|Cambridge to Africa attend XLP London's Open Day|
26 October 2011
As part of preparation for our new UK-based projects, the Cambridge to Africa team recently attended an open day hosted by the London based youth charity XLP.
It has always been part of our objects to divide our work equally between projects in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa. Throughout 2011, in conjunction with our Trustees, we have spent a significant amount of time researching a range of project opportunities, however it was the August riots that really highlighted where we felt our expertise could be fully utilised.
As a result of this we are in the initial stages of preparing two projects; these focus on mentoring and literacy programmes for black disadvantaged youth between the ages of 18 and 25 years. We aim to launch both projects in 2012, pending funding.
Mentoring through the promotion of creative and employability skills
One initiative is to provide young people with personal mentors who will offer work experience, guidance, and practical advice from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from academia and professional services to cultural spheres such as art, dance, fashion, and music.
This initiative will work in conjunction with the recently launched African fashion label ‘Touch of Africa’ in Cambridge. Run by a small group of African entrepreneurs, Touch of Africa provides the UK market with affordable African fashion garments.
The founding members will contribute to the mentoring process by teaching young people about the aesthetics and event skills needed to put on a fashion show in London. We will focus on offering mentors to young people who can demonstrate that they have a willingness to learn, but have been denied access to meaningful opportunities.
Specialist English Language Training
A second initiative is to provide young people with a three-month English language course that focuses on literacy and communication skills. The course will focus on English as a Second Language (ESL) skills and draws on the 20 years of experience that the Founder of Cambridge to Africa, Dr Sacha DeVelle, possesses in this field.
Those involved in the project will finish with a set of transferable English language skills that can be used in the workplace. We also aim to include 1:1 mentoring on specific language areas to enhance the learning process, and will use our voluntary mentoring scheme to provide mentors who will link to further specialist subject areas (e.g. accounting, marketing).
The Road Ahead...
The Cambridge to Africa team is now carrying out a needs analysis to decide which London borough would be the most suitable for our projects. We are also investigating how to tackle some of the issues that youth in these areas are facing: illiteracy, fatherless homes and second-generation culture clashes.
We agree with XLP founder Patrick Regan when he says, ‘It doesn’t have to be this way,’ and we hope the projects we run in 2012 will give some young people an opportunity to realise this for themselves.
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