The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today announced the delivery partner of his mentoring scheme that has attracted over 1,700 volunteers to spend their spare time mentoring young black boys in need of strong positive role models.
In the capital, a disproportionate number of young black teenagers are involved in, or fall victim to violent crime. The University of East London will lead a consortium of organisations which are set to address this issue by rolling out the Mayor’s mentoring scheme to hundreds of boys aged 10 – 16. The youngsters will be targeted across seven boroughs where young black boys are most at risk of crime.
The scheme has been developed by the Mayor’s Mentoring Ambassador Ray Lewis, who runs the East Side Academy which successfully helps boys at risk of exclusion and it is championed by football legend Ian Wright, who has helped turn around the lives of many young offenders through mentoring.
The Mayor was in Leyton today at the Epicentre to see some of the adult volunteers participating in a mentoring workshop with potential young mentees.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “Through no fault of their own there are some young boys in our city in desperate need of a strong male role model. I want my scheme to reach out to those who may fall prey to the lure of gangs and violence and place them with positive, hard working males who can help guide them.
“The influence of a positive role model can be immeasurable and I’d like to thank all the outstanding volunteers who have come forward and encourage even more people to get on board.”
Ian Wright said: “Mentoring can give you the best feeling in the world – nothing beats knowing you’ve helped people change for the better. I was raised under the theory it takes a village to raise a child and this is a philosophy that lends itself to this scheme. It’s all too easy to criticise and stigmatise young people as bad, especially if you see them hanging round the streets and making noise, but it’s much harder to look at yourself and think is there anything I can do to help them? I was lucky enough to have a brilliant mentor when I was a kid and he helped me develop my passion for football into a great career. To me that was priceless and I hope this scheme gives many other boys the same opportunities.”
The boys will have face to face contact with mentors for at least two hours a week. The parents of the mentees will involved in the matching process and will help select a suitable mentor. Once ‘matched’ the mentors will work on individual tailored programmes to help their mentees reach their full potential. This may include sports activities, help with literacy and home work, and offering firm advice and help with any issues the young person is dealing with. Mentors will be given thorough training to prepare them for their new roles.
Seventeen year old Aaron Harriott was successfully mentored and would now like to mentor and help other young people.
Aaron Harriott said: “I first became mentored at 11 and to be honest in the beginning I didn’t like being told what to do and was quite rebellious. But after while I realised that my mentor was trying to help me. He found out I liked sports so we got to know each other by play table tennis and snooker, all the things I like doing. After that we’d have some serious conversations about how things were going with me, and it was nice to talk to someone who wasn’t a parent but had my interests at heart. I think it’s really important for people my age to have someone show them what they can do with their lives. I currently play professional football, which is my dream job, and I believe that mentoring has helped me achieve this. In a few years in my spare time I’d like to help another young person as well.”
Ray Lewis said: “This programme is all about preventative work and catching boys before they fall into a vicious circle of crime. Let’s be honest, many of our boys are growing up in single parent house holds with no father figures. Although there are many strong women raising boys single handedly, mentoring can help lighten their load and have a dramatic, positive effect. No child is born a criminal and we’re trying to intervene and help build resilience to the temptations of joining a gang or resorting to violence to resolve problems. It is easy to criticise our young people who behave badly but unfortunately some have never been taught right from wrong and mentoring is a real solution.”
The seven boroughs involved in the scheme are Brent, Croydon, Hackney, Haringey, Lambeth, Waltham Forest and Southwark.The Mayor is awarding £1.3m funding for the Mentoring Programme to a consortium led by the University of East London and featuring London Action Trust, Robert Levy Foundation, The Soul Project, and YourStory.
The Mentoring programme is a key element of Team London, the Mayor’s ambitious vision to get more people volunteering in the capital and to help tackle some of the cities social issues.
Notes to editors:
1. UEL will take direct mentor referrals, vet and train these mentors, lead and support the community based organisations, supervise mentoring relationships, and act as a central point for the collection of monthly monitoring information. UEL will build strong referral pathways for the mentees and mentors engaging in the Mayor’s Mentoring Programme. LAT and the three other local deliverers (community based organisations) will report to UEL and have responsibility for the recruitment, vetting, matching and supervision of mentors and mentees in their borough.
2.The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee report “Young Black People in the Criminal Justice System” (2007) noted that young black people are overrepresented at all stages of the criminal justice system – charge, remand, conviction and sentence.
3. For more information about the mentoring scheme please visit: www.london.gov.uk/get-involved/volunteering/public/types-of-volunteering/community
4. For more information about team London please visit www.london.gov.uk/teamlondon
5. For more information on Time For Action the Mayor's plan on tackling youth violence visit http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/crime-community-safety/tackling-priority-crimes/tackling-youth-violence
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