Leila Thomas Urban Synergy’s founder recaps how it all began.
“The catalyst was a conversation after Sunday dinner at a family member’s home in March 2007. At the time it seemed that every other week there was a news story about the ‘youth knife crime epidemic’ sweeping the nation.
What are you doing to help?
It was at that dinner that my partner turned to me and asked: ‘What are you doing about the issues?’ His question made me think about what I could do beyond talking and forced me to decide that I wanted to be part of the solution.
My large network of friends, colleagues and associates has often had similar discussions to my family’s that day. But many said they didn’t quite know how to help guide and inspire young people in the community. I couldn’t sleep. At 2am that same night, I called my cousin, a secondary school teacher. Could she facilitate me bringing ten of my friends – all professionals and highly successful within their own right – to speak directly with the young people in her school? We wanted to try and understand the issues and come up with an action plan from our meeting with the youngsters to actually help them.
Seed of an idea
My initial idea was to run a one-off project to get positive role models to do 1-2-1 mentoring with my cousin’s pupils. I firmly believe that young people need to be inspired in order to aspire to greatness. At a time where young black people are disproportionately being killed or affected by knife and violent crime, I believe that early intervention – by providing practical help and resources including positive role models – is the difference between a child who is labeled a failure and a child destined for success.
It’s not just a parent’s responsibility to raise a child. It takes a ‘village’ also!
How it started
I researched and contacted other mentoring organisations but couldn’t find a package suitable to introduce my friends and family to. I decided to launch Urban Synergy – the Mentor Resource Pool. With help from many other passionate professionals, Urban Synergy has helped over 900 young people realise they have the potential to beat stereotypes and to overcome the challenges they face.
Where does my energy come from? It comes from knowing that Urban Synergy has developed a unique mentoring model that is delivering:
- Community unity – enabling young people to respect and to look after each other (no matter what postcode) and to respect their elders
- An ethos of self respect and self belief that they can achieve
- Demand and Supply – providing a programme that matches compassionate volunteers with young people who openly say they want to be positively guided
- Urban Synergy helps them get to where they want to get to
We can all benefit from having a mentor!
I hope you enjoy browsing our website and learning about what we’ve been up to, to help young people thrive. If you would like further information on our programmes; if you are from a school; if you’re a worried parent, or even a young person needing someone to look up to; if you’re a concerned person who would like to become a mentor; if you’re a corporate who would like to discuss partnership opportunities, we’d love to hear from you. So please, get in touch today.
Success is in Your Hands!