Meet the mentor: Joe Cooper

Everyone has to start somewhere, right?! The smallest opportunities can lead you to the previously unimaginable. Here with us is our trusted trustee (get it?) Joe Cooper to share his journey with Citywise so far.

Good morning Joe! Talk me through your quest of how you got here…

Hello! My mentoring journey started at sixteen when a school friend asked if I’d like to come and help out at a youth project in Moss Side. We ran a homework club, the aim of which was to keep teenage boys off the streets on a Saturday, although of course the boys had to be enticed by 5-a-side football!

I wouldn’t expect anything different! What was it about mentoring that captured your imagination?

What struck me about my first experience of mentoring in Moss Side was how different my upbringing was from the boys on the project – but I only lived 5 miles away. Mentoring is about serving those less fortunate or less experienced than you and I realised that even as a teenager I could help improve the lives of others in some small way. Trying to help young people less privileged than myself is a big driving factor for me.

Now I might be setting myself up for trouble with this question but give me your honest opinion on mentoring…

Ha! You want my honest opinion?! Well okay then… mentoring hasn’t all been a smooth ride, at times I’ve found it incredibly tough and at points have found it hard to stick it out. However, as young leaders we have a responsibility to commit to those we are helping and not to give in, especially when times are difficult. See, that wasn’t so bad!

How has mentoring young people in turn helped you?

Mentoring has taught me the virtue of commitment, and looking back those I have been mentored by over the years have helped me learn to become a leader and make it through the tough times.

That’s the circle of life! So, what have you been up to since being a mentor?

I am so glad you asked! This brings me to my current job. As a charity Citywise has to comply with various rules and regulations. I won’t bore you with the details, but that’s where trustees come in – making sure that Citywise plays by the rules. Watch out Luke! As a trustee, I hope to use the knowledge of mentoring I have gained over the years to help Citywise in my professional capacity, and also to support our mentors and project leaders wherever possible.

Any final words for our fellow readers/potential mentors?

Yes: commit to being a mentor and it will change your perspective! It leads you to new places and introduce you to some wonderful new people – I guarantee it!