Aspire and Achieve Conference


SI Tamworth and our mother club SI Sutton Coldfield held a Girls’ conference on 11th March, to coincide with World Women’s’ day at the weekend.

From what started 9 months ago as a little idea, we saw yesterday true programme action working on the local level. 10 schools came and were totally enthralled by all the speakers.

Our conference title ‘Aim To Aspire’ 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 the young apprentice winner in 2012.

Not only told us of the insight to The Apprentice but enthused the girls with 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. She was a girl from a non-aspirational family, who certainly had no money, and look at her now.

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

Yeol was an asylum seeker from Israel, who was not proud of her background, of being on the streets, using drugs, in an abusive relationship and with a low self-esteem due to her excess weight. 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, she is happily married and happy with herself. She has now become an ambassador with the Princes Trust who gave her life.

Speaker 3: Dawn Candy from Home Start

Dawn’s topic was ‘Second Chances’. As she said girls do make mistakes, but that is not the end of the world and establishments such as No.8 are there to help the girls make a fresh start and continue with education.

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.

As Dawn said if you believe that your guy will stick around, the council will give you a decent flat and you will have loads of benefits – forget it, you will be on your own, in a crummy bedsit with wall paper hanging off , little money and no social life.

SI Tamworth gave Home Start a donation of £300 at the conference as Dawn declined a personal fee.

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

Melody did 2 interactive sessions with the girls. She was an asylum seeker from Iran. 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 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

During the lunch break there were stands for the girls to look at providing information on: Soroptimists, Breast Care Awareness, Drug and alcohol abuse, Mental Health Services for teenagers, Child Line, FGM, plus apprentices from Jaguar Land Rover and makeup advice from Boots No.7.

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 ex actress from the soap Hollyoaks and now a song writer /singer.

Abi a local girl from Sutton Coldfield, gave a talk from the heart on how she had been bullied at school then while acting on TV was a victim of cyber bullying. Abi found the best way of coping was through writing song lyrics about her experience. It was sad to hear her say that it is hard to write happy lyrics. Abi not only spoke but she also performed 3 songs accompanied by her father. Girls queued for their selfies with her and she was happy to stay for as long as the girls wanted.

From what was just an idea 9 months ago, we saw a fantastic conference.

This would not have happened without the wonderful sponsorship secured from SCC, Tamworth Community Chest, The Rawlett Trust, ASDA and BRITVIC.
Or without the fantastic team effort from the members and Programme Action Committees of SI Tamworth and SI Sutton Coldfield who worked so hard.