Thursday 21st March marked ReachOut's Impact Report Launch for 2017/18, which took place at The Tower of London. The White Tower was filled with over 200 supporters including staff, trustees, volunteers and funders.

If you weren't able to join us for the event, or would just like a recap, please continue reading to find out more about some of the awesome speeches from the night.

 

As guests began arriving at The Tower of London, they were taken on group tours by the Yeoman Wardens around the grounds and to the Crown Jewels. Tour groups then finished up at the White Tower, where the reception was taking place. Guests were given copies of the Impact Report 2017/18 - please click to read.

We were also joined by ReachOut mentees from Jubilee Primary School and Wapping High School. They did a fantastic job chatting to guests and answering all of their questions about ReachOut! We had such great feedback from attendees saying one of the best parts of the evening was hearing the personal experiences from mentees themselves.

 

After all the guests had arrived in the White Tower, we could begin the speeches. Peter Blackwell, ReachOut Chief Executive, kicked things off by welcoming everyone and explaining the ReachOut mission. He put a big emphasis on how ReachOut is now more than ever focused on character education, highlighting the statistic that teachers believe that 83% of young people's character had improved in school lessons since being a part of ReachOut. Peter then introduced Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, who very kindly took the time out of her busy schedule to attend and speak to us.

Meg really stressed the fact that many of the young people in her constituency grow up in tough environments, through no fault of their own. Meg said "What is really great about ReachOut is it’s helping those young people to develop resilience, yes in school and in education but also in their lives in general.” Meg also talked about the good value of the programme saying, "Yes, ReachOut costs money, but for every pound that goes in, the value for that young person is enormous. It changes their lives, their communities and their opportunities, and that cascades down the generations". This was particularly poignant, given that many of the attendees at the reception were former mentees who are still involved with ReachOut, either as an ambassador or a mentor. ReachOut really aims to inspire mentees with the previous generation who were in a similar situation to them. 

 

We next had two of our fantastic mentees, Ayeman and Jedan (both aged 15) from Wapping High School speak. What must have been a nerve-wracking evening for both boys, they spoke confidently and captivated all of the guests with their speeches! 

Ayeman said: "At the beginning of my journey with ReachOut, every time I failed to read a word correctly in sessions and at school, I would think about how bad I was at reading; this made me avoid any type of reading, especially out loud and in front of people. But with my mentor’s encouragement I slowly grew in confidence and staying power. I learnt that making mistakes is an important part of learning and as a result I realised that making a mistake wasn’t the end of the world. I started to read aloud, to keep trying even when I struggled."

Ayeman definitely proved this at the Impact Report Launch, reading out his speech clearly and confidently in front of over 200 people, and gaining a huge applause at the end!

Jedan then read out his speech, highlighting the relationship he has formed with his mentor. "I have been lucky enough to have a supportive mentor who has offered me advice and treated me like an equal, which I really value as it rarely happens that a young person is spoken to and regarded like an adult." It was fantastic that Jedan spoke about this, as all of our mentors aim to treat their mentees as individuals, without any judgement. Jedan also mentioned that ReachOut introduced him to boxing, something he would never have tried otherwise! He is now an amateur boxer, which has taught him "even more self-control and discipline". Thanks Jedan for your brilliant speech!

 

Following a short break, we next heard from Nadir Abdullahi - a former mentee and now a ReachOut Ambassador. Nadir explained “ReachOut has been like a second parent for me. As cheesy as it sounds, they have been able to help me in the areas I felt stuck in and had nowhere to turn to.” Nadir looked back on his ReachOut experience and what it taught him about character; stressing that he learnt that hard work and determination would help him get far. He is now in his third year of working at KPMG on the 360 programme in which he is an Audit Assistant. This year he also started studying for the ACA qualification, something requiring a lot of staying power! He attributes his success in securing this job to experiences with ReachOut. You can read more about Nadir's story in the Impact Report.

To finish off the evening, we were delighted to have David Fass, ReachOut Trustee and CEO of Europe, Middle East and Africa at Macquarie Group close proceedings. David talked about the importance of organisations encouraging their staff to volunteer as mentors, highlighting the fact that it improves their skills and confidence, which they can then bring into the workplace. With over 640 volunteers, it's really important for ReachOut to recognise the impact that not only the mentors have on mentees, but what they learn in the process too.

 

As well as hearing some awesome speeches, the evening allowed attendees to network and discover how they each became involved with ReachOut. With over 200 attendees, all from different backgrounds, there were some very inspiring and interesting stories! 

Thank you to all who attended, I'm sure you'll agree it was a fabulous event in the most incredible venue! If you weren't able to come along, please do read our Impact Report for more inspiring case studies. Thank you also to De Beers Group and Rede Partners on co-sponsoring the evening, and helping to make it such a success. More photos below!