As I'm sure is common in most jobs, there's a certain rhythm to the year at Mosaic, the charity that I proudly serve as Managing Director.
There are moments that occur at a similar time each year and therefore act as clues to what might be happening in the world around us.
The dark, winter months are brightened considerably by our various celebration events at which we pause to thank the dozens of volunteer mentors that deliver our programmes so successfully; our Enterprise Challenge competition runs its course as Winter cedes to Spring; and as we're about to begin another international football tournament, the Mosaic calendar turns to the Summer term's Primary School graduations.
Our mentoring programme in primary schools mainly involves our mentors working with young girls and their mothers in areas of deprivation within the UK. We recruit members of the business community to act as role models for the girls and they work with them and their mothers to build confidence, foster communication skills and open their eyes to the almost limitless possibilities that are available to them once they've finished in education.
In some communities, there remains a culture of low aspiration for young women who are often expected to be good wives and patient mothers. As a father of four girls myself, I would be more than happy if any or all of them decided that they were happy being married and focusing on bringing up their children. At Mosaic, however, we believe that all young people should have the guidance and encouragement they need to achieve self-efficacy in adult life and succeed in whatever they choose to do. In other words, we work hard to remove all barriers, whether they be economic or social, societal or self-imposed, to achieve an equality of both opportunity and aspiration for pupils around the UK. Simply, we want the girls we work with to be supported by their families to make the most of their talents and not to consider any door closed to them.
Image copyright held by the author
I'm proud of what the primary school programme achieves and it's important to me that we make the effort to celebrate the girls' success in the manner that we do, with red graduation robes, high-profile speakers and, most heart-warmingly of all, the pupils themselves speaking publicly about what they've learnt during the mentoring programme.
One of the guest speakers at our London graduation ceremony, Baroness Williams of Trafford, clearly shared this notion. She commented: "We have some of the most hard-working and talented young people in the world and Mosaic's mentoring programme is evidently inspiring the eloquent speakers I have seen here today. I am a firm believer that everyone can benefit from positive role models in their life and I am delighted to hear that these pupils have exciting plans for their future."
There's something profoundly satisfying about the image accompanying this blog, captured at one of the recent London graduations that took place at the House of Lords. A group of culturally diverse, confident girls filling the air with the red of their graduation caps, against the ornate and historic backdrop of a parliament building that has been dominated for so long by, frankly, old, white men.
It's a vision of Britain that makes me extremely hopeful about the future.
We're already putting plans in place to deliver our mentoring programmes during the next academic year, beginning in September 2016. If you'd like to join our team of volunteer mentors and help us inspire a new cohort of young people then we'd love to hear from you. You can find more information and sign-up here.