Writing on the website of Mosaic, Business in the Community's programme mentoring young people from deprived backgrounds, Jonathan Freeman, National Director of the programme, takes the publication of the Social Integration Commission's first report as an opportunity to reflect on the ways mentoring opens up links between communities. Here's an excerpt from his blog.
“ We bring individuals together, whose worlds were very unlikely to have overlapped, because they share a passion in helping young people to succeed. ”
Empty exhortations to integrate are, at best, a waste of time and, at worst, deeply patronising and damaging. Paeans to the benefits of meeting others from different backgrounds are normally only heard by those who already embrace diversity and difference. Events to learn about other cultures and faiths are too often attended by those who already mix with others. All terribly worthy, of course, but of limited impact. Don’t get me wrong: I am a huge believer in the benefits of diversity and mixing. But social action around a shared common cause is, I think, a hugely powerful vehicle by which to effect better integration."
"The success of Mosaic’s work to improve the life chances of young people from our most deprived communities, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds, has in many ways been rooted in our ability to recruit volunteers from the broadest possible spectrum of backgrounds. We bring individuals together, whose worlds were very unlikely to have overlapped, because they share a passion in helping young people to succeed."
Mosaic was founded by the Prince of Wales in 2007 as a mentoring programme creating opportunities for young people growing up in our most deprived communities. It was run by Business in the Community until July 2016, when it became part of the Prince's Trust.