Newham, one of the poorest and boroughs in London, is associated with high levels of gun and knife crime amongst young black men in particular; and this is where Kevin Osei grew up in.
Coming from humble beginnings and passionate about social mobility, Kevin aspires to help young people who grew up in similar backgrounds achieve success through his free mentoring initiative – Bridging Barriers, which he started in October 2020.
Bridging Barriers focuses on improving the personal and professional development of young people from ethnic minorities and disadvantaged backgrounds aged 16-25.
“My main inspiration behind setting up Bridging Barriers is the borough I grew up in – Newham,” Kevin told Kuulpeeps.
“About four years ago, I observed that a lot of these young boys getting themselves in gangs were very talented in academia, sports and music. However, due to a lack of mentoring, guidance and the right people around them, many ended up going down the wrong path.”
“So I had a vision of changing this. When you’re in your early teens, those are vulnerable years and it’s easy to get caught up in the wrong lifestyle… so I want to make a change and help not just black men, but all individuals from ethnic minorities and disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their dreams and be successful,” he explained.
In his final year at the University of Leicester studying Politics and International Relations, Kevin is able to achieve his goals with Bridging Barriers by partnering with firms and educational institutions to help raise awareness of the services he offers to individuals who may benefit from them.
His dedication and hard work towards helping other young people was recognised when he was honoured with the upReach Ten award for championing social mobility.
“With over 300 people nominated, I was able to win the award by the grace of God. It’s great to see that nearly a year later, I’ve been able to help over 150 individuals and counting, partner with some amazing firms and educational institutions, and now, win my first award!”
“I also wanna highlight that this has all been done without funding or sponsors, simply utilising my social media platforms, word of mouth and networking to attract mentees,” he added.
Kevin’s passion for social mobility also stems from his experiences of failure and rejection, which he says has made him a more resilient person; and wants to use the lessons he learned to encourage others to work towards their dreams.
“I have been at University for nearly 5 years, and during that time I’ve had 99% rejections,” he revealed. “However, I’ve learnt to be resilient and never give up. Unfortunately, individuals from ethnic minorities find it harder than their white counterparts gaining access to their desired job, and I have been a victim of this. I know that many people don’t know how to deal with rejection and failure, this is why we also offer personal development services.”
“Our mentors are able to help individuals with their self-belief, confidence, self-esteem and any other personal issues one may have. We recognise the difficulties that come with being a minority and feeling unworthy when applying for roles that you may be constantly receiving a rejection from. This is where my passion for social mobility comes from, I want to see my people win,” he added.
Kevin further revealed that he is also planning of undertaking a similar project in his home country, Ghana.
“I’ve been keeping my cards close to my chest with this one. But I’ve got big plans of starting a charity in Ghana in the next 5 years… keep an eye out for it. I’ve been to Ghana many times and whenever I go, I’m always grateful for the life I live and always think of ways to help people less privileged than myself.”
Also in interested in a career in HR Consulting/People Consulting, Kevin hopes to graduate from his undergraduate studies with first-class honours and work towards his career goal by getting a graduate job in Consulting, while he also works towards growing and scaling up Bridging Barriers.
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