I wanted to be a role model to a Little Londoner

At The Kids Network we believe every child deserves the right to a happy childhood and a positive future. Our mentors help make that happen.

Our amazing volunteers were celebrated in the Daily Mail for their amazing achievements and journeys with their mentee. We wanted to continue this celebration by highlighting each of those stories and the words from those volunteer mentors.

Meet Tyrone, a teacher living in South East London.

My aim was to be the best role model I possibly could to my Little Londoner. I know from experience that it’s not easy growing up as a black boy in South-East London, particularly without a dad, like the 11-year-old boy I mentored.

Kids can get sucked into crime. I wanted to show him you can’t get everything overnight. You have to work hard, persevere and be adaptable. I dreamt of being a footballer but had an injury when I was 19 and had to quit.

I moved into physio, then trained to be a teacher and now life’s great. I wanted to inspire him. When I signed up, my wife and I had just had our twins, but luckily she is supportive and it was incredibly enriching for us both.

My mentee is very bright but has mild autism which meant he sometimes found school a struggle. But by the end I felt he could tell me about anything, from school detentions to problems with girls.

I was pretty shocked to discover there was so much he hadn’t experienced which most kids take for granted. I took him bowling and trampolining and to museums and galleries for the first time.

He’s a huge Arsenal fan and the highlight of our time together was a trip to the Emirates Stadium. I kept it secret and the look on his face when we arrived was a picture. I still remember my first football match, so being with him for his was a thrill for me.

I hope the impact I have made on his life is long-term — but I know he’s made a huge difference to mine. Sadly I will never know as mentors don’t keep in touch with the kids when the year is over. But seeing his face at the window waiting for me, I’ve learnt just how important it is to be consistent with children and not let them down. Thanks to him I know I’m a much better teacher and dad.

If you are interested in supporting The Kids Network, please head to our donations page or find out how to become a mentor and give your time to be a hero for a little Londoner.


This article was written by Tessa Cunningham and was originally published in the Daily Mail in April 2024.

The photograph is by Lezli+Rose; hair and make up by Amanda Clarke and Amber Sibley at Joy Goodman; styling by Camilla Ridley-Day and Kathryn Winter.

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