higher at baseline and a 95% completion rate or higher at after six months.
- STEER was delivered in line with the Theory of Change. Across the cohort, all mandatory and optional topics were covered in one-to-one sessions (as reported by STEER staff and demonstrated in monitoring data).
- The RCT design was generally acceptable to stakeholders. This was supported by the level of trust that stakeholders had in Salford Foundation, and the demand for support for the target cohort. A small number of wider stakeholders had concerns regarding randomisation.
- STEER is ready to move to an efficacy RCT. The project met each of the progression criteria and does not require significant change ahead of larger scale evaluation.
Based on the findings of our pilot RCT report YEF have funded an efficacy RCT for STEER. The full STEER RCT protocol which we produced can be downloaded from the YEF website.
This research is vitally important given the limited robust evidence in the UK (i.e., that would reach level-4 or above on the Maryland Scientific Methods Scale) about the impact that mentoring programmes similar to STEER may have on improving outcomes for young people at risk of involvement in serious youth violence and other offending behaviours.