What made these sessions so good was the fact that the mentors were so ‘down to earth’. Whenever I spoke to them I didn’t feel like I was talking to an incredible giant who was so much greater than me and was showing off. They were people who I felt that I could relate to especially being a black youth myself, growing up in a world where I am the minority.Olachi Akin, Year 11 student from Hatch End High School
Routes2Success role models DD Armstrong, Tony Henry and Michael Ohajuru started working with the students at Hatch End High School in November 2014. The idea of the sessions was to help and support the young men lead on their own project, so the first session focused on encouraging them to ‘Think like an Entrepreneur’ and being able to identify qualities and traits that entrepreneurs had such as good communication skills, innovative ideas, taking risks, leading a team. These were all of the qualities that they would need to execute a project of their own.
The students were presented with some project ideas by the role models but were also encouraged to come up with their own. They identified two project ideas that they were keen on completing and then split into two teams in order to pitch the two different ideas, the best pitch would win and the project would then commence.
The winning pitch was led by Olachi Akin and was to create a marketing campaign for “My Community Bank”. R2S role model Tony Henry is a member of My Community Bank (MCB) so he was able to provide enough information about the concept, objectives and aims of the bank along with the support of R2S role model Michael Ohajuru who specialises in sales and marketing.
We wanted the young people to understand the importance of finances and saving, so we played ‘payday’ with them. The object of the game was to assess which students understood the most about budgeting and saving, the student with the most cash at the end of the game was the winner. The students were taught a valuable lesson at the end of the game and really enjoyed being taught about finances in a fun and interactive way.
During the sessions the students were fortunate enough to meet My Community bank marketing manager Fiach McGuire who explained how MCB works and the gaps that they had in their marketing campaigns to entice young people in the community. The participants looked at the squirrel saving plan and good and bad debt.
Finally after the students had a good understanding of the ethics and function of the bank they began looking in to marketing strategies, including print and visual adverts, target audience, slogans, logos and unique selling point (USP). They were then split into two teams: the Development Team and the Marketing Team and they worked on different aspects of the campaign with the guidance of their team leaders.
Due to unforeseen circumstances the group sessions were put on hold during the period of May 2015 – January 2016. We commenced the sessions again in January 2016 in order to recap on the work that the students had done and support them in creating their presentation for their marketing campaign.
The students were invited to the MCB Head Office in Moorgate to present their marketing ideas to the Director of the bank.
Despite the long gap in the R2S sessions with the boys, they did an outstanding job, they oozed with confidence and flair and were truly a credit to their school. Some of the students who were extremely shy and quiet at the start of the project really came out of their shell and gave that credit to the work with the role models. We hope that they take these skills and continue to flourish in whatever field they choose to pursue.
They gave me something to aspire to and even though I am usually reserved and a quiet child, I felt that whenever I came to the sessions I was much more comfortable and confident being around people who are just like me and have experienced the challenges of growing up as a black boy. I have really appreciated every single session that I have had with all of the role models and I hope to take on their advice as I pursue my career in medicine’.