Scottish Violence Reduction Unit

What is MVP?

Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) is Scotland’s largest anti-violence schools programme operating in more than 20 local authority areas from Shetland to the Scottish borders.

MVP aims to empower students to safely speak out against all forms of violence from rape and sexual harassment to bullying and abusive behaviour.  

The programme was first developed in America where it is has become one of the country’s longest-running and most influential violence prevention initiatives operating in high schools, colleges and within the military. Seeing the potential of the scheme the SVRU decided to adapt the programme and bring it to Scotland in 2011 when it was successfully piloted at St Stephen’s High School and Port Glasgow High School in Inverclyde and Portobello High School in Edinburgh. Working in partnership with Education Scotland it is now operating in more than 150 secondary schools.  

Based on the ‘bystander’ approach MVP motivates everyone to get involved in safely challenging abuse. The programme sees students as a school’s greatest resource in achieving this and trains senior pupils to act as peer mentors who then deliver sessions to younger students in the school. Over the last five years more than 6,000 fifth and sixth year mentors have been trained, with the mentors going on to deliver around 2,000 lessons a year. Sessions target issues such as bullying, gender norms, domestic violence, knife crime and harmful sexual behaviour.  

More recently MVP has been adapted to work in both higher education settings, workplaces and Scotland’s night time economy with pubs and clubs embracing the scheme as a way to help keep customers safe. There has also been expansion of the programme outside Scotland on a not-for-profit basis. 

Why MVP?

MVP is a peer education programme designed to reduce gender-based violence. It encourages dialogue between pupils and empowers them to become active bystanders in the face of bullying or abusive behaviour.

MVP uses a creative bystander approach to explore healthy and unhealthy behaviours in relationships. Using this approach, pupils are not identified as potential victims or perpetrators of bullying or abuse but as empowered and active bystanders with the ability to support or challenge their peers. This helps local authorities to create positive learning environments where all pupils are supported to reach their potential. 

Within MVP sessions, young people are provided with a range of potential interventions to prevent the escalation of unhealthy behaviours in relationships, and given space to consider their options. It is designed this way to reduce ‘fight or flight’ responses to dangerous or unhealthy situations.

Our work

MVP is delivered in Scotland through a partnership comprising Scottish Government, Education Scotland and the Violence Reduction Unit. The aim is to have MVP in all Scottish local authorities and we currently have staff and pupils trained in 26 of 32 authorities.  There is a national MVP steering group which meets quarterly to drive the work of the programme. 

Where an authority wishes to implement MVP, staff from the MVP National Team based within Education Scotland will support them to explore readiness and, when ready, to identify key partners for a local steering group.  Whilst implementation of MVP at local level will be education-led, the success of the programme relies on good local partnerships with organisations and programmes already delivering within local communities.   

If the decision is made to proceed with the implementation of MVP, the Education Scotland National Team will arrange to train staff and partners from identified learning communities on a 2-day training. Following this training, these ‘Mentor Support Team’ staff will have access to the programme materials and to a full Mentor Training programme which they can use to train senior phase pupils in school as MVP Mentors. Once trained, and with ongoing support from trained staff, these senior phase pupils can then deliver identified MVP sessions to younger peers in school.

MVP Training

Within MVP training attendees will be introduced to the MVP Programme with a particular focus on the 5 Core Components of MVP:

  • 1. Exploring violence through a gendered lens
  • 2. Developing leadership
  • 3. Using a bystander approach
  • 4. Recognising the scope of violent behaviour
  • 5. Challenging victim blaming

Within MVP there are the following types of staff and partner training.

Two-day MVP mentor support team training:

This training is intended for any new school intending on implementing the MVP programme. New schools are asked to commit to training a core group of staff and partners before implementation. This two day training allows time to practice using the MVP materials in an supportive environment as well as time for implementation planning within your school groups.

One-day capacity building:

This training is for schools to grow their MVP team and build capacity within their schools. This is a great opportunity to build partners into your MVP delivery as well as additional school staff interested in becoming involved. The range of partners is not exhaustive and may include local youth work provision, anti-bullying and violence against women organisations, police, sports coaches amongst others.

Two day training for trainers:

This training is for experienced MVP staff to become Local Authority MVP trainers. Any future training opportunities will be circulated via Local Authority MVP co-ordinators.

MVP training materials

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Niven Rennie

Director

Telephone: 01786 896785          Email: violence.reduction@scotland.pnn.police.uk

Niven has more than 30 years of operational policing experience in the United Kingdom. He joined Strathclyde Police in 1985 serving throughout the west of Scotland in a variety of ranks and positions before progressing to the rank of Chief Superintendent. Niven previously held the role of President of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents where he represented the interests of the operational leaders of policing in Scotland.

On leaving Police Scotland in 2016 Niven took up the position of Chief Executive Officer of South Ayrshire Escape from Homelessness (SeAscape).

Niven was appointed director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit in July 2018.