It’s a sunny July day and I’m on the way to the Square Mile to meet Mpho and his mentor, Scott. Mpho is mid-way through a week’s office experience with Scott’s company and I’m here to find out how it’s going. Both are taking part in TimeBank’s City Opportunities project which matches young care leavers with a volunteer mentor from the City and have been involved in the scheme for the past six months.
We’ve arranged to catch up over lunch and Mpho bounds over to me ahead of his mentor, suited, booted and smiling. He’s keen to tell me all he’s discovered at his new workplace and over sandwiches he talks excitedly about life in a City office. Having just finished his final year degree exams, he’s spending the week shadowing two senior managers, one in the IT department and one in legal compliance.
The highlight of the experience so far has been a video link to the Tokyo office which has given the week a really international flavour. It’s been a hectic few days, but it hasn’t put him off life in the Square Mile and he’s even more sure it’s for him!
As well as helping Mpho to gain experience in his office, Scott has also been supporting him with job related skills such as CV writing, completing job applications and preparing for interviews. Reflecting on the last six months, Mpho feels that support has been invaluable and he has been able to call on Scott for help whenever he needs it. He advises any young person anxious about taking part in the scheme to just ‘give it a go’ and jump straight in. Scott has found the experience just as fulfilling, saying that he’s ‘always looked forward’ to catching up with Mpho and enjoyed being able to offer the benefit of his experience.
The relationship has been so successful, in fact, that the pair plan to continue to meet up even though the mentoring has officially finished, with Scott supporting Mpho through the next stage of his career and assisting him to gain a paid graduate role. First of all, though Mpho’s off to Ibiza on holiday, to blow off some steam after the stresses of his final few weeks at university!
I watch them both head back to work, feeling really pleased that City Opportunities has made such a tangible difference in a young person’s life, sure that Mpho will very soon get that City job that he so much desires and deserves, and grateful to the City of London Economic Development office and Team London for funding this wonderful project.
If you’d like to take part in City Opportunities or would like to refer a young person, take a look at the project here, or contact me at Rachel@timebank.org.uk. We’ve had a great response from people willing to mentor, so we're no longer taking on new volunteers, but still have room for young people!