THE VALUE OF MENTORING
After the 2011 London Riots, The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime [MOPAC] decided to fund more programmes for young people with criminal convictions or on the edge of crime.
“Ultimately I want there to be no kids coming through us,” said Karmen.
“In an ideal world there would be no kids in the system but that’s unrealistic. I am torn, but I obviously want the mentoring projects to sustain the real positivity it is having at the moment.”
Karmen’s role is to manage relationships between mentors and mentees and make sure they are running smoothly and all parties are happy.
“We get referrals from the youth offending team about who they feel would benefit from mentoring and then we meet the young people and their families,” said Karmen. “My job is to recruit volunteers to have mentoring relationships with these young people.”
How helpful does Karmen think mentoring is?
“A lot of issues come down to self-confidence,” said Karmen. “I think that having a person to guide them and ask about their choices without being judgemental can help them build confidence to make the right decisions. And it is good for young people to engage with people outside their family or the services.”
Jennifer Ingole has been mentoring young people with the Trust since November 2014.
"What inspired me to become a mentor were my experiences of being bullied as an early teen and the family difficulties I had at home during that time,” says Jennifer. “I was mentored at school and it helped me gain confidence in myself and made me feel I had a voice. I wanted to help young people feel that same way.”
Karmen is always looking for volunteers but warns that it isn’t something to be taken on lightly.
“Out of five people, usually three will see the training through to the end,” said Karmen. “Some people don’t realise the extent of the training. But if you are coming from the right place you will complete it.”
Jennifer has come a long way since applying to be a volunteer. She is now training other mentors as well as working with young offenders at a neighbouring council.
“The reward of it is being able to go on a journey with this young person and watching them grow into the person they should have been before their challenges,” said Karmen.
Whilst working as a teacher, Karmen studied counselling for three years at Richmond Adult College. She says she was inspired to get involved in counselling and mentoring after witnessing the behaviour of some children at school.
“I used to get on well with the children but I often wondered how a child could turn up at school at 8.30am and be so angry,” said Karmen. “That anger doesn’t come out of nowhere. When I see young people I sometimes ask them to tell me something positive about themselves. They regularly go silent. Whereas I’ve sat with them for two minutes and already see lots of positives.
“I find it incredibly sad that some young people cannot recognise their worth. But if someone else can see it, it has a real impact. It gives them a different way to see themselves – and shifts it slightly.”
YOGA 'KEEPS ME VERTICAL'
Philomena is glad she gave yoga a go because it has changed her life, and perhaps saved it. After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, doctors recommended yoga to help her deal with her illness. More than 20 years later, Philomena is still practicing and works as a yoga instructor for the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.
Her family also have close ties to Brentford FC, with her husband a Season Ticket Holder and her children regularly volunteering for Trust and Club events.
“Yoga helped me look inside and I believe that everything you need is within,” said Philomena. “If you can tap into it; Yoga is what keeps me vertical and still walking.”
Philomena’s yoga sessions are part of the Women Active programme at the Trust, which has been encouraging girls and women to take up more sport. Along with yoga, Women Active have been running a weekly running club over the summer and providing discounted rates for paddle-boarding and kayaking.
Held from 10-11.30am on Wednesdays, the Trust sessions at Isleworth Public Hall are primarily targeted at carers, parents and the retired. However, all are welcome. The sessions are affordable and Philomena has proved very popular with participants.
“She is an inspiration,” says Barbara Benedek, who started the Trust sessions in January. “Her ability to do yoga with MS is amazing and it gives me courage. She is also supportive and encouraging. The sessions are local and easy for me to get to. The stretching is particularly good and I feel very relaxed after each session. I also value the work on building strength.”
Building strength is something Philomena frequently speaks about.
“I have some disabled students and they learn how to see the strength in themselves and how to cope with their disability,” said Philomena. “The older people gain confidence in their abilities. The younger people learn how to focus more on themselves and not compare themselves with their peers. I just see the good everywhere in yoga; everybody should do it.”
