Ok, I might sound a bit shallow, but everyone loves nice cakes don’t they? I knew the Mosaic mentoring training was gonna be good when I saw the very delicious looking selection of fancy cakes and biscuits… yumm yumm!
The whole training evening was just as good as, if not better, than the cakes! There were around 30 women volunteering to share their time, energy and experiences to help others, and there was a really great atmosphere in the room, as everyone was there because they wanted to be. The mentors were of all ages and cultural and professional backgrounds: including a retired police officer, University students, doctors and support workers – which just highlights than anyone can become a mentor, if they really want to make a difference. It’s about who you are as a person, and not what you do.
I did think it a bit strange that we had a male trainer in a room full of women, who would be working with women and girls… hmm, would he ‘get’ us? Actually, he did! Michael’s opening was a bit controversial, and it worked! He got us talking, sharing, exploring, thinking, challenging and much more.
The session gave me a real insight into the Mosaic story, and how much impact mentoring can have on impressionable youngsters who could use their mentoring opportunity to shape their own stories for the future.
The 3 hours flew by, and I left knowing that I’d made the right choice to become a Mosiac Mentor and looking forward to getting started!
First Day at School (and more cake :))
I almost felt like putting on a school uniform! My first day at Arden Primary School was about seeing the school, meeting the staff and of course, meeting our group of Mosaic Mentors – wahey!
I’d driven past Arden School lots of times, but never really looked at it. I was well impressed from the minute I walked in – a really, fresh, modern and welcoming building with lots of bright and eye-catching ‘bits’ to look at in reception – from a whole school photo, to Harry Potter stuff to motivational quotes on the walls… All I was thinking at this stage was, “I wanna go to school here”!
Mosaic’s West Midlands Regional Manager Annalisa Lockett gathered her brood of mentors, and introduced us all to the very friendly and obviously excited school staff working with Mosaic, Parent Co-ordinator Robina and Deputy Head Gurjeet. It was so motivating for me to see their passion and enthusiasm for making this project happen, and for them to share the impact they knew it would have on their families. It was great to see the Deputy Head commit to being involved with the project for its duration, and showed the importance the school was giving to this project.
All of us mentors were excited to be there, so it really was a bit like the first day back at school, with new friends, as most of us were first time Mosaic mentors. Nasrin was the most experienced and kindly offered to be the lead mentor for the group, which gave the rest of us the reassurance of knowing we had an experienced mentor in the group.
This session was all about introductions, talking through the session plans, generating ideas to make sure everything was implemented in the best way for the mentees to gain the most out of their time. Oh, and some more tea and cake too :).
We’re a very mixed bunch of mentors – we’ve got a GP, Students, Civil Servants, a business woman, single women, mums, wives; we’re in our twenties, thirties and possibly even forties! We’re all totally normal women who do different things in our daily lives, but are connected by being women who want to give something back and make the world a little bit better for someone else.
By the end of the session, we were all clearer on what the next steps were. Nasrin set up a WhatsApp group within an hour of us leaving (fast worker!!) and it was great to read everyone’s messages about how excited they were and how much we were all looking forward to the first session with the girls and their mums.
Mums, Mentees and Mentors!
Our first session today and it’s all about mentors and mentees getting to know each other. I think most of us mentors were just as nervous as the mentees!! We got in the room and were hit by the big, bright Big Sisters posters pinned to the walls of the room, showing inspirational Muslim women from our very own City of Birmingham – go girls!!
We all chatted for a bit and waited for the 12 or so year 5 and 6 girls to arrive… we heard them before we saw them! It was great to see and hear how excited they were when they came into the room and took their seats, amongst all the mentors – I’d forgotten how excitable a group of 9 and 10 year olds could be! I remember looking around the room, and seeing the same look of excitement on the faces of the other mentors as I could see on the girls faces!!
We had a great session, with Annalisa sharing the Mosaic story and getting the girls think big about what they wanted from the project… and we all took part in a hectic, frantic ice-breaker dashing around trying to talk to everyone and finding someone who was wearing blue socks or who couldn’t swim! The girls loved it – and so did the big girls! They all said they were looking forward to the next session and looked like very happy bunnies as they went back to class.
And then the mentors go to do it all over again – this time with the moms! I do think they may have been just as noisy as their daughters!! But it was wonderful to see so many of moms in the room, having passed their daughters, who knew that mom was there for them… a really lovely moment for me. The mums were just as enthusiastic as their daughters and each and every one took part in the ice-breaker, although we dashed a little less frantically than we had an hour ago – we were more refined and ladylike with the moms :).
A couple of the moms couldn’t speak English confidently, so as mentors we teamed up with a mom who needed some support to make sure she was fully included. It was great to have been part of the session. The mums loved the thought of going to University and their faces lit up when they saw the slides of what they’d be getting up during the programme. I think most of us mentors felt the same way to be honest!
It’s amazing how just one hour with each group can set the mood for the whole 10 week programme. It was obvious that the school has a really strong and positive relationship with their parents and families, and plays a central role in the community. Everyone who was involved in today was enthusiastic, energetic, passionate, excited, motivated and ready for more from Mosaic Mentoring. And as a mentor, I feel really proud to be involved in what will be a life-changing experience for some of the girls and mums involved, and can’t wait to see what we’ll achieve in ten weeks!!