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Girls’ Conference March 2015

Girls’ Conference to mark International Women’s Day March 2015

SI Sutton Coldfield and our daughter club SI Tamworth held a Girls’ conference on 11th March, to coincide with the UN International Women’s Day.

Over 100 Girls aged between 15 and 18 years old from 9 schools attended and were totally enthralled by all the speakers.

‘Aspire and Achieve’ was the strong message delivered by all the speakers, every one being a young woman that had a story or achievement to share.

Speaker 1: Ashley Exley- Porter – BBC’s Young Apprentice winner in 2012.

Ashleigh gave an insight into her journey to win The Young Apprentice in 2012. She explained that her journey was a culmination of sheer determination, focus and drive to succeed without the benefit of a privileged childhood. She spoke of the support of her family which kept her grounded and of her work ethic of doing up to 4 jobs at any one time from the age of 13. As Sir Alan Sugar said, he admired her sheer guts and hard work and that is why she won.

Speaker 2: Yeol Gum a young ambassador from the Princes’ Trust.

Yeol was an asylum seeker from Israel, who told of her hard start in life and her survival of living on the streets and being led into using drugs whilst in an abusive relationship. She spoke of  her low self-esteem due to her excess weight. She spoke of how through the involvement of the Prince’s Trust she is now studying for an HR qualification, on a distance course getting up at 4 am to go on-line. Now happily married and happy with herself she has now become an ambassador with the Princes Trust.

Speaker 3: Dawn Candy from Home Start

Dawn’s topic was ‘Second Chances’. Dawn told of how her project No.8 supports girls who have made mistakes and gives them a second chance to succeed and that it is possible to follow a different path through life.

No 8 provides supported living accommodation for local homeless 16 and 17-year-old mothers and their babies. Whilst the house will provide much-needed shelter, it will also give visitors the opportunity to learn life skills, self-confidence and preparation for independence and a career There is also a training room, which is used to encourage those staying in the house the chance to return to education and prepare for work.

Home Start received a donation of £300 at the conference with a further donation of £200.

Speaker 4: Melody Hossaini a semifinalist on the Apprentice, founder of InspirEngage.

Melody ran 2 interactive workshop sessions with the girls. She was with her family an asylum seeker from Iran who after spending some years in Sweden came to the UK. At 13 she was part of the Youth Parliament, while not being totally fluent in English.

She founded and runs, InspirEngage ( ) working with young girls running ‘skills boot camps’, and giving talks in schools. She herself was trained by Desmond Tutu on peace implementation and US vice president Al Gore on climate change.

Her message for the girls was ‘feel the fear’, know how far you want to go and sometimes take a step backwards to achieve your goal, have confidence, if you don’t believe in it no one else will and plan you goal, bring it to life and make it happen.

Melody’s website is

Over lunch the girls had time to visit stands providing information on: Soroptimists and our work, Breast Care Awareness, Drug and alcohol abuse, Mental Health Services for teenagers, Child Line, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), plus talc to apprentices from Jaguar Land Rover and get makeup advice from Boots No.7 for their school prom.

After lunch we watched a fashion show. The clothes were provided by New Look and admirably modelled by 3 girls from Wilnecote High School. The outfits showed suitable clothes for interview and clothes to celebrate getting the job or a University place.

Speaker 5 : Abi Philips Singer/song writer and ex-actress from the soap Hollyoaks.

Abi a local Sutton Coldfield girl, spoke of her moving personal experiences of being bullied at school and later of being a victim of cyberbulling while acting.  Abi found the best way of coping was through music and writing song lyrics about her experience. Abi also performed 3 songs accompanied by her father.

We thank our sponsors SCC, Tamworth Community Chest, The Rawlett Trust, ASDA and BRITVIC.

A wonderful conference and high praise from schools and the girls.