More than 100 girls from Merseyside schools gathered at Anfield Stadium for a special ‘#BeYou’ celebration on Friday 7 October, just ahead of the 10th anniversary of the International Day of the Girl, which raises awareness of the obstacles that girls face and celebrates their achievements.
Delivered with funding and support from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, ‘#BeYou’ is a nationwide roadshow featuring talks and workshops designed to further equip young women to ‘be bold; be brave; be heard – be you!’
The event marked the end of the attendees’ year-long mentoring journey delivered through The Girls’ Network and gave them the opportunity to hear inspirational speakers talk about careers and motivation, to network with local businesses and other young women, and to gain new skills.
The Girls’ Network is an award-winning national charity that supports young women aged 14-19 by pairing them with a mentor and delivering a programme of events and activities to build their confidence and life skills.
With many young girls reporting feelings of low self-esteem, lack of confidence and pressure to fit in, The Girls’ Network mentoring helps them feel happier, more confident and positive about the future. On completing their 12-month mentoring girls can join the Ambassadors’ Community: a lifelong network of young women with access to work experience, workshops, and events that can up-skill them and help enhance their futures.
Merseyside influencer and choreographer Alyx Steele, who has worked with global superstars Rihanna and Pink, as well as on ITV’s X-Factor and The Brit Awards, opened the event and took part in a Q&A with young women who have been supported by the charity.
Other speakers include Winnie Ogwang, CEO of youth community consultancy Living Proof, led a workshop on how to be assertive, and body confidence coach Nicola Chan, delivered a self-defence skills session.
Alyx Steele says, “It is so exciting to be part of empowering young women. I am so proud of these girls for facing up to the challenges of growing up today with help from The Girls’ Network and their mentors. We can all achieve our goals and our dreams if we support one another.”
The Girls’ Network has been operating in Merseyside since 2018 and will be working with 250 girls and young women across the Northwest this year.
Former mentee Yentel Russell, 19, says, “Charities like The Girls’ Network are a lifeline for young women. They provide vital support, guidance and advice to young girls from real people who can relate to them and their situation.”
The Girls’ Network is looking for more women in Merseyside to sign up to become volunteer mentors.
Fiona Wilkie is a local mentor who worked in the housing sector before retraining as a counsellor. Now in her third year supporting students from Holly Lodge Girls’ College, she says, “Everyone can fulfil their potential in the right environment. If I can support someone to overcome the difficulties they are facing, then they can achieve their potential and I can make a positive impact. I’d encourage anyone with skills to share to sign up as a mentor.”
The Girls’ Network CEO and co-founder, Charly Young, says, “Our Anfield event encouraged young women to ‘be bold, be brave, be heard’ – things that we celebrate in our mentoring and Ambassador Community. Our network offers girls and young women many role models and opportunities to achieve their ambitions. Thanks to the generous support of Enterprise, we can support many more young women to discover their skills, be confident and shape their future.”
Enterprise Rent-A-Car announced its five-year £250,000 donation to The Girls’ Network earlier this year. The donation forms part of Enterprise’s ROAD Forward (Respect, Opportunity, Achievement, Diversity) programme, a $55 million pledge to open new doors for individuals who are disproportionately affected by lack of access to resources in education, health and wellness.
Enterprise has also committed to create a bespoke programme of workshops, job shadowing opportunities and mentorship for young women at The Girls’ Network.
Jennifer Koontz, Chair of both Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s Enterprising Women gender diversity group and the company’s UK Cultural Compass Committee which shapes DEI strategy, says, “Diversity, equity and inclusion are part of our guiding principles and our ‘cultural compass’, which informs all our business decisions at Enterprise. ‘#BeYou’ is a fantastic initiative that continues to have a huge impact on the girls that attend. We are really looking forward to the event at Anfield and excited to be helping young women thrive with The Girls’ Network.”
Rishi Jain, Senior Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Liverpool FC said, “As a club we are delighted to be hosting today’s event through our partnership with The Girls’ Network. This collaboration forms an important part of the work within our Red Together campaign, which embodies the club’s commitment to ensuring that equality, diversity and inclusion is embedded across everything we do.”
The Girls’ Network is hosting online training sessions in October for new volunteer mentors to support girls in local secondary schools – to find out more visit www.thegirlsnetwork.org.uk
Images credit: The Girls’ Network/Paul Greenwood