A children’s charity is appealing for more black men to become role models to vulnerable young people.
Kids Company, which helps 17,000 disadvantaged youngsters across the capital, is looking for men from black and ethnic minority backgrounds to give up to an hour a week for a year for trips to the cinema, visits to art galleries and libraries, swimming, football or just walks in the park.
The charity give young people one-to-one support through youth workers, known as key workers, but mentors are there to help them broaden their horizons with new experiences.
Key worker, Luke Forde, 34, of Streatham, said: “It’s about being able to relate, initially.
“I never had black teachers, or black people who were in any way significant role models apart from my parents and relatives. There are some experiences, when someone is the same race as you, that you don’t need to explain, that they will understand automatically. There is a lot in that.”
He said the memories of being given attention and care for a short time by a trusted adult are invaluable in the lives of vulnerable kids.
He said: “I remember working with one young person whose uncle used to take him to the cinema every couple of months. He’s a big man now, but he remembers that specifically because it was the only time anyone took him out.
“It’s about being able to reach back into childhood and say, it wasn’t all bad. I remember when my Kids Company mentor used to take me out. Apart from anything, mentoring is great fun. There is nothing better than seeing a kid laugh and smile and have a fun time.”
The charity has a centre in Brixton as well as other parts of south London and works in 40 London schools.
Mentors are given intensive training and support and all the children they mentor will also have key workers who look after their practical and emotional needs.
For more visit kidsco.org.uk