Mosaic mentor Noel Stephenson is today appealing for more local businesses and their staff to get involved in mentoring with the charity.
Over 6,500 primary and secondary school pupils from across the UK are set to benefit from Mosaic’s mentoring programmes this academic year, an increase of 20 per cent from last year.
Noel from Ilkley, West Yorkshire has been a mentor with Mosaic for two years; working with young people from Yorkshire’s most deprived communities experiencing first-hand the positive impact mentoring can have on the more vulnerable groups in the region.
He decided to get involved with Mosaic after hearing about the charity and its work from a work colleague. After finding out more, he signed up as a mentor for the Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge, a national business competition run by Mosaic.
Noel had already noticed the struggle some young people within his own community were experiencing in finding employment as they left full time education. He explained: “My wife works with refugees, helping them to escape abusive and harrowing lives and she would often come home with stories that left me in despair yet I was inspired by their bravery. Though these people were highly skilled, they were struggling to find employment in the UK and I saw that the same was happening in my own community; that a gap exists between young adults finishing their school education and struggling with what to do next, ending up on life’s waste tip.
“I thought that I could relate my own experience of growing up in a single parent family, being of a mixed race background and having no real support at home, back to these children and help them see that they too can break the mould.”
The Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge competition helps thousands of young people aged 11 to 16 years old from across the UK, to increase their aspirations, confidence, self-belief and self-motivation by having providing them with and effective role-models to look up to and engage with. The competition is designed to help students learn about establishing and running a business through an interactive business simulation game whilst building their confidence and come up with fantastic business ideas. The highest scoring teams present their business idea at a regional finals event, after which the regional winners compete in a national Grand Final where the overall winner is announced.
Noel credits his mentoring experience to his own personal development. His highlight so far was leading his team to success when he mentored five students from St Bede’s Catholic Grammar School to the Finals of the 2014 Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge competition where the team were declared overall winners.
Commenting on the experience, Noel said: “When I think back to the very first mentoring session I held with the team and compare it to where they are now, I would challenge anyone to not recognise the impact that mentoring has. Simple things like giving these children a voice and room to express themselves with no fear of being judged has had a fantastic impact on their confidence. The interaction between the team has blossomed and allowed them to work together and come up with a winning business idea which they are now starting to put into action.
“I recognise that people are busy. With work and home life being as it is today, the commitment may scare some potential mentors from getting involved. However the reality is that you can make a real difference by giving up as little as six hours over a twelve week programme.
“It is vital that business leaders and individuals such as myself and my follow mentors help show these young people what options are open to them, despite their background and help them feel confident in their abilities and install a sense of purpose and ambition for the future.
“Mentoring is such a humbling and rewarding investment of time. My own experience as a mentor has enabled me to develop in a number of ways, not least in how I communicate with my own children. I wish when I was at school someone had given me some focus or goals to work towards. I am sure if more people got involved, we could make even more of a difference to these children’s lives.”
Mentor Training for the Enterprise Challenge is starting in your area now. If you would like to help inspire and guide these young adults to help them reach their potential and would like further information about mentoring please call 020 7566 8734 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org