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A thousand mentees later, this programme is closer to breaking the cycle of poverty in the borough

15 Jul 2019

From the outside, the London borough of Islington appears to be a thriving area of affluence. But there’s a sharp divide in the community, with almost half of all children in Islington living in poverty. And with that statistic on the rise, local non-profits are working with young people to spark change.

As a founding funder and member of the BIG Alliance (Businesses for Islington Giving), Macquarie Group has sought to play an integral role in the borough, supporting Islington Giving and the BIG Alliance team to run their education programme, Mentoring Works.

The programme introduces 14-17-year old students to a business environment, developing critical skills they’ll need in the workplace and building their aspirations for the future. This July, the Mentoring Works programme celebrates its 1000th mentee, many of whom have been supported by mentors from Macquarie.

“Since launching the programme in 2012, over 550 students have been supported by over 350 Macquarie volunteers,” explains Rachel Engel, regional head of the Macquarie Group Foundation in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

“We’re committed to this programme because we can see the direct impact it has on the mentees. Our volunteers tell us they enjoy meeting regularly with their students, seeing their potential and watching them develop their skills. It also builds a wider context - seeing how young people today are navigating the world, the challenges they face and how employers can support them in the future. Many of the students are from different communities and cultures to our volunteers which leads to developing diverse thinking and communication skills for both mentor and mentee.”

Investing in a young person’s education can be pivotal to creating a better future.

“Supporting young people to achieve successful future careers is key to breaking the cycle of poverty in Islington. Often disadvantaged students have a limited professional network in the UK, so a mentor is really important to widen their experience and gain an insight into the world of work,” explains Rebecca Lynch, BIG Alliance’s Programme Director. “Our aim is to empower our young people to reach their full career potential.”

Matching students to a business professional who’s invested in their progress is a critical factor in their success. Michael Timmins from Macquarie’s London Office become a mentor this year. He’s loved the opportunity to engage with his mentee and help develop her aspirations.

“The programme is a great way for young people from less privileged backgrounds to gain an insight into a workplace environment, providing role models for students who don’t necessarily know many people who work in an office environment,” he says.

Overwhelmingly mentors say seeing students realise their potential is the best part the programme.

“I developed a really good relationship with my mentee. It was rewarding seeing her grow as the weeks went by. I learnt a lot from her about what it’s like being a young person today and all the pressures they’re under. My mentee inspired me with her enthusiasm for learning and made me realise how much potential the younger generation have.”

Michael says he’s proud to work for an organisation that’s supporting the local community and was excited to learn of his mentee’s success following the programme.  

“My mentee really enjoyed the programme and learnt some useful skills related to CV building and job hunting. As a result of our time together, she managed to secure two work experience placements for the summer.”

The next round of the Mentoring Works programme will commence in September 2019.

Caption: Michael and his mentee at the Mentoring Works program celebration of their 1000th mentee.

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