‘Our young people need you’ – Mayor issues rallying cry as mentoring scheme smashes 10,000 target

More than 10,000 young people have received personal mentoring on how to kickstart their careers or get back into work thanks to a flagship scheme led by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street.

The Mayor’s Mentors programme has smashed its original target of recruiting 10,000 people willing to draw on their life and work experiences to personally guide and inspire a young person setting out on their own life journey.

But the scheme has taken on added significance in recent months as young people bear the economic brunt of the Covid 19 pandemic.

‘Our young people need you’ – Mayor issues rallying cry as mentoring scheme smashes 10,000 target

Pictured at the Mayor’s Mentors round table event are (clockwise from bottom left) Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, mentor Iain McGhee, mentee Emma van Dun, mentor Gordon Shipley and mentee Luis James

Only last week the annual Prince’s Trust Tesco Youth Index Report, that researches young people’s happiness and confidence level, showed almost a quarter of young people do not feel confident about their future work and that a quarter felt unable to cope with life.

Now the Mayor and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) have issued a ‘Our Young People Need You’ rallying cry, urging even more people to get involved in the scheme.

The Mayor said: “The willingness of so many people from so many walks of life to give up their personal time to take a young person under their wing has been brilliant.

“When we launched Mayor’s Mentors we knew our 10,000 target was ambitious but we also knew how big a heart this region has and that has been borne out in the way people have come forward in such big numbers.

“But our young people now need our help more than ever. Many of them work in those industries hardest hit by the pandemic like hospitality and retail and many have lost their jobs or been furloughed.

“Whilst we are putting a variety of schemes in place to help our young people get back into work as soon as possible, a guiding hand and words of wisdom from someone with years of employment experience would also go a long way at such a difficult time. I would urge anyone who thinks they can lend a helping hand to get involved in Mayor’s Mentors.”

The scheme is aimed at young people aged between 11 and 25. It started in June 2017 and to date a total of 10,697 young people have been mentored by volunteers – making it the biggest scheme of its kind in the country.

Emma van Dun, aged 28, from Balsall Heath, a registered nutritionist, personal trainer and yoga instructor, is being mentored by Iain McGhee, who has run Cobalt Interactive Ltd, a small audio-visual company in Birmingham, for 15 years. Most of his business is international trade.

The pair, who were introduced to each other by The Prince’s Trust, as part of the Enterprise programme that helps young people start their own business, met the Mayor at a recent round table event organised by the charity to celebrate the success of mentoring in the region.

Emma van Dun said: “I set up my business, My Health Target, when I was made redundant from my previous job last spring. I feel lifestyle services really benefit people, especially at this time when health and wellbeing are more important than ever. I offer a holistic, one-to-one healthy lifestyle service with nutrition, exercise and yoga and I deliver healthy lifestyle workshop packages to groups in the community and other organisations including schools and universities. What I appreciate most about my mentor, Iain, is him sharing his real-life experience in running a successful business. I realised that although you can plan as much as you like, running a business in practice can still be full of surprises. Iain helps me deal with those real-life situations.

“My business is going well. This month I have just gained my first client, who wants to do a virtual 12-week healthy lifestyle programme with me. I’m also currently running a four-week virtual healthy lifestyle project on Zoom with a community centre to help them make healthy lifestyle changes and I’m starting a four-week live cookery workshop in February. I’m thrilled and grateful to the Prince’s Trust and my mentor for supporting me.”

Iain McGhee said: “I was slightly nervous about mentoring Emma because I’m an engineer with no experience in her business sector, and it was my first time as a mentor. But I found it was fine. I was able to help her understand what people are looking for and what would appeal more, and we honed her products slightly so that people could immediately see what was on offer. I also advised Emma on the financial side and on how to market a business.

“I’ve found mentoring to be a really rewarding experience and would definitely recommend it to other people.”

Mentors will typically meet with a young person, either face to face or virtually, once or twice a month for an hour to discuss the young person’s studies and career opportunities.

The programme is run in partnership with One Million Mentors, The Prince’s Trust, Just Straight Talk, Evolve, Youth Zone, Diana Award, Volunteer It Yourself and Sport4life.

People who have been successful in their careers and who want to help young people just starting out, retraining or moving into new work, can make a difference by becoming a Mayor’s Mentor.

To find out more about becoming a mentor, visit www.wmca.org.uk/mayorsmentors/

Watch a video taken from the round table event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3z2514LiVI&feature=youtu.be

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