It’s the young people on stage who really steal the show during Babbasa’s Ask About Me event.
“It’s not good enough just to be included, you have to be valued,” panellist Mo Ali tells a packed audience in The Station on Wednesday evening, to a burst of applause.
An entrepreneur, philosopher and student, Mo is one of the many who have been supported by St Paul’s-based social enterprise Babbasa to realise his goals and aspirations.
As he talks eloquently on stage, alongside fellow youth panellist Marissa Lewis-Peart, Zainab Khan, founder of UWE Bristol’s award-winning Equity programme and Richard Potter, chief technology officer for Microsoft Enterprise Services, yet more people keep piling into the packed hall and rows of seats are frantically added.
Organised by Babbasa, in collaboration with Bristol24/7 and Bristol City Council, the event aims to empower young people – particularly those from less advantaged backgrounds – and support them to realise their aspirations and fulfil their ambitions.
It connects more than 100 young people with professionals from a diverse range of sectors, opening up opportunities for work placements, mentoring and potential employment.
During the panel discussion, topics on inclusion, advice and the best route into a career are all covered.
“We need to take time to listen to voices from underrepresented background,” says Zainab, who is also faculty academic director of student experience at UWE Bristol’s faculty of business and law.
“We need to look at the whole talent pipeline: how do we get talent in and ensure we don’t have a leaky pipe? We have to understand the challenges we need to respond to and stop seeking quick fixes.”
Marissa Lewis-Peart was awarded the Ben Martin Apprenticeship, run in collaboration with Bristol Media, Babbasa and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. As part of the opportunity, Marissa attended South by South West in Texas, the world’s largest tech, media, music and film conference festival.
Speaking about what the experience has taught her, she says: “If you have the opportunity to voice your opinion, take it.”
Richard speaks candidly about the limitations a lack of diversity imposes on artificial intelligence and the need for better representation. Asked for his top advice, he says: “Try not to be the best but try to be better.”
Rounds of networking follow as people link up with their potential future employers. Among the crowds are metro mayor Tim Bowles, lord mayor Cleo Lake, representatives from the city’s universities, council, civil engineers, media, accountants and many more.
“We are going to be trailblazers,” says one of the hardworking youth ambassadors, who put together the event, as they gather on stage to round off the event. They are thanked by Babbasa founder and CEO Poku Osei.
Bristol24/7 partnered with Babbasa on Ask About Me as part of the Better Bristol initiative, a collaborative approach to creating positive impact in the city.
Through projects like this one, we can help create opportunities and improve people’s lives. Find out more about Better Bristol at www.bristol247.com/betterbristol and support projects like this one by becoming a supporter member of Bristol24/7.