We are always looking for ways we can enhance people’s lives as a financial services provider, an employer and as a community-based business. The Social Responsibility Team involves dedicated Ellis Bates employees who have a passion for the environment and for supporting local communities. One of our Team Leaders, Bethany Irwin, is actively involved with and recently attended an event run by The Girls’ Network:
Q. Tell us a little bit about what The Girls’ Network is all about?
The Girls Network is a national charity started in 2013 by two teachers who had a desire to empower their female students and to teach them they can achieve their goals. The charity is split across 8 regions and has recently expanded further in the North East to include Northumberland and County Durham. For more information on The Girls’ Network, please visit https://www.thegirlsnetwork.org.uk/
Q. What made you want to become involved in The Girls’ Network?
I’ve always been extremely passionate about helping young people in the local community. I have led a Brownie unit for over 7 years – the same one I attended when I was younger and noticed the difference just one conversation can make to the girls’ outlook on what they can achieve. I have previously volunteered for a non-profit called ‘This is Creative Enterprise’, a fantastic organisation that specialise in mentoring students on creative careers and providing them with real-life experiences.
I wanted others to know that there is more than just one route to a successful career. Therefore, I contacted local schools and colleges to arrange to go in and talk about my own experiences and to answer any questions about what apprenticeships are and how they work.
Q. How can people support The Girls’ Network?
There are numerous ways people can get involved. They can donate, take part in a sporting event, fundraise, become a corporate partner or become a mentor. Mentoring is the route I am currently undertaking so I can share my own experience and skills with a girl that might not benefit from this support otherwise.
Q. What does the mentoring process look like?
Once you have enrolled and are accepted onto the programme you attend training sessions and an information evening. Once you have passed a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check you can attend a matching event at the local school, where every mentor can speak with each of the girls. Once you have been matched to someone there are 10 mentoring sessions, 1 per month, and the programme concludes with a celebration event. There is the opportunity to join the Ambassador programme where you can continue to mentor on an on-going basis.
Q. What was the reason for the event you recently attended and what did you take away from it?
The event was an insightful and inspiring session comprising of talks from experienced mentors who had been through the process already.
There was one particularly moving story by a lady who talked about how much she learned from her mentee and how she had been made redundant within the last year. Instead of withdrawing from the programme entirely, she founded her own company, Positive About Inclusion, an equality, diversity and inclusion consultancy.
The rest of the session covered discussions with others at different stages of the process. There were those who loved mentoring so much they were now veterans, holding a wealth of useful information.
I think it is important for young people to not have the added pressure of worrying about what others think about them. The fact that everyone is so different is amazing and there is so much you can learn from others. If I could give any advice to my younger self the message I would express is that the most important thing is just be yourself!
Q. What is next in your journey with The Girls’ Network?
I’m currently waiting for my DBS check to come back. Once that has been completed, I can choose a school and attend a match event to meet my first mentee.
To keep up to date on other events and causes the Social Responsibility Team support, visit our news and insights page.