Bankers, journalists, reformed ex-prisoners and communication strategists are among some of the 100 people who have been enlisted by the Mayor of London to mentor some of the city's most vulnerable youngsters.
The mentors will tonight help launch the new initiative being led by Ray Lewis, city of London's mentoring director, which aims to steer people at risk of offending away from crime and towards education, employment and training.
Tonight I will be working with the Mayor or London's inspirational director of mentoring Ray Lewis , as he leads a new drive to increase the number of mentors available for young Londoners. The programme will bring people from big business together with those who have had a challenging life to provide council and life skills to young Londoners who are at risk of offending or of being not in education, employment or training.
The Mayor's initial mentoring programme launched in his first term has struggled to date, with a slow uptake on pairings despite an initial pledge to sign up 1,000 by March 2012. However, the original scheme has been phased out and tonight we will be talking to 100 new mentors with real life experiences alongside those with academic qualifications. It is important to remember while we do not all come from the same social or socio-economic circles but we all have access to the same twenty-four hours in each day: that is the beauty of a mentoring programme.
The gift of time is much more satisfying and more valuable than money; volunteers have an important role to play in creating positive and lasting change in our communities. Just ask the volunteers who have devoted time at homeless shelters, served meals to elderly citizens, mentored young people from troubled neighbourhoods and those who have travelled abroad for disaster relief.
When you give your time it all depends on how much you can give, what knowledge skills you have and above all what you really care about. Although some people have more free time than others; we can all find time to help if pressed. Mentoring is a highly effective and rewarding way to give that time and the Mayor has put mentoring at the heart of his plans to tackle some of the critical issues facing young people in the capital. The most important thing is that you can give someone time to listen and support them.
You might ask why now. Well, to the simply put it there has not been a better time. London was a special place during the Olympics and part of that was due to the Gamesmakers who volunteered and the impact they made to people who they interacted with. Team London was deployed around the city from the west end to the transport hubs helping people get around town and putting a smile on people's faces.
The last citizenship survey showed 39% of adults in England said that they had volunteered formally at least once in the previous 12 months, with 25% volunteering formally at least once a month. This equates to 16.6 million people in England volunteering formally at least once a year and 10.6 million people in England volunteering formally once a month. If the survey results were equally valid for the UK adult population as a whole, these estimates would increase to 19.8 million (once a year), and 12.7 million (once a month).
So much of modern culture is characterised by self-indulgence and self-destruction. This is an innovative opportunity to pass your skills on to people in local communities. To unite people, to build something and to give.
We need as many volunteers from all walks of life to help - mentoring at a crucial time and can encourage young Londoners to make positive decisions about their education and also help them to resist peer pressure to get involved in gangs or crime. If every Londoner gave just a little, they will almost certainly be educational, enjoyable, rewarding and gain the satisfaction that it would help thousands in our great city.