I’m Urfan and I have been aware of Babbasa since 2011 (when it was known as BYEP) and shortly after signed up to be a mentor. The work they did really resonated with me because of my own life experience. My parents were first-generation immigrants and weren’t in a position to talk to me about my education or career options and opportunities as they didn’t know how things worked in this country, and I didn’t have anyone else in my life that could mentor me. Had Babbasa existed back then, I definitely would have contacted them for support. I see many of the young people we work with as younger versions of myself, so it brings me great satisfaction knowing that whatever value I bring to Babbasa is going to have a positive influence on their life journey.

I used to work at the University of Bristol and was head of the digital team in communications and marketing for 15 years. After I left, I set up my consultancy called Planet Urf, where I help businesses and brands create long-term & purpose-driven value from social inclusion, missions, markets & relationships. I also recently set up a social enterprise helping the public and third sector improve their internal and external communications and messaging via the use of video.

I tend to float up and down and left and right in the Babbasa matrix. I advise on strategy and support operations in multiple ways using my skills, experience and professional network. I help develop new partnerships with businesses and organisations and identify opportunities that will bring value to Babbasa. The end goal of what I do is to connect our young talent with the opportunities that exist within Bristol.

One of my favourite parts is meeting young people and listening to their ideas for what they want to do and what they’d like the world to look like. It’s so inspiring to be surrounded by such talented, determined and creative young people. I also like meeting the people in the businesses and organisations I help develop partnerships with and learning more about what they do. Bristol is a fascinating city with so many interesting businesses and organisations, so it’s a real joy being able to connect them in a mutually meaningful way with Babbasa. I also like working with my colleagues at Babbasa as we all share similar social values, and they’re all very smart with enormous hearts and great fun to be with.

I love music and discovering new sounds. I used to DJ but these days make off-kilter music mixes. Mixing music is one way of expressing my many intersectional cultural reference points. I like what Nietzsche said: “Without music, life would be a mistake.” (I actually have the t-shirt of the quote, music geek that I am!) I like to do DIY and made a garden bench during the early weeks of lockdown. I also write a lot about the things I’ve experienced as a displaced, chameleon-like Asian lad from Leeds.

If I could give the young people any advice it would be to find a mentor. They will advise, offer encouragement, give constructive criticism and help stimulate your personal and professional growth. It’ll be one of the best investments you’ll ever make. And no matter what age you are as you move on in your journey, always try to have a mentor (or two) in your life.  And if you can, offer to mentor someone else as you’ll learn as much about yourself as the mentee.