The search is on for Black role models in England
VOLUNTEER role models will be recruited across the country to inspire young black men and boys to success. High-achieving businessmen and entrepreneurs are among the figures who will send out the message that anything is possible despite barriers such as discrimination and poverty.
A national survey carried out last year found that 90% of young British men from African, Caribbean and mixed backgrounds want successful professionals from similar backgrounds to share their stories of how they made it to the top. The three-year role model programme is now being launched by the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG), a leading charity which carried out the research. Routes2Success, funded by the Big Lottery and The Monument Trust, was given the title by the 11 to 25 year olds the scheme aims to support.
Young black males in Britain face many challenges and can struggle to succeed. Racism and poverty can hold back young people from reaching their potential. Just a few of the statistics on this show that:
- 42% of black Caribbean boys and 52% of African boys achieved 5 GCSEs A*-C including Maths and English in 2010/11 compared to 55% for the total male cohort;
Only 3% of apprentices in England in 2010/11 were black;
44% of young black people who were available for work in the 12 months to September 2012 were unemployed, compared with 24% of all young people;
16% of young people detained in Young Offender Institutions in England and Wales in 2011/12 were black.
Role models cannot solve all of the problems many young males experience. But they can help young people to have confidence in their abilities and to believe that anything is possible with hard work and dedication. By connecting successful black men with young males Routes2Success aims to inspire young people to realise their full potential and equip them to deal with the barriers that they may face. Evidence from our previous role model programme showed that 83% of young people who listened to role models were inspired; they went away and thought more carefully about the need to plan their future and work hard at school and college.
What makes a good role model?
The search is now on to recruit successful black men who can become role models to engage and inspire the next generation. When asked what makes a good role model young people said:
Someone who inspires and encourages young people;
A successful individual from a similar background; and
Someone who sets a good example to others.
Routes2Success role model Bola Abisogun is a Chartered Quantity Surveyor born and raised in East London. Bola excelled at school and made history as the first black African to achieve a double First Class Honours in Quantity Surveying and Construction Management at the University of Wolverhampton. Following this achievement, Bola set up two businesses. Having experienced first-hand the ‘oppressive and often discriminatory’ nature of the construction industry, Bola understands the struggle that some young black males face, having to work twice as hard to succeed. Bola knows that not all young males have fathers in their lives but insists that ‘Boys need fathers or at the very least father figures’. For this reason he feels it is only right as a father of three sons to offer his spare time to support a cause in which he believes. ‘The next generation of black men is likely to be left behind in the ‘race for opportunity’…unless the Routes2Success project can make the much needed and wholly overdue conversion rate of ‘positive change’’.
Routes2Success role model Patrice Hinds is Managing Director at Inspirational Ideas, a marketing business which specialises in promotional ideas and merchandise. Running a successful business inspired him to share his story with young people to encourage them to want to achieve and see that anything is attainable through hard work. Patrice currently visits schools in his local community discussing business with students. Although he finds engaging with some of the young people challenging at times, he finds it rewarding and an honour. Through a ‘non-judgemental and patient’ approach Patrice wishes to share his story and business knowledge with young people to help them on their journeys to success.