THE BLOG

Away From the Boardroom, Business Brains Can Transform Lives

12/10/2015 12:10 BST | Updated 11/10/2016 10:12 BST

In recent months, there seems to have been an increase in the frequency with which the word 'mentor' is cropping up in policy documents and boardroom discussions in companies across the UK. A quick Google search reveals a growing realisation that investing time and resources into corporate mentoring programmes can lead to significant increases in staff morale, productivity and efficiency.

This should come as no surprise. All of us perform better when we're supported by our peers; problems seem smaller, goals seem more achievable and a little reassurance that we're on the right track is often the only spur we need to go on and do something amazing.

As a charity, Mosaic is fully committed to mentoring because we've first-hand knowledge of its power to transform lives. This is not hyperbole. This is a demonstrable fact. And it's one that has recently received Royal approval.

Last month, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales visited one of our mentoring programmes at HMP Leeds where he was able to see how Mosaic's work is significantly lowering levels of reoffending. This is a key area for the Home Office, given the 60% reoffending rate for short-term prisoners and the remarkable fact that this figure can be cut by 50% if an offender leaves prison with secured accommodation and employment.

Mosaic has developed particular expertise in understanding the nuances of engaging with Muslim prisoners, which as of 2015 accounted for 15% of the total prison population. Amongst young offenders the rate is even higher, with 22% of people under the age of 18 held in young offender institutions identifying themselves as Muslim. This is in contrast to the last Census results, which put the UK Muslim population as under 5% of the total UK population.

We have mentored over 200 individuals in 10 prisons since our prisons programme began in 2007; delivering a 20% reduction in reoffending rates amongst mentees and saving the taxpayer an estimated £3m.

But our work is not limited to prisons; we also work in schools where the benefits of mentoring are no less significant. Last year, across 250 schools, 1,200 volunteers supported over 6,500 young people, 80% of which were drawn from 20% of the most deprived parts of the UK. All of our mentors are trained to support these young people, encourage in them high aspirations and promote to them crucial personal skills such as resilience, confidence and self-efficacy.

However, our capacity to make a positive intervention in people's lives is defined in no small part by the number of volunteers who are willing to give up their time to help. We're particularly keen to recruit mentors from the business community as they not only bring great, real-world experience to the role but are also the personification of that which we are striving to achieve. There's nothing more persuasive than sitting in a room with someone who tells you, 'look, I've made it and you can make it too'.

My hope is that as mentoring continues to grow as a force for positive change within business that employees and employers, flushed with its success in the corporate world will be encouraged to give up some time to volunteer with Mosaic. The commitment of time won't be onerous and volunteers will be helping to raise aspirations, lower crime and ensure that disadvantaged and vulnerable people are given the confidence that they need to triumph.

If you would like to help inspire and guide young adults become a Mosaic mentor. For more information please call 020 7566 8734, visit www.mosaicnetwork.co.uk or email mosaic@bitc.org.uk