London, 01 Aug 2016
Every Monday night at a London high school in Hackney, a group of suited professionals sit one-on-one with 14-year-old students to talk about all manner of things – from homework to football, school life, the weather and back again to football.
The mentors and mentees meet as part of a ReachOut programme designed to raise the aspirations and confidence of young people in disadvantaged communities.
Originally set up by a group of university students who wanted to make a lasting change in the community, ReachOut originated with just 20 young people from Manchester in 1994.
In 2004, they expanded to London and now also work in Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Camden and Haringey. Mentors from multiple companies and universities are involved.
“Abokar is my mentee and he is there every week without fail,” says Hannah Fitzgerald, a mentor and Macquarie London staff member. “He is very committed and while it took him a while to warm up to me he’s a lot less shy now.”
Mentors assist mentees with self-confidence through numeracy, literacy and communication improvements, while reinforcing values of fairness, self-control, good judgement and staying power.
“As a mentor, I bring a focus on stability and character building and work with Abokar on the virtues he wants to work on," Fitzgerald says.
"I also support him with homework and we talk about what’s happening in his life. It’s something for me to commit to and it brings consistency to Abokar. It’s also really satisfying to bond with other Macquarie team members who are mentors.”
Over the last school term, Fitzgerald worked with Abokar on his confidence and aspirations to be able to talk in front of a group of people.
“At the end of the last term he had progressed to the point where he stood up in front of a group as part of a ‘Dragon’s Den’ exercise. He was very confident during his presentation and had completely transformed during the term. It was wonderful to see,” says Fitzgerald.
Macquarie staff also recently hosted a group of students in its London office as part of a ‘World of Work’ day, an annual initiative which gives students an insight into what it’s like in the working world.
Participating students toured the office, attended a staff presentation and participated in a ‘mock interview’ session to help develop their interview skills.
Image caption: ReachOut students at a ‘World of Work Day’ held in Macquarie’s London office earlier this year.