Law firm Shakespeare Martineau LLP has been working with Mosaic for a number of years, with 17 members of staff mentoring on the Enterprise Challenge programme during the last five years alone.
Employees from the firm’s Birmingham office have been particularly active, returning year-on-year to mentor at Handsworth Wood Girls’ Academy.
Mohammed Saqub, a partner in Shakespeare Martineau’s Birmingham office, is also a member of Mosaic’s West Midlands Regional Leadership Group.
Another local school benefiting from Mosaic’s support is Washwood Heath Academy, where Laura Taylor, a paralegal in the construction and engineering team at Shakespeare Martineau in Birmingham, is mentoring.
Having received mentoring support herself while a student through the Aimhigher programme, Laura then volunteered to mentor on the initiative while studying at Aston University. This saw her partnered with a school in Birmingham where she worked with pupils on a 1-2-1 basis.
This positive experience of mentoring meant that when she was introduced to Mosaic by a colleague and heard more about the charity’s work, Laura decided to volunteer as a mentor on Mosaic’s Secondary School programme.
She explained: “The training that I received was really useful and insightful. I mentored at Washwood Heath Academy in Birmingham with a group of 20 Year 7-9 students, both male and female. We went bowling for our rapport building session, which provided a really relaxed and informal environment and great opportunity to meet and find out about the mentees.
“The main issues for the students were self-confidence and not feeling that we were able to challenge the ‘norm’ and voice their own opinions. At the beginning, some were afraid to present their ideas for fear of what others in the group would think, while others had quite a negative attitude, not fully understanding why they had been selected to take part in the programme.
“However, the team of mentors that I was part of worked well together in compiling a variety of sessions to challenge and develop the group, and assist in overcoming these issues and demonstrating how the programme could support and develop their skills.”
Laura believes that the preparation before the programme began was particularly vital. She said: “The training that I initially received and introduction to the resource packages available was really useful and insightful. For our rapport building session we went bowling, which provided a really relaxed and informal environment and a great opportunity to meet and find out about the mentees.”
From a personal perspective, Laura said that one of the highlights of her experience was when one of the female pupils expressed amazement that women could become lawyers.
She said: “I was explaining my journey in the legal profession thus far and she was amazed that females could become lawyers. I found it really moving that that there were still these misconceptions potentially limiting youngsters’ ambitions in life.
“My role as a mentor was to break down some of the financial, social and cultural barriers surrounding career and life ambitions and begin to develop the skills (self-confidence, self-esteem, communication and team work) that students would require regardless of their end goals.
Laura added: “I have learned to appreciate the impact that I can make on other people’s development and how best to utilise that. Overall it was extremely rewarding that I had helped to assist a group of young people to develop their life skills.”