Welcome to ‘Sister Talk’ our latest blog from our Big Sisters.


In October, I’ll say goodbye to my Girls Out Loud mentee. Mentee sounds quite formal, but it doesn’t feel formal. Mentee sounds professional and distanced, and we spend loads of time looking at Dogs on Instagram. It’s a little more relaxed.There’s a special tie between us, knotted with a thin thread that we’ve spent time […]

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A Big Sister programme visit to the Co-op Head Office in Manchester

Last week a group of our Year 9 girls who have been participating in the Girls Out Loud Big Sister Mentoring Programme enjoyed a trip to the Co-op Head Office at 1 Angel Square in Manchester. Our Big Sister Local Lead and Stardom Coach, Sarra Smith, got in touch with the Co-op to tell them […]

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You have to see it to become it: why the Women’s World Cup is more than football

Emily Brinnand our new Lead coach shares her thoughts on the game….. “I’ve never seen so many women on prime time TV before! Is this really happening?” was the question that fell out of my mouth while watching England’s first game in the Women’s World Cup against Scotland last week. Thankfully my friend reassured me […]

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Today I had the privilege of taking part in a ‘Role Model Relay’ with Girls Out Loud. This is an organisation who seek to inspire teenage girls to have confidence, self belief, resilience and positive self image. To encourage them to think big, embrace risk and reach for the stars. All things I think we […]

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By Sarah Jane Thoms, Big Sister at Girls Out Loud…. As part of the ‘twelve days of Christmas’ initiative, 10 little sisters from Girls Out Loud’s Big Sister Programme were invited to PLT’s HQ for an afternoon of girl power. The girls were ecstatic to be spending time at the fashion giant’s home and I […]

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Social Media an Easy Scapegoat

24% of young people are depressed – because of social media 1 in 4 girls will self-harm before they leave secondary school – because of social media Girls are obsessed with their appearance – because of social media Girls are now more aggressive and mean – because of social media 80% of girls will be […]

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Can I have the Girl with the Brightest Smile please!

Jessica has just completed a year as a Big Sister at a Manchester school. This is the speech she made to her Little Sister & the rest of the room at their graduation event. Where do I start? When I first heard about this project to become a ‘Big Sister’ I looked in to what […]

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“I know what an engineer is Miss”


Through the wonderful organisation Girls Out Loud, I have just completed a year as a mentor to a 13 year old girl. This wasn’t part of the plan, when asked, my inner voice screamed “Noooo!”, but having done it, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Not for the warm fuzzy feelings we associate with doing good for a youngster, but for the massive impact it had on me.

Mentoring a teenager came with the expected; “I can’t put my hand up in class, I’ll get laughed at”; “I can’t be the lead in the school show, all the good people will be in it”, and whilst its easy to write these off as “usual teenage angst”; are any of us really so different? How many of us must be persuaded (read “told”) to take to the stage and speak at the local roadshow or coerced to step up and take the lead in this initiative or that working group? Whilst we justify it as “being too busy”, or having “too much on”; can we honestly say our motives for seeking to avoid being in the limelight are fundamentally different?

Mentoring becomes a process of putting things into context (if you stick your hand up and ask, really what’s the worst that can happen?), identifying and challenging the persons own limiting beliefs (why are you not good enough, what makes you say that?); exploring issues to understand the bigger picture and context in which the mentee see’s it, versus what is actually going on. But in doing so, you form habits; habits that then reflect into your own thoughts and your own actions.

And so, in the year of mentoring I have broken down some of my own limiting beliefs; I know I can run a half marathon because I did (though never again!). I am acknowledging and accepting my skills and using them ‘putting my hand up in class’ as an Advisory Board member for Girls Out Loud and as part of the Industrial Panel for UCLAN’s Civil Engineering Dept. I have ‘taken the lead part in the show’; speaking in front of 80 ladies at a charity lunch about my experiences of being a female civil engineer and most recently, I have left the comfort zone of the Highways Sector and taken a leap into Natural Resources to continue to develop and grow, not afraid (well maybe a little bit!), but more excited to meet new people and experience new things.

Shiona MacDonald

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