Sadia Ahmad is from Bradford and works at Highways England, which is based in Leeds. Sadia’s role sees her primarily focussing on equality, diversity and inclusion and helps support the organisation to deliver against the Public Sector Equality Duty.
Sadia is a mentor on Mosaic’s Ex- Offender Programme and has been volunteering for over a year at HMP Leeds (Armley).
Sadia’s employer is extremely supportive of the voluntary mentoring work she does with Mosaic. As a forward thinking organisation, they actively encourage employees to take part in volunteering opportunities and allow three working days per year towards this for all staff.
She enjoys mentoring and explains what originally motivated her to become a mentor:
“I worked on a mentoring programme at my previous place of work, HM Revenue & Customs. This was as part of a Positive Action career management programme called ‘Embrace’ aimed at black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees, due to the underrepresentation of BAME staff in middle management roles. This is where my passion for mentoring came from.”
Sadia believes that mentoring is a rewarding experience and is keen to encourage others to follow her example. She said:
“I do find mentoring hugely satisfying. What has been most rewarding for me is knowing that I have positively influenced an individual who had given up on life and couldn’t see the world outside, which has so much to offer him, and the opportunities available if he wants them.”
Sadia explains that mentors play a valuable role in the community and a programme such as Mosaic’s ex-offender programme can have a huge impact on the offenders’ lives. She said:
“I have learned that there are so many talented people out there who have the potential to turn around their lives and meet their aspirations. All they need is someone to guide them along the way and help them to see that the only barrier stopping them from achieving these aspirations is actually themselves.
“Mentoring can be very challenging and prove to be a real test of character. Gaining the trust of a mentee is not easy, they have often been let down by friends, family, society and people or processes they regarded as a trusted sources. As a result of this and other factors, this often leads to a loss of confidence, tunnel vision and reluctance to take opportunities.”
Despite the challenges Sadia strongly encourages people to support Mosaic, take the opportunity to become a mentor and make a positive difference to someone’s life:
“A good mentor should be open, honest, critical and willing to give constructive feedback. If you feel you have the potential to coach and support a mentee and help them to realise their aspirations, be it work or in their personal life, then mentoring could be for you.
“As a mentor I have learned a great deal, gaining a wealth of experience and knowledge at the same time. I have also discovered so much about myself and I believe reward comes in many forms – it doesn’t always have to be in the form of money.”
Sadia was recently recognised by Mosaic for her contribution to mentoring, being highly commended for her work at HMP Armley in Leeds. She said:
“I am absolutely honoured to have received this award, and I thank Mosaic for giving me the opportunity to work with them to give something back to the community and supporting someone to making a difference to their life.”
Looking to the future, Sadia plans to keep up her mentoring:
“I will continue to support Mosaic’s mentoring programme, rising to the challenge of mentoring ex-offenders and will encourage people I know to do the same.”