ReachOut welcomes local MP

This week at the ReachOut Club in Cayley Primary School we were lucky enough to be joined by the Labour MP of the Bethnal Green and Bow area, Rushanara Ali. Rushanara was the first woman of Bangladeshi origin to have been elected to the House of Commons, as well as one of the first female Muslim MPs.

During the session, we did a drama exercise, with the girls acting like they were at an award ceremony. They first worked with their mentors to write an acceptance speech detailing: what they had won the award for; what hurdles they faced along the way in striving to get the award; and, who they would like to thank for helping them along the way.

After this, the girls dressed up in scarfs, necklaces, and other jewellery myself and the mentors had brought – after all, this was a glamorous occasion! The girls then took turns in performing their speeches. The other girls displayed great fairness in listening to each other, and self-control in waiting for their turn – just some of the character values we promote at the ReachOut Club.

We elected Rushanara to be the judge of which award acceptance speech was the best. In the end, though all of the speeches were very well-read and touching (with some girls thanking their mentors for their help and support), we had two winners. These winners gleefully raised the trophy to an eruption of applause from the rest of the girls.

Rushanara then went on to talk to the group about her role as an MP, joking she would make it so school hours were longer if they weren’t nice to her! She explained her role was to care for the community and make changes to UK law when it is needed. Her speech was very inspiring, and when at the end she asked the girls who wanted to be an MP, or minister, or the Prime Minister in the future, many of them raised their hands. At the end of the session, she was even asked for her autograph by the girls! A Huge thanks to Rushanara Ali for visiting ReachOut and having a positive influence on the girls.

After the project, Rushanara Ali said “I was incredibly impressed by the way the young people were responding to the mentors. ReachOut is a brilliant charity that helps build confidence, presentation skills, writing skills and more. I was also impressed by the speeches the young people gave and look forward to welcoming some of them in the Houses of Parliament as future MPs or perhaps even Prime Minister!”

Cayley Headteacher, Lissa Samuel popped in and was surprised and pleased to see all the girls participating “I was amazed to see one of the least confident girls in the group stand up and give her presentation; she would never have done that before taking part in the ReachOut project.”

Well done Cayley ReachOut Club mentors!

By Jessica Rowbotham

Cayley ReachOut Club Project Leader

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“At first, I was really hesitant to take on the Project Leader role, despite having mentored with ReachOut. However, with the support of the team I’ve really developed my skills. For example, at the Mentee Graduation, I stood up in front of 200 people and presented an award which is something I would never ever have been able to have done before, and isn’t an opportunity I could gain in my other situations.”

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“Being able to spend the summer working at Rede Partners, was an amazing experience. Whether it was working in HR or Finance, I learned so much about the world of private equity, made great connections with fantastic people and I got to learn first-hand what it would be like to work there! I really believe that I can go onto build the career I want now I’ve been a part for a workplace for real”

Victor Adekunle, 18 years old, ReachOut Ambassador, London

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“When I first my mentee, she was very reluctant to participate in the sessions. Now, I see a completely different person! Her confidence has grown and she is happy to join in! She still has some self-doubt when it comes to academic work, but that’s what I hope to help her overcome, because she is a very bright person!

Through mentoring, I’ve learnt I’m a lot more patient than I realised. There will be days where she refuses to participate and those are the days that I really see the importance of the character strengths, for both the mentees and the mentors. It also makes it easier for the mentee to understand the character strengths, when I use them myself”

Myrtle, ReachOut Club mentor at Tufnell Primary School, London

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“There are more distractions than ever outside of school, and the commitment of our students to attend ReachOut sessions is testament to the value they place on the relationships they foster there, and the challenge and enjoyment they provide.

ReachOut’s focus on communication skills and character development has become an important aspect of our provision of support for these students. The opportunity to relate to a positive role- model other than their usual teachers is key to the programme’s impact, and the evidence of this has been seen in the students’ attendance, resilience and to their overall progress across all the subjects in the school.”

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