On Friday 20 June, children and their volunteer mentors gathered at our annual awards ceremony, held at DLA Piper LLP. The Mayor of Camden, Councillor Lazzaro Pietragnoli, and Deputy Mayor of Islington, Councillor Richard Greening, also attended the event to present certificates to each match, marking the length of their friendship.
Mentors and mentees spent the night having fun and reflecting on what their friendship means to them. Some shared how being a part of Friendship Works has benefited them, saying it has built their confidence, allowed for new experiences, and of course, meant more fun.
During the certificate presentations, both mentors and mentees were invited to share some insight into what makes their friendship special. Many cited going to the theatre, bowling and swimming as favourite outings, but it quickly became clear that sampling London’s diverse culinary delights was the one of the most popular ways to spend time together, with Japanese restaurants, Spanish markets and tea at the Royal Court all getting a mention.
What shone through all the comments was that each pair has plenty of common interests and really enjoy and value spending time together.
One mentee shared with the audience that what he likes most about his mentor is that “he’s really thoughtful and looks out for me.”
A mentor told the audience that her friend “is always friendly with everyone we meet, makes me laugh all the time and has great stories to tell.”
The audience was visibly moved when a mentee who was matched in 2005 described how she feels about her mentor of nine years. She said, “She’s more than a mentor to me now; she’s even more than just a friend. She is like family to me; she’s become my second mum.”
The children were thrilled to receive their certificates. One boy told us he had also received a good behaviour award at school that day and now felt as if he had “scored a hat trick.” He said that his father was planning to frame his friendship certificate and put it on the wall.
After the event, Councillor Richard Greening, tweeted that he was “delighted” to be playing a role in “opening new opportunities while having fun.”
We would like to say a big thank you to all those involved with this event: DLA Piper LLP for hosting, the Mayor of Camden and Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayoress of Islington for attending and presenting awards, and of course our amazing mentors and their mentees for coming along to celebrate friendship and share their stories with us and one other.
Visit the volunteer section to find out how you could make a difference in the life of a vulnerable child by becoming a mentor.
*All photos by Lanre Makele