FWN mentoring: A life-changing experience

With applications for the next cohort of our mentoring programme open (23 May to 15 June 2015), we hear from former mentee Abena Oppong-Asare on her experience of the scheme.

Still unsure whether to apply for the FWN mentoring scheme? Let me tell you my story.

I had already been selected as a council candidate in Bexley, having been given the gentle prod of encouragement by two high-profile politicians to stand. Months before that I had also been elected to the FWN Executive Committee, which was due to another two high profile politicians individually encouraging me to stand. I came across many people via FWN who had been on the mentoring scheme and they had told me that it had been a very positive experience. This led me to apply for the scheme.

I made it clear in my application that I wanted to learn more about the role of public boards, which led me to be partnered with my well-respected mentor, Elisabeth Davies (deputy chief executive at Arthritis Care and chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel).

As well as being mentored by an inspiring woman, who has now become one of my greatest role models, the programme also helped me to develop my public speaking, debating and presentation skills.

I have always lacked in confidence, but this programme has really helped me to overcome that. I am now willing to speak up publicly on things, which I don’t think I would have done before.

Since going on to the programme I have spoken on radio, chaired and organised two major events, one of which was at Labour party conference. I have also written articles for FWN, the Fabian Society and the New Statesmen in my personal capacity. I am also the deputy leader of Bexley Labour group and a shadow cabinet member.

It hasn’t be easy, as I have had to overcome a lot of barriers, but being part of this great mentoring scheme as enabled me to achieve these successes.

I would like to thank my mentor Elisabeth Davies, Christine Megson, Caroline Adams, Kate Talbot and my colleagues on the FWN mentoring scheme. I have met some amazing women on this programme who I admire and respect. I am delighted that some of them have become good friends of mine.

Abena Oppong-Asare is a councillor in Bexley, where she is the deputy leader of the Labour group and shadow cabinet member for education. She tweets @abenaopp.

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Click here for more information on our mentoring programme and how to apply.

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