This is an encouraging result, showing the commitment of Londoners to improve the lives of those who are in need of a strong male role model and help those who are liable to become involved in gangs and violent crime, or those who already have, by providing ongoing stability and guidance.
Young black boys are statistically most likely to be affected by crime as victims or perpetrators, often becoming involved in gangs to improve their sense of security. This is why this mentoring scheme is so valuable, offering an alternative to a life of crime, and is why it is such a positive result that so many have come forward. We are looking for people who are hardworking and inspiring, and have perhaps even gone through some of the difficulties which their mentees are facing now.
The mentors will be trained at City Hall and will mentor a black boy, aged between 10 and 16, for a period of one year, although they will have the option of continuing beyond that. Mentees will be chosen by a variety of different critera, such as those who have already had contact with the criminal justice system and it is believed that having a mentor could help them, or those who are struggling at school or failing to attend. The purpose of the scheme is to prevent people from turning to a life of crime and to help those who have already got into trouble, often through no fault of their own, to get their lives back on track.
The ultimate aim is that mentees will trust their mentors and turn to them for advice and guidance during a difficult time in their lives. The mentors will act as role models and provide important support, such as helping them make important choices. Such a role can be extremely crucial to the wellbeing of their mentees, as they may help them make an important life choice, such as to remain in education and get academic qualifications, or to take an apprenticeship, which may help them in the long run to have a successful career. In cases where these boys lack a male role model in their lives, the continued presence of someone whom they can trust and turn to for advice can make a huge difference and potentially be life-changing.
Ian Wright, who had a mentor during his teens and has gone on to have an extremely successful career as a professional footballer, is endorsing the scheme, and is mentoring boys as well so that he can give something back. This shows how successful such a scheme can be, and the fact that we have had so many volunteers means that we should have a large pool of applicants from which to choose inspirational people, as the success of this scheme relies on the quality of the mentors to make it work. I think that the high number of applicants shows the genuine desire of Londoners to help the less fortunate, and I believe that this is a positive initiative which will reach out to many young Londoners and directly improve the quality of their lives.
I encourage you all to find out more about the scheme (london.gov.uk/get-involved) and consider signing up.