So what is girls out loud? And why should you get involved?
Inspired to act to ensure girls connect with real role models founder Jane Kenyon set up Girls Out Loud to engage with teenage women.
For the past 15 years, after training to be a coach, I’ve worked exclusively with professional women.
I attracted a lot of strong, dynamic working women looking for help and set up Well-Heeled Divas, a company that helps women to shine.
Very early on I started to see red flags relating to the needs of young women.
I began to notice a lot of women were bringing their young daughters to events. I was being invited into schools to speak to girls and I didn’t like what I saw. I was seeing self-harm going up, aggressive behaviour in young girls, and evidence their aspirations were draining.
When I spoke at an inspiration conference for young people in Blackpool attended by 1000 young women and was the only woman on the platform, I realised that I had to connect the amazing Well-Heeled Divas who had come through my programme with young girls in the classroom.
I stayed in Blackpool to pilot a programme with 15 very bright girls who were seriously in trouble, from very tough backgrounds, some with serious mental health issues including self-harm, eating disorders, drinking.
Girls Out Loud was the result. When girls at the school started calling me their “big sister” I developed the big sister mentoring programme that Nicola is now piloting at Enterprise.
We are now working with girls who are much younger and the issues have quadrupled. The demand has gone up and the funding has gone down because schools are under more pressure.
Being a mentor is very special. We structure a clear 12-month programme with 20 big sisters and 20 little sisters working together in each school. The big sisters work together as part of a network of 20 outstanding women in their area. We train these women to be big sister mentors over a 16-hour programme. The skills that they take back to their business after 12 months are far greater than on any corporate course.
Being a big sister is a huge commitment. And yet we get 40 per cent of women wanting to continue for a second or a third year, because the big sister is getting so much out of it.
We’ve run nearly 22 programmes now. We do around eight a year and we’ve been running for five years. We’d like to run an awful lot more.
If you would like to get involved in the Girls Out Loud programme, email Nicola.J.Williams@ehi.com or Leigh.Lavefever-Ayer@ehi.com.