IT WAS MENTOR BE: Terence Wallen (left) with Darryl James
WHAT GOES around comes around, so the old saying goes and it certainly applies to two colleagues whose lives have turned full circle with each other.
Terence Wallen, who once mentored Darryl James and steered him on the right path in life, has now been taken on as an employee in Darryl’s first business that he’s just launched.
It’s an unusual and inspiring story which reveals the real power of mentoring and how sadly, today it’s something that happens all too rarely within all communities.
But after seeing how it can create so much benefit, Wallen and James are campaigning for a national mentoring week to raise the profile of how simply helping one another can really change lives.
“Mentoring usually appears as a knee jerk reaction to something when things go very wrong in a community,” explains Wallen, who is a trained clinical practitioner, having devoted much of his working life to supporting those who are HIV positive.
“We’ve seen it happen in Birmingham when there have been high profile shootings – people start talking about the need to mentor young people who are being lured into a gang lifestyle, but when things calm down mentoring seems to be forgotten about.
“It’s put on the back burner again, but this shouldn’t be the case – far more importance should be attached to mentoring. If people simply gave up one lunchtime a week to giving something back to help others, there would be huge benefits. Sadly there is a lack of people wanting to give – many who are successful simply pull up the ladder behind them and move on.”
Darryl, aged 28, who also runs Soundmasters, a music production company, agrees, saying: “There is a great lack of direction and focus out there – people are not prepared to share knowledge. It’s a great shame because it’s all about building a legacy.”
The two met about 12 years ago when Darryl was going through the minefield of growing up in Ladywood, part of inner-city Birmingham with a high level of deprivation.
“I started out as a volunteer working for Bro-Sis, a service launched by Terry to support those living with HIV. Then he took me on as an employee researcher. I helped out at mentoring workshops across West Midlands schools and generally had a good time.
“I then decided to go back to college where I eventually got a degree in music technology and had my own band Ill Finesse, which Terry managed.”
James’s long held interest in animation and video editing led him to launch his own company Vivid Solutions, where he now employees Wallen as his marketing manager.
He has three members of staff and have already had success with high profile customers such as the BBC, Zara and Music Connex.
Wallen added: “It’s strange being Darryl’s employee but I’m learning to do what I’m told! Seriously – it’s working very well – Darryl’s always been ready to support other people and now he’s doing really well.”