CEO of Manningam Housing, Ansar has been mentoring at Carlton Bolling College, so committed that he has changed meeting times to attend his sessions and is always prepared ahead of starting. Ansar also signed up to the offender mentoring Programme and was extremely well received over the weekend of training in March. Ansar has never disappointed, he turns up on time, with all the correct resources, following instructions to the detail again ensuring his paperwork etc is always completed perfectly and timely. He has already received his security clearance and CRB well ahead of others.
Following this Ansar offered out the opportunity to run a WoW visit at a construction site close to the school he is based at to discuss work opportunities in housing and also look at the variety of jobs within the sector. Ansar has also referred 2 new mentors to us to get started in September and is already pushing his small staff team at the office to get involved in Mosaic ensuring they receive appropriate support from Manningham Housing with the employee volunteering scheme he is since introducing.
How long have you been volunteering as a Mosaic mentor for?
I only started in March this year (2013).
What motivated you to want to become a mentor?
I have seen previously what difference it can make to a young person’s life when you show an interest and offer a bit of support and guidance. It might sound a bit trite but I do believe that we should all take some responsibility for improving the community that we are part of. Unfortunately however for the last very many years I have been so busy with and absorbed in my job that I have not managed to find any time to do any work of this kind. I wanted to re-prioritise things and I heard Nabila Ayub, the Yorkshire Regional Manager, speak so passionately at an event about Mosaic and I was persuaded to sign up. I am so glad that I did.
Please tell us about a particular rewarding or special experience you have had as a mentor
Many but I remember that we did a session on developing confidence for the group to be able to speak in front of others. One of the girls told me on the following occasion that she had been due to give a presentation later that week and our session had given her much more confidence and she was very happy with how it went. She was very happy and said she wanted to thank me. Things like that make it worthwhile.
What have you found challenging about mentoring?
I have done coaching and mentoring both formally and informally previously in a work situation. Most of this has been on a one-to-one basis and of course with adults. Working with a group and a group of teenagers is different to state the obvious. It is quite challenging to keep their attention and keep them all engaged all of the time. You need to make the maximum use of your creative resources.
And what do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I am employed as the Chief Executive of Manningham Housing Association. We provide housing (including rented, shared ownership and outright sales) and associated services for the diverse communities of Bradford.
Recently I have become involved in a project in response to the sexual grooming cases that have been in the news a lot over the last year or so. We were struck by the details that have emerged about the extreme suffering and violence used against the victims who are often young children. Together Against Grooming, as the name suggests, is about working with as many people and agencies as possible to raise awareness on the issue and looking at practical ways at which the issue can be addressed. Between my work, this project and my family I am kept quite busy!
Would you recommend being a Mosaic mentor to others?
I would definitely recommend it. Mentoring can be a rewarding experience, both personally and professionally. You can improve your communication skills, learn new perspectives and ways of thinking, advance your career, and gain a great sense of personal satisfaction.
What makes a good mentor?
It sounds obvious but having a real interest in the individual that you are supporting. Only get involved if you can give a real commitment. If you deliver one session and then miss a couple, for example, the mentees experience of the programme will be a poor one and they will feel let down.
You need to be able to motivate and inspire but it is a myth that you need to be some kind of super-human being to be able to do that. Being there for them, taking an interest in them and helping them to work through their goals is often how you can motivate and inspire.
Proper preparation for each session is critically important. Don’t turn up and try and wing it. Make sure you follow up issues from the last session and you need to think hard about how you are going to keep a group of teenagers engaged for a full hour. Make sure you challenge them and get them out of their comfort zone but also make it fun.
Would you like to be a mentor like Ansar? We are recruiting more mentors across the UK and we would love to hear from you. Find out more about how you can get involved.