IT IS hard to imagine a teenager feeling so desperate and alone that she would think life was not worth living.
But that was the situation facing Kate (16) before she got help from Aberlour YouthPoint Moray.
Kate felt unloved and unwanted at home, hated school, and had fallen in with a crowd of ‘friends’ who led her down the path of drinking alcohol and anti-social behaviour.
There seemed to be little light at the end of a dark tunnel for the teenager, who had moved to Moray from England a few years before.
"I had family troubles and wasn’t attending school. I wasn’t at home much, as it wasn’t a nice place to be, and I was getting into trouble," she said.
With her life spiralling downwards, Kate was pointed in the direction of Aberlour YouthPoint Moray, part of the Aberlour Scotland children’s charity.
In the last three years, she has had the support of three adult mentors to provide some structure and stability in her life, which has made her face up to some harsh realities in terms of alcohol and anger management.
The YouthPoint has also provided her with a safe haven where she can relax and be herself.
"It is a calm environment for me, and there is no judgement. It is nice to have that security and know that people are not going to let me down," said Kate.
"Over the years it has helped me so much. I have qualifications, I am going to college and I am looking forward to the rest of my life now.
"Before, I was so depressed, had family issues, and was in and out of school. If I hadn’t had YouthPoint, I don’t think I would be here.
"The service really put things in motion. I have sat my Standard Grades and my Intermediates as well. I feel like I have options now, whereas before I was looking at being on the dole," she said.
It was largely through discussions with Kate and other young people receiving help from the service that it was expanded to include a peer mentoring service.
With funding from Comic Relief and Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland’s Partnership Drugs Initiative, the peer mentoring service will help young people aged 12-25 who have been affected by alcohol.
Kate and her mentor, 22-year-old Sarah, are the first to be matched up and go through the service, under the guidance of mentoring support worker George Flett.
So far, 17 peer mentors have gone through a training programme to enable them to be matched up with youngsters in need of support.
George Flett said that recruitment for the service had been done through schools and a range of partner agencies.
Peer mentors go through the same background checks as adult mentors, and will be closely matched to youngsters referred to the service.
"They will be able to identify with each other and talk about the same kind of stuff. They will talk the same language, while we as adults can never really identify as much as we would like with a young person like Kate."
He said that talking to young people like Jane was important in designing the peer mentor service, so that their opinions were valued and the final service matched their needs.To read more about Kate's story and the work of the Aberlour charity see 'The Northern Scot' print version.