As an entrepreneur, for a while I thought that because I have been extremely lucky in life (and tbh as I have matured!) I have felt more and more that I have a responsibility to give back to the community that I live in, work in and absolutely love!
When I first heard Jane Kenyon talk at Jodie Salt’s book launch, I got a chance to meet her and hear her personal story and how Girls Out Loud was born and it struck a chord with me, that we do have to look after the young girls in our society who are bombarded and inundated with images and words about how they should look and act! This was ultimately limiting their potential personally and in society.
It was always at the back of my mind that I could give back to society but managing a small business, bringing up two children and a running a home meant that it was on my to do list, but never at the top!
In 2022, during lockdown and after a number of health issues, I had the chance (like many people) to think and reassess how I would like my life to go and what I would be proud of if I looked back on my life and the answer was that I would ultimately like to make a difference to the younger generation by using my experience and skills which had been hard won!
So in 2022 I stepped up…
During the application process we had to fill out a form to explain why we wanted to be part of the programme, together with a story about our own childhood and background and how it had affected us into adulthood. This helped me immensely to get in touch with the child within and also helped me see from a young girl’s perspective how I would speak to her and her likely emotions and aspirations. It was very powerful.
The programme provided a structure for one on one mentorship with a young girl who had expressed an interest in attending in the school environment. As well as a complementary programme of support for the Big Sister which included upfront training with the Founder Jane which alongside a thorough grounding in mentorship also gave me an opportunity to meet some amazing professional women and entrepreneurs
Jane and her team, then had the difficult task of matching a Little Sister with a Big Sister they believed had a connection and would get the best out of each other.
When I was matched with my Little Sister I was totally delighted and humbled as she was such a wonderful young girl and to have the chance to steer her in the right direction and support her in her life choices honestly, it touched my heart (and brought a tear to my eye!) as I realised this was an opportunity to make a real difference!
What I didn’t factor into the process was what I would learn about myself and what I was saying to myself! Ha ha. For example, when I was advising my Little Sister about the little steps she could take towards her dream, it brought back memories of what I had been told (or had not been told) to give me confidence and open up my eyes of what opportunities and possibilities were available
The effect on me, from telling my Little Sister to use her voice, I also found mine again – I became more vocal at networking events and even surprised myself by grabbing the Mic and making an impromptu speech (fuelled by a couple of proseccos) where I shared what was in my heart to the audience and even got a round of applause!
So what I am saying is that the responsibility is on us as women to be that person that our Little Sisters aspire to be and demonstrate it, either in the spoken or written word and the ripple effects are far reaching and raise everyone’s aspirations, one by one.
I am so glad that I have taken part in the programme, it has been emotional at times as it coincided with the menopause, eek! and I cannot wait to see my Little Sister get the credit that she deserves as she builds her confidence and raises her aspirations by “seeing one, doing one”
If you do have the chance to give some of your valuable time to inspire and support the next generation of young girls, then I promise you it will be well worth it – making a difference demands action not just words.
Today might not be the day you can do it, but bear it in mind for the future. If not now, when? It might be one of the best decisions you ever make, personally and professionally!