Tales from the frontline: Harris Bokhari OBE

Harris Bokhari OBE knows the value of mentoring, having seen how his father inspired people from minority communities. As a national advisory board member of Mosaic, he is continuing a family tradition

Caption: Photography: Julian Anderson 

Original article published on 8 January 2018 in the Economia

There are too many young people in the UK that don’t have the same opportunity as many in their peer group. This could be because of their socio-economic background, the colour of their skin, or their sexuality. 

Mosaic was founded by his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in 2007. It’s one of his key mentoring programmes now housed under the Prince’s Trust. With the help of our voluntary mentors, we aim to be the bridge between aspiration and attainment. We link young people with inspirational role models and try to boost their confidence and their long-term employability. 

Right now, there is nothing more important. I’m involved because of my late father. He was the first Asian Muslim head teacher in the UK and he had a great role in helping support a lot of minority communities that came to the UK. When my father was a head teacher in the early 1980s, there were still posters that would say “no dogs, no blacks, no Irish”. This was at a point when a lot of ethnic minority children’s fathers worked in low-level jobs. So when he got into a powerful position it really inspired them and enabled them to understand they could achieve anything. 

One of the many young people my father inspired is the now mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. He was very gracious, and in his winning speech he talked of how my father was a mentor and an inspiration because he showed him that despite the colour of his skin he could achieve anything. My father was involved in Mosaic and after he passed away it was one of the many charities he supported that I wanted to continue helping.  

One of the most difficult challenges is trying to improve our work and to reach out to more individuals. There is a growing need: unfortunately deprived communities are increasing and young people are facing more difficulties. There is always a case for us wanting to do more. 

In the charitable sector, the generous support we get from donors and volunteer mentors is fantastic. We wish we could expand our work and have a greater impact, but we need the resources 
to do be able to do that. 

The young people we work with face multiple challenges – some may become homeless during our mentoring, or face mental health issues, and there are the basic issues of not being able to afford a good meal during the day or even having the money to travel from one place to another. We always need to be aware of these issues and think ahead of each young person’s needs.

I’m an optimist by nature, and I think you have to be in the charitable sector. I always want to see the best for the young people we work for. I not only want to see each one be able to reach their potential but go beyond it. As a country, as an economy, and within the charity sector, I think we have no choice but to be positive in terms of the road ahead. I think we need to focus and understand that there will be challenges, but there will also be fantastic opportunities. 

The one thing that Brexit has done (that I’ve noticed in this particular sector) is that it has highlighted the divisions this country has always had. If that’s to do with relationships with deprived communities, or the lack of community integration in some areas of the country, at least we have become more aware of the reality of these challenges. The charity sector will have to step up. 
The internet and social media are extremely important to the lives of young people today, so charities are looking at clever ways of engaging with these communities that don’t necessarily require the same amount of resources as before.  

We’ve got some great innovators and some great thought leaders in the sector. The Prince’s Trust under the leadership of Dame Martina Milburn has already launched its e-mentoring programme online, an example of how charities are innovating and proving that we will take on challenges, maximise the opportunities and more importantly work towards ensuring our work is no longer required for future generations. 

In the business world we know disruptive technology is changing the way business is done globally. There is no doubt technology will always enhance the work of business and enhance the work of charities, but I think it is far off in terms of solving the problems.

You can find out more about the Mosaic Network here 

Harris Bokhari – Harry Potter author among 33 receiving philanthropy honours

Thirty-three philanthropists, who have collectively given more than £100m, have been honoured for their commitment to giving in an awards ceremony in London last night. 

Original article written on 7 Feb 2013

Thirty-three philanthropists, who have collectively given more than £100m, have been honoured for their commitment to giving in an awards ceremony in London last night. 

Philanthropists ranging from Harry Potter author JK Rowling (pictured) to City philanthropist John Stone were recognised as Beacon Fellows, in the 8th annual Beacon Awards for Philanthropy held at Mansion House last night. 

JK Rowling, recognised for the work of her foundation the Volant Charitable Trust, said the Beacon Awards were validation and encouragement for thoughtful philanthropy. 

“None of us who are privileged in our daily lives and fortunate enough to have more money than we need should require a pat on the back for the act of giving, but we do need help to spread the word that responsible giving can make a difference; to individuals and communities, locally, nationally and internationally,” she said.  

It is estimated that the 33 individuals honoured have given more than £100m to good causes, and raised an additional £21m. 

Fellows were awarded in seven categories, which included for the first time a specific award for ‘City Philanthropy’. Alderman Roger Gifford, Lord Mayor of the City of London, said that a tradition of valuing endowed capital and strong tax and charity law has meant London is an international hub for philanthropic foundations, and said such awards “can inspire others and maximise the impact of philanthropic giving”. 

The awards, which are put on by the Beacon Fellowship and JP Morgan Private Bank, are sponsored by the City Bridge Trust and the Pears Foundation. 

