Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and two key national youth mentoring organisations have announced a trailblazing partnership to help young people get ahead.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is to work with One Million Mentors (1MM) and The Careers & Enterprise Company to deliver his flagship Mayor’s Mentors programme, which aims to match 1,000 mentors with 1,000 young people aged 11 to 25.
1MM is part of UpRising, a UK-wide youth leadership development organisation working to open up opportunities for young people from diverse and under-represented backgrounds.
It is working to build a national online platform to recruit, train and deploy one million mentors over the next decade to organisations working with young people.
It provides online resources and training events to help professionals prepare to become mentors.
The Careers & Enterprise Company is the national network connecting schools, colleges, employers and career programme providers to create high-impact careers opportunities for young people.
It is leading a national campaign which aims to have 25,000 pre-GCSE students, at risk of disengaging from education, in high-quality employer-led mentoring.
The Mayor said: “One thing I have learned in my career is the value of having a mentor – it’s helped me take important decisions in work and life and it’s that lesson that is at the heart of the Mayor’s Mentors initiative.
“These mentors will be people who are successful in their careers and who can give a hand up for young people just starting out, in work or those setting up on their own.
“Lots of members of the business community have been saying to me that they want to play their part in tackling youth unemployment, give something back and assist in the ongoing success of the region.
“While there are many positive economic indicators in the West Midlands, improving opportunities for young people is vital. This is why I made eradicating youth unemployment in the West Midlands a clear priority.”
Rushanara Ali, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, is co-founder of UpRising and founding chair of 1MM.
She said: “1MM is delighted to be working with the Mayor and the Mayor's Mentors scheme. It is an exciting partnership testing the role that technology can play in providing support and training to the mentor.
“Thanks to the Mayor the West Midlands is pioneering this innovative approach to connect professionals with young people at a scale never seen before in the UK.
“1MM’s ambition is to recruit, train and deploy a million mentors to a million young people over the next decade. Our work in the West Midlands marks the start of this exciting journey.'”
Claudia Harris, chief executive officer of the Careers and Enterprise Company, said: “Our organisation is involved in helping young people make successful transitions into the world of work. Matching a young person with a mentor can help with this.
“Research shows that mentoring is most effective when the young person can relate to the mentor.
“However, today mentors often come from a narrow range of professions and backgrounds. Our Unexpected Mentor campaign aims to break mentoring stereotypes and inspire a new generation of mentors from all walks of life and backgrounds.
“Our Unexpected Mentor campaign builds on our mentoring fund which has already invested nearly £500,000 in proven mentoring organisations in the West Midlands region such as the Diana Award and Envision.
“We are delighted to have launched this campaign with Andy Street and to be collaborating with Mayor’s Mentors across the West Midlands. We want to ensure even more young people can benefit from the power of this human connection.”
The collaboration was announced on National Mentoring Day, Friday October 27, at Delta Financial Systems in Birmingham, which won Microsoft Apprentice Employer of the Year in 2012 and 2016 for its work in supporting young people in the workplace.
The launch heard from Avneet Sanghera, a 27-year-old project manager from Great Barr, Birmingham, who already acts as a mentor, and Tukeer Hussain, a 19-year-old businessman from Moseley, Birmingham, who was mentored.
Both described how they felt they had benefitted from mentoring.
The Mayor’s Mentors was launched immediately after Mr Street was elected in May this year.
It has signed up 1,000 people to become mentors but the scheme aims to recruit 4,000 in its second year and 10,000 in its third.
Mr Street has taken a mentee – Imani Clough, aged 24, from Moseley, Birmingham, who is studying at Birmingham University.
To become a mentor people must be either a professional or retired professional and have to complete a mandatory profile and training package. To apply go to http://westmidlands.onemillionmentors.org.uk
PICTURE CAPTION – MENTORS1: Michael Power, chief executive officer of Delta Financial Systems, left, Rushanara Ali MP, Tukeer Hussain, Avneet Sanghera, Claudia Harris, and Andy Street.
PICTURE CAPTION – MENTORS2: Tukeer Hussain, left, Andy Street and Avneet Sanghera.
PICTURE CAPTION – MENTORS3: Michael Power, left, Tukeer Hussain, Rushanara Ali MP, Claudia Harris, Avneet Sanghera and Andy Street.
PICTURE CAPTION – MENTORS4: Andy Street with his mentee Imani Clough.