Home > News > Classroom Exclusion to Clothing Entrepreneur: Ishmael’s Story

Classroom Exclusion to Clothing Entrepreneur: Ishmael's Story

When Ishmael first joined our mentoring programme, he was having a tough time at school and home. But thanks to his mentor, Cordell, things started to look up. Fast forward six months, Ishmael has become a mentor to younger pupils in his school and even started his own clothing brand. By getting a ticket to Palace Aid, you'll be helping to support more people like Ishmael. This is his story, and this is your impact.

Ahead of Palace Aid 2024, we want to show you where your generous donations can go, and who they can help. Everything you raise for us will help to us to keep more young south Londoners away from knife crime, violence and anti-social behaviour. This is Ishmael’s story, and this is your impact.

Ishmael is from Bromley. He’s a young man who has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Special Education Needs (SEN) and Social, Emotional And Mental Health difficulties (SEMH). He lived in a few countries before settling in south London, where he was referred to our mentoring department after experiencing emotional trauma following exposure to domestic violence.

Ishmael’s story with us began in March this year when he was paired with Cordell, who works in our mentoring team, he’s an experienced Palace for Life Youth Worker and Mentor who’s well-versed in helping people just like Ishmael. When Cordell first met Ishmael, he could tell that he wasn’t in a good place. He had lost interest in his appearance at school, and both his attendance and classroom behaviour were suffering – he felt as if he was just drifting through life.

In school, Ishmael was repeatedly causing low-level problems at school that when put together, resulted in internal exclusions from school. His attendance and punctuality were poor, he was getting into trouble for not wearing his uniform properly, and was making a habit of skipping his lessons. When he did attend, he found it hard to engage with the topics that were being taught.

This negative behaviour started trickling into his home life too. Small incidents, like not doing the dishes and spending excessive time on his PlayStation started escalating, straining his relationship with his mum.

Cordell’s empathetic approach encouraged Ishmael to respond to mentoring positively, and he started opening up. He helped Ishmael understand the consequences of his behaviour and the potential legal implications of associating with the wrong crowd. As the session went on, Cordell started to uncover some of the underlying reasons behind Ishmael’s actions.

Ishmael and Cordell at his school

One revelation was that Ishmael’s difficulties with his uniform at school were simply because he wasn’t confident in doing up his tie. Cordell also discovered the lessons that Ishmael was disrupting the most, were the lessons he was understanding the least.

Fast forward six months, and Ishmael has made great progress. As a result of his one-to-one mentoring at Palace, he has transformed into a mentor himself, offering guidance to younger pupils in his school. His school’s Head of Behaviour trusted him to gain a qualification in peer mentoring and safeguarding. His attendance is now nearly perfect, and he hasn’t faced any exclusions since starting with Cordell.

With school and home life back on track, Ishmael’s confidence has soared. He even launched his own clothing brand, where he’s channelled his creative abilities and provided a positive focus for his spare time.

Cordell reflected on Ishmael’s transformation. He said: “Despite the many adversities he faced growing up, Ishmael has made remarkable progress throughout his mentoring journey. Witnessing him evolve into a mentor and mature into the exceptional young man he is today is truly inspiring. He has transitioned from merely coasting through life to taking accountability for himself and understanding the world around him.”

Help us reach more people like Ishmael, and buy a ticket for Palace Aid 2024.

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