Award winners 

Beacon Award for City Philanthropy

  • Harvey McGrath – Chair of the education charity, the Prince’s Teaching Institute
  • John Stone – Founder of the Stone Family Foundation
  • 2011/12 Young Philanthropy Syndicate founders (Michael Harris, Adam Pike, Sam Cohen, Alex Dwek, Alex Gardner, Paul Gorrie, Niccolo Manzoni, Jack Prevezer, Conor Quinn)

Beacon Award for Targeted Philanthropy 

  • Paul Marshall – Co-founder and trustee of global children’s charity ARK 
  • Gordon Morrison – Chairman of Sargent Cancer Care for Children  
  • J.K. Rowling OBE – Founder of the Volant Charitable Trust

The Beacon Award for Philanthropy Advocate 

  • Angila Chada & Michael McKibbin – Ambassadors for the Community Foundation NI 
  • Harris Bokhari – National advisory board member for the HRH Prince of Wales charity Mosaic
  • Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett – Ex-chief executive of Marie Curie Cancer Care 
  • Kavita Oberoi – Chair of the Global Girls’ Fund Board

Beacon Award for Place-Based Philanthropy 

  • Nick Ferguson CBE & Jane Ferguson – Founders of the Kilfinan Trust
  • Jack Morris OBE – Chairman of the Business Design Centre Group

The Beacon Award for Cultural Philanthropy 

  • Carol Colburn Grigor CBE – Manages her family-founded Dunard Fund
  • Lloyd Dorfman CBE – Member of the NT Board
  • Sir Vernon Ellis – Chairman of the National Opera Studio, president of English National Opera, chair of the British Council, president of the Classical Opera Company, former trustee of the Royal College of Music and RCM Fellow

The Beacon Award for Impact Investment

  • Sir Ronald Cohen – Chair, Big Society Capital; former chair, Social Investment Task Force; former chair Commission on Unclaimed Assets; co-founder and former Chair, Bridges Ventures; and fo-founder and former director, Social Financial UK.
  • Nick O’Donohoe – CEO of Big Society Capital and on the board of the Global Impact Investing Network
  • John Pontin OBE & Wendy Stephenson – founders of Converging World charity

Beacon Award for Pioneering Philanthropy 

  • Richard Bradbury CBE – Fundamental supporter of the charity Scope
  • Stephen Dawson OBE – Co-founder of Impetus Trust
  • Michael Norton OBE – Founder of over 40 charities including Youthbank and http://www.buzzbnk.org
  • Marcelle Speller OBE – founder of Localgiving.com

Four special awards for the highest standards of philanthropy in the UK 

  • Sir Vernon Ellis 
  • Harvey McGrath – Chair of the education charity, the Prince’s Teaching Institute
  • J.K. Rowling OBE 
  • John Stone 

– See more at: https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news/harry-potter-author-among-33-receiving-philanthropy-honours.html#sthash.PAz6Gkc1.dpuf

Philanthropy in 2013: Can Anybody Play?

We’re not in the business of telling people to give up their money, but we do promote the idea that anyone can be a philanthropist. The word philanthropist isn’t just defined by the Bill and Melinda Gates of the world.

Original article published on 19/02/2013 Mark Greer Philanthropy Director, UK Community Foundations

Nobody would argue that philanthropy is a bad thing. But it’s understandable that in a time of austerity, some may question their ability to give, and the charity sector’s right to ask.

We’re not in the business of telling people to give up their money, but we do promote the idea that anyone can be a philanthropist. The word philanthropist isn’t just defined by the Bill and Melinda Gates of the world. It is also the person who gives smaller amounts in a thoughtful and strategic way. As UK Community Foundations, we’re familiar with helping people who want to give to charity at all levels – from people with average incomes to millionaires, and we find it encouraging that many people are still giving even in today’s tough economic climate. But as we learnt from the 2012 World Giving Index compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), the charity sector has been suffering from its own double dip, and giving is down worldwide. So while we believe anybody can give, we know we have a job to inspire people to do so.

Earlier this month we held the 2013 Beacon Awards, which celebrated a group of outstanding philanthropists who were awarded Beacon Fellowships. Outstanding not necessarily for what they gave but for how, and where, they gave. The fellows demonstrated great diversity of giving: from Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling to ARK Schools co-founder Paul Marshall, putting their energy and resources into fields such as health, the environment, education, culture, third world sanitation and more. We feel the Beacon Awards provide a useful marker for where philanthropy is headed. And looking at this year’s fellows, that means it is still going strong, but it is evolving. The 2013 Beacon Fellows show that good philanthropy is targeted at a clearly defined cause, and can also be ambitious and experimental.

The awards are not about congratulating a small group of elite people. They are intended to celebrate and, crucially, to promote philanthropy. Each Beacon Fellow has taken a different path to giving, and we hope their personal stories will inspire others to consider how they too can give at a level appropriate to them.

The fact that UK Community Foundations – an alliance of philanthropic organisations which connects donors with local causes – manages the Beacon Awards programme is significant. We do so because we believe that while it is important to celebrate the philanthropy superstars, they can also play a role in inspiring giving at any level. Zac Goldsmith MP, himself a previous Beacon Award winner, has said “it is not what you’ve got, but what you do with what you’ve got.” We also believe that philanthropy is not just about giving from personal fortunes. One of this year’s Beacon Fellows, Harris Bokhari, received a fellowship because he has achieved outstanding fundraising success – raising over £750,000 in the last year entirely on his own time. He has helped Asian business owners support neighbourhood charities, and he raised more than half of the £300,000 target for the Pakistan Recovery Fund.

This year’s Beacon Awards also celebrated where people give. Angila Chada and Michael McKibbin, who won fellowships in the Philanthropy Advocate category, are involved in philanthropy in Northern Ireland. Their willingness to talk publicly about their own giving has helped inspire a community in which, historically, philanthropy has not been something people wanted to shout about. Angila Chada set up the Raj Darshna foundation in honour of her parents. It is the Community Foundation of Northern Ireland’s first ever gradual growth endowment fund. Angila is an advocate for philanthropy not being exclusive to High Net Worth individuals. She gives a portion of her own salary, but also encourages her friends and families to invest.

What all these people -Paul Marshall working to provide excellent education for children in disadvantaged communities, Angila Chada setting up a family trust in Northern Ireland, J.K. Rowling investing in neurological research – have in common is the desire to give something up to help another person. Philanthropy in the UK is alive and well and we hope that the 2013 Beacon Fellows will inspire others to give to causes they feel strongly about.