Interview with Akeim Mundell – Groundwork’s inaugural Young Community Leader of the Year Award

Posted on the 12th September 2018

To mark the start of the Ministry of Health, Communities & Local Government’s Communities Week, Groundwork’s Campaigns & Communications Officer, Siana Bangura, caught up with Akeim Mundell – winner of Groundwork’s inaugural Young Community Leader of the Year Award and a local hero in his own community in Manchester – to discuss the work he does and what local leadership means to him.

 

Gwk: Hi Akeim, please tell us a bit about who you are and what you do
My name is Akeim Mundell (BEM). I am 24 years old, and I have many roles within the Manchester community. I’m a pastoral leader at a local school and a senior mentor at a local organisation supporting young people.

Gwk: What motivates you the most to do the work you do in your local community and remain so active?
My parents motivate me the most, I would say. In addition, we young people from the Moss Side and South Manchester areas are often negatively stereotyped for past issues that arise in every other area of the country. This motivates me to prove the media wrong and show them the good that we are capable of doing.

Gwk: Can you tell us more about your work as a volunteer mentor for Youth Group, Community on Solid Ground?
I run the youth clubs at Community on Solid Ground, which are attended by young people from the ages of six to 18 years old. I facilitate PSHE sessions where the young people learn about sex education, internet safety, anti-bullying and other important key issues. We also offer sport and gaming facilities – it’s an open space for the young people to chill in a safe environment.

Gwk: What led you to found the online group, Manchester Job Opportunities?
I realised there were large numbers of unemployed individuals in Manchester, keen to work but struggling to find appropriate vacancies. Due to my links with local businesses and my passion for researching, I decided to create an online jobs group called ‘Manchester Job Opportunities’. I dedicate three hours every evening to sourcing employment information to share in the group. The group now has 29,000 members and over 250 have gained full time jobs thanks to the group.

Gwk: That’s amazing! What impact has the initiative had on your local community and have you had support from local businesses and Manchester City Council?
The initiative has had a massive impact on the community – it is obviously needed. The group is growing bigger every single evening and businesses now even rely on the group to recruit multiple members of staff. Agencies have even offered to buy the initiative from me, which I’ve turned down because it’s a part of my heart!

Gwk: How has being recognised for the work you put into improving your local community helped you and your confidence (if at all)?
Being recognised for the work I do in the community has had a big impact on me because it’s shown that anything is possible. This has meant a lot as it’s nice to know the work and dedication I put in to my community is actually appreciated, which also inspires me to continue.

Gwk: How can community groups better integrate young people like you into their work and make them feel more welcome to participate, in your opinion?
Community groups can integrate young people in to their groups by simply opening up their doors and allowing young people to put forward ideas and have a voice.

Gwk: You’ve long been a leader in your local community, from launching the first ever Manchester’s Got Talent in 2014, to setting up Manchester Job Opportunities and working closely with local police and the city council. How would you define ‘leadership’ and what advice would you give to others who want to be more active in their local communities and make a difference?
I would define leadership as standing tall no matter what difficulties you face, working as an individual as well as a team, and screaming with confidence in order to have your voice heard. Advice I’d give to everyone is to not shy away from your vision and to accept as many opportunities as you can in order to add to your existing skill set and attributes, in order to reach success.

Akeim Mundell biog

Akeim Mundell is a 24-year-old pastoral leader, senior mentor and local ambassador. He currently works in a secondary school in Manchester and is a senior youth mentor for a local organisation supporting young people. Akeim is the creator of Manchester Jobs Board, Manchester Job Opportunities – a group of over 29,000 members.

He works closely with Manchester City Council and within the local community to help young people make positive contributions and overcome challenges. In recognition of his work and service to his community, Akeim was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) at the end of 2016. In 2017, Akeim won the inaugural Young Community Leader of the Year Award at Groundwork’s Community Awards.

Find out more about Akeim

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