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Role Models to Inspire and Empower Girls

“Our mission is to inspire and empower girls …” Does that sound familiar?

Hayley Misell Girls Network and Yvonne Gibbon
Hayley Misell (left) with Yvonne Gibbon, Regional Programme Action Officer

That is the mission of The Girls’ Network, a very young UK charity. As Soroptimists we, too, have similar aspirations. Therefore, the guest speaker at the recent Regional Programme Action Meeting, Hayley Misell (Network Manager – Manchester), had a keen-eared audience.

The Network addresses the needs of girls who just ‘coast’ along. For so many in the least-advantaged communities there is a gap between girls’ dreams and their expectations. Many of them do not have the self-belief necessary to make the best use of their capabilities.

For one year girls are each linked with a mentor, a professional career woman who acts as a positive female role model. This ongoing relationship helps the girls develop in confidence. It opens their eyes to the possibilities – and opportunities – available to them. They have the chance to explore beyond the traditional ‘Five C’ jobs: cleaning, catering, caring, cashiering and clerking.

The Network works with 14 – 19 year-old girls. Each benefits from the 1:1 mentoring programme. There may also be workshops (to meet other participants), work experience visits, skills development and confidence-building. A cohort of young ‘ambassadors’ who have completed their year is also being developed. They can act as further role models for the participants.

From its base in south-east England the The Girls’ Network spread to Manchester in 2016; Liverpool is due to start up in 2017; further expansion is planned. The potential for partnership working between Soroptimists and The Girls’ Network is exciting, and one that local clubs may wish to explore.