After thinking about doing yoga for a while, Colette Bruynseels decided to give it a go after reading about the Trust sessions in Brentford News.
“It came along at the right time,” said Colette. “I do feel better, always relaxed after each session. I’ve got bad knees so it is good to strengthen the muscles. I’m getting on and want to keep strength and suppleness as long into old age as I can.”
Philomena says another great thing about yoga is that it can be enjoyed by everyone.
"We have a lovely lady who is 86 and she taught me ‘you never go on in yoga, you go inward and deeper,’” says Philomena. “Western men don’t tend to go to yoga but Eastern men do. A lot of Asian men grow up with it and it would be nice to see more men at the sessions.”
MO FARAH BRINGS OLYMPIC LEGACY TO HOUNSLOW
"What is really emotional for me is the involvement of Mo and Tania. To come back and put this much into the Hounslow community is something I am incredibly proud of. This is what Olympic legacy is about."
These were the words of former PE teacher Alan Watkinson, the man who helped runner Mo Farah grow into one of Britain’s most decorated athletes.
On August 27th, both men returned to the place the journey had started – Feltham Community College – to launch a new local sports programme called Motivate Hounslow. This initiative aims to motivate young people in Hounslow aged between 14 and 25 to take up sport, or take their talents to the next level.
"I thank Sport England for giving us these funds so we can help kids," said the Olympic, World and European 5,000 and 10,000m champion Mo Farah at the launch.
"To be able to support young people is amazing and I want to spot the next Mo. I want to give them a chance and say look this is where I started, I was just like you at that age."
A generous cheque for £250,000 was handed over by Jon Horne, Government Relationship Manager for Sport England’s Community Sports Activation Fund.
"This is a £47.5 million project across the country and this is one of 160 projects so far that have been funded," said Jon when presenting with the cheque.
"It is not just about people doing more sport but about the impact regular sport participation can have on wider local outcomes, whether this is educational achievement, health, diversity activities – whatever this may be in the local area."
Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, The Mo Farah Foundation and Sport Impact are working together to deliver the programme, which centres around three Motivator coaches who will be working in the most deprived areas of Hounslow to get more young people active.
"The age group we are targeting (14-25 year old) is set up for a reason, and it is a challenge. But we believe we have the credentials to do it, we all have different personalities and are enthusiastic about sport," said Senior Motivator Abdoullah Kheir.
During the launch, young people from the community took part in a variety of different sports activities including basketball, football, tennis, American flag football, boxing, trampolining and sprinting.
Motivator Martin Bradshaw said the diversity of sports on offer reflected the nature of the programme, which would use as many different sports as possible to engage the target age group.
“We will start with schools and colleges, then look to go to youth clubs and talk to young people about what they want and what will make them motivated to come to our project," said fellow Motivator Kojo Sedefia.
Chair of the Mo Farah Foundation, Tania Farah, also attended the event, as did Mo’s daughter Rhianna – who enjoyed taking part in the activities on offer, especially the tennis.
"We are excited to work with Sport Impact and Brentford FC CST, who have experience at ground level working with young people," said Tania.
"By using Mo’s influence hopefully we can develop this into something across the UK. We started in Hounslow because this is where we are from and this is where our heart still lies."
Aspiring Olympian, and Great Britain 100m sprinter Clieo Stephenson, has already benefitted from the work of The Mo Farah Foundation. The sprinter is studying psychology at Brunel University while perfecting her ground speeds.
"When I joined Brunel I applied for a scholarship and the Mo Farah Foundation selected me as one of the four people they support throughout the year," said Clieo, who can run 100m in 11.7 seconds.
"They give me financial help through the course of year, help with injuries and look after me in any way they can. Physio, travel and equipment, that sort of thing."
While Clieo was tearing it up on the mini sprint track, vigorous bouncing on the trampoline took place inside the sports hall, and Brentford FC Club Captain Kevin O’Connor turned up to see the skills on the football pitch.
The Major of Hounslow, Corinna Smart, said the launch was the biggest sporting event of the summer because of Mo Farah’s motivational story and how young people respond to it.
