MPs hear first hand accounts of relationships that change lives

MPs hear first hand accounts of relationships that change lives

Emdad Rahman

SHAATHI Mentoring Project implements an early intervention approach in working with ‘hard to reach’ and ‘dis-engaged’ young people from BME communities. The project is aimed at children and young people between the ages of 8-18 who live, work or study in Tower Hamlets.

Young people may be referred by other agencies or self-refer. Many of these young people have been identified as being ‘at risk’ of becoming excluded from mainstream education, training and employment or engaging in anti-social behaviour and criminality. The only accredited mentoring programme in the LBTH. It attained the Approved Provider Standard (APS) in April 2006.

On Thursday 31st January, Jahanara Yasmin, aged 14, a participant of SHAATHI shared her views and experiences of her mentoring programme with MP’s from across the UK, at the House of Commons. The event was hosted by Communities Minister Hazel Blears MP and the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation (MBFL) to showcase, celebrate and highlight the positive impact of mentoring and befriending programmes in supporting people in their communities. Shaathi was chosen as a model project leading this type of work within the BME community.

Jahanara told the MP’s “I was going through a lot of difficulties in my life, and SHAATHI gave me someone I could call my own, they helped me build my confidence as you can see me on stage right now”. The audience smiled as Jahanara continued “My mentor helped make a timetable, providing additional support and gives me simple advice and guidance”.

Khadeja Begum, Female Development Worker added ‘Our project has helped Jahanara find a place in life and realise what she is capable of achieving. “As her first mentor it helped me acknowledge and appreciate what we often take as granted whilst others are deprived of these basic needs. In supporting young people identify their strengths and weaknesses, you also realise your own. You grow with the young person and that satisfied me the most”.

Hazel Blears MP, Minister for Local Government and Communities, who was hosting the event, said: “Mentoring and Befriending provides valuable support to those at risk of social exclusion or isolation within local communities. “Over 4000 projects within England work closely with individuals to make a real difference to their lives and wellbeing, leading to positive and lasting outcomes.
The event was an eye opener for the MP’s and participants. Jahanara explained this was a memorable and will be a lasting experience for her, especially when Hazel Blears came up and spoke to her.

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