As a primary school pupil, many many years ago, my dreams of becoming a journalist, were just that, dreams.
Like many Bangladeshi girls in my school, I thought I too would end up working in one of the textile factories in Rochdale where I grew up, or if I was really lucky, I might get a job as a receptionist in an office.
No one was pushing me to become a writer, a doctor, a social worker, or accountant or a teacher.
Why such low expectations?
First off all back in the 80s there were no role models from the local community.
There was no-one telling me that I can do what ever I wanted if I worked hard enough for it. I wasn’t inspired by anyone, university was seen as something for rich children, and way out of reach for many of my classmates.
I didn’t come across role models, in particular from the Asian community, there were definitely none on mainstream TV or radio.
At school especially, there was no-one to tell me otherwise.
Which is why six months ago I joined Mosaic.
The Prince’s Charities’ initiative launched in 2007 to help inspire young people from some of the UK’s most deprived communities to realise their talents and potential through its mentoring programme.
As part of the programme, Mosaic runs mentoring for mothers and daughters at primary schools.
Female mentors, who come from a range of professional backgrounds, help to raise the aspirations of young girls, aged between 9 -11 years old. The initiative also helps to empower their mothers to support their daughters to fulfil their potential.
Positive aspiration is crucial in a young person’s life. It helps to empower them, helps to raise their educational attainment, and importantly links these young girls with real life role models, something I never had.
A few years ago I took part in an event run by Manchester City Council called Inspiring Change.
The event brought together female role models from all walks of life to speak with female pupils from some of Manchester’s high schools. It was a successful event and during a workshop with me, the young girls I spoke to told me that they had never considered print journalism as a profession as it wasn’t seen as a career they could possibly have.
Some of the girls were worried because they wore a hijab and thought that it would be a barrier. Of course that is not the case, others told me they had never come across a journalist from their community, until then.
This all just brings home why mentoring is so important.
Greater Manchester has hundreds and hundreds of women who are in successful careers or running their own enterprises, and who would make wonderful role models for these young girls.
I’m taking part this year and I’m hoping to encourage other women to do the same.
All you need is to attend a three hour training session to prepare you for the mentoring, and this takes place next Wednesday evening in Manchester.
Following this, mentors need to give just three hours of their day, once a week for eight weeks to really make a difference to these young girls in helping them to achieve their dreams.
While the mentoring is invaluable to the young girls, for mentors the benefits are enormous, as we can really give back to the community in such a positive way.
This article first appeared in the Manchester Evening News on 30 September 2013.