"I am from Feltham Community College and am doing tennis, trampolining and dodge-ball. Mo used to go to this school and I have heard a lot about him. He won lots of medals at the Olympics," said 15-year old Vishal, one of the participants on the day.
If their hard work was spotted by the Motivators, the most impressive performers were awarded prizes by Mo Farah on stage. With a handy right hook in the boxing ring, 19-year old Dominika was awarded a goody bag with a signed T-shirt from Mo.
"In addition to Sport England, I want to thank our supporters, ISIS Waterside Regeneration, Carillion Parks Management, The Heathrow Community Fund, Brentford Football Club and the London Borough of Hounslow," said Project Manager Neil Young,
"It was through the Hounslow Community, Sport and Physical Activity network – managed by the Borough Council – that this partnership was formed, so I would like to say thank you for bringing us together."
BIDWELL VISITS SHORT BREAKS SUMMER SPORTS PARTY
Just days after Paralympic athletes entertained the world at the Commonwealth Games, a Summer Sports Party in Hounslow was helping to inspire the next generation of Paralympic stars.
Over 60 participants attended the Sports Party at Lampton School Sports Centre where there was an opportunity to try some familiar sports and perhaps a few new ones.
The center was a hive of activity with sports including indoor curling, table tennis, rhythmic gymnastics and badminton on offer. There were also adapted sports such as Boccia, table cricket and polybat for children with more serious impairments and outside Feltham Bees coaches put aspiring footballers through their paces.
"We were really pleasantly surprised to see so many activities organised for the afternoon. The children really enjoyed taking part in the sports and the coaches on-hand were fantastic, very supportive and full of encouragement," said Hiten Bhadusia, dad of Prisha.
The Brentford FC CST worked closely with local organisations Feltham Bees, Middlesex Cricket Club, Richmond Gymnastics and Middlesex County Badminton Association to ensure the event was a success, and that there was always something for old and young to do.
"It was good to see so many organisation working together to create an exciting and challenging day for the Short Breaks children," said Event Co-ordinator, Chris Tribe.
Joanna Dawson, Short Breaks Co-ordinator, said she had a great time at the event and was also impressed with the assortment of activities on display.
"The Short Breaks programme has become a fixture in the lives of disabled children and their families during the holidays and Brentford FC CST are a big part of that. As well as great learning opportunities and enjoyment for the young people, the programme has helped to develop a community network for parent/carers in the borough," said Joanna.
"It was a fantastic day and as always it is great to see the children having so much fun. We may even have seen some Paralympic sport stars of the future!" said Peter Shears, Senior Project Manager at Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.
Unlike the Commonwealth Games, all participants left the event with a gleaming Short Breaks medal and a smile on their face.
THE FEARLESS ROB OLLMAN
Rob’s fortunes were about to turn after spotting a leaflet at the Job Centre about an employability programme run by the Fulham FC Foundation.
‘My Future Goal’, supported by Barclays Spaces for Sports, opened the door for Rob to do what he had dreamed of doing, work in football. Held at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, the 10-week programme delivers crucial employability skills to participants and also provides the opportunity to take their FA Level One coaching qualification.
Enrolling on ‘My Future Goal’ was just the beginning for Rob. He had to work very hard to ensure he made a good impression.
“I participated with everything and gave 100%. I always arrived early and was one of the last to leave,” says Rob.
“The 10 weeks went really quickly and I knew this was a great opportunity to get a job so I tried really hard. Whatever the coaches said, went.”
Fortunately the end of ‘My Future Goal’ did not spell the end of Rob’s coaching ambitions. During the programme, participants were told that the Danny Fullbrook Fearless Foundation would provide funding for two Fearless Mentors to coach at the Foundation for three months.
“We were told that the Fearless Foundation had raised enough money to create two Fearless Coaching positions, to further support my development as a coach. As soon as I heard about the opportunity, I knew this was something I really wanted to do. I thought, I am going to get this.”
That is exactly what Rob did. And the journey did not end after the mentorship placement either. After completing the three months, Rob found himself inundated with work and fully immersed with Fulham FC Foundation.
