Imani Clough was a participant on the UpRising Leadership programme from October 2016-July 2017. On completion of the programme Imani secured a mentor, Andy Street (Mayor of the West Midlands) in November 2017. Read Imani’s account of being a Mentee with One Million Mentors:
“I was recently offered a new job, I believe it was through Andy Street’s mentoring that I was successful in the interview process. My role is ‘Disrupting Exploitation Engagement Officer’ and is an additional commitment alongside ‘Imani Academy’. This job is a step-up in my leadership journey and an opportunity to widen my skills. My work is in line with my vision of supporting children and young people who are at risk of sexual and crime exploitation (CSE).
With mentoring I believe learning can go both ways, for the mentor and for the mentee. If you are a mentor, you are an active citizen, you are involved and aware of what’s happening in your community. You are able to support the next generation. It’s generally about someone giving advice and guidance. You may not see the impact of mentoring initially, as it can take time.
For both mentor and mentee, social action is about how you fit into the community as it’s changing. When you are taking part in social action, it’s usually something you’re passionate about and you can look at the issue you are championing from a macro perspective. You are looking at who you can talk to and connect with.
Social action allows you to learn a lot of leadership skills, patience, consider different points of view and plan how much time you will need to make it work. It’s the same with the world of work and, therefore, social action supports the world of work and the practicalities of working. The skills you need for the workplace are not just a paper of ‘A’s’ and ‘B’s’.
Speaking to my mentor makes me aware not to put too much pressure on myself. It’s good to check in with someone and believe in what I have done and take time to pat myself on the back sometimes.
My mentor has taught me that anyone can be a leader, but not everyone can be a good leader, talking through different leadership styles with Andy and speaking to him about his role and his previous role has helped me understand what kind of leader I am.
Andy has shared the connections he has with schools and colleges, for me to speak to them about my organisation, Imani Academy. In addition, Andy Street has created a short film about his first year as Mayor, I was featured in it and as a result, people have reached out to me, to talk about Imani Academy.”