“During the Fearless Coaching placement I was able to watch the best coaches take PE and social inclusion sessions. Because people got to know me, and I had really good feedback, I was put onto the rota as a sessional coach.”
“The Fearless Coach programme really helped me out as I wouldn’t have been able to get this many hours with Fulham if I hadn’t done it. It was a way in.”
In addition to providing Fearless Mentorships, Danny’s charity has also contributed to funding a number of FA Level One courses.
Deborah Searchwell, Employability Officer at the Fulham Foundation, sees first-hand the positive effects employability programmes have on young people struggling to get on the career ladder. She says one of the most important things about ‘My Future Goal’ is teaching young people to be realistic.
“Many of the participants have never worked before and are either in part-time or low level employment. ‘My Future Goal’ and the Fearless Coach programme give young people an idea of the employment opportunities out there,” says Deborah.
“We inject a healthy dose of realism so they can make informed decisions about their career and lifestyle. It is important to know they will not be on six figure salaries as coaches and that something on their CRB could stop them from coaching young people in the future.”
Through Fearless Foundation’s ongoing projects with the Fulham Foundation and Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, it is clear how powerful football is as a motivation tool for young people.
Whether it is in Brentford’s Griffin Park or Fulham’s Craven Cottage, NEET youngsters are often stimulated to study in an environment which is deeply connected to their passion for sport.
“It doesn’t matter if they get to meet the players, it’s the environment and the heavyweight brands these clubs have which create an exciting atmosphere,” says Deborah.
“They see people from brands like Adidas arrive at the same entrance they use to do a photo-shoot with players. This has an impact on these guys. This is an opportunity for young people that is unique and exclusive.”
Rob’s story at the Fulham FC Foundation is an uplifting one. And he shows no signs of slowing down.
“Everyone says it is so hard to get a full-time job in coaching but I’m living off it and doing it six days a week. I used to do seven!” says Rob.
“My main mission now is to get a full-time contract with the Foundation.”
Rob had wise words for the new group of ‘My Future Goal’ participants when he dropped in for a talk.
“Everyone has an opinion but you learn to adapt to it. The main thing about coaching is to adjust to your surroundings. Make things simple and have a can do attitude.”
“It is not about what other people think of you, you need to work hard for yourself.”
BUILDING FEARLESS PATHWAYS
FEMALE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
STREET SPORTS & BRENTFORD TRUST
At the start of this year, the Trust project received a huge boost with the announcement that Hounslow Homes would pledge over £90,000 of funding over the next two years.
“The project has been extremely successful and our increased funding demonstrates Hounslow Homes commitment to providing positive engagement activities, training and employment pathways for young people living within our housing communities,” said Godfrey Hamilton, Housing Services Manager for Hounslow Homes.
The free sessions – which offer a relaxed environment and chance to socialise outside school - are available to young people aged between 8-18.
“Street Sports give young people something fun and positive to do in the evenings. Projects like these often reduce anti-social behaviour and build a stronger sense of community,” says Graham Goodden, Trust Social Inclusion Project Coordinator.
Heston Farm is one of the estates the Trust visits weekly, providing a Monday evening multi-sports session and a Wednesday evening youth club.
While young people can improve their football skills and keep active at the sports sessions, the youth club allows them to interact more closely with each other and Brentford Trust staff.
The heart of the youth club is the tuck-shop – which not only appeases appetites but gives members the chance to deal with customers and manage money. It is a small gateway into adult life and financial responsibilities.
Of course, the lighter side of the youth club is to simply have fun.
“We play table tennis, get a drink, and sometimes we go on the laptops and computer games. It’s a good place to meet up with friends and it’s really fun,” says nine-year old Azza.
Although members are often seen happily playing games, the Trust staff are on hand in case they believe anyone is not happy.
“We only have two hours a week with these young people so our impact has to be more targeted. It’s different from school because they can bring in things they want to do.” While younger children play with an assortment of games under staff supervision, older members head for the room with the pool table.