The Girls Network aiming to “save the future” of young women

A national mentoring charity that supports young women from the least advantaged communities is celebrating its success in saving the class of 2021 across Tees Valley.

With both school closures and cancelled exams, many young people across Tees Valley will feel that their future is hanging in the balance. However, The Girls Network, which has remained fully functional throughout the pandemic, has mentored more young women than ever before after experiencing a 30% increase in applications in 2020.

As a result of its tireless efforts to reach young women in disadvantaged communities across Tees Valley and nationally, it reports that 98% of the girls from Tees Valley matched with a mentor have said that the mentoring programme has helped to increase their confidence and feel more positive about their future.

Meanwhile, 81% reported that mentoring has helped them to focus on virtual learning and encouraged them to knuckle down on their schoolwork.

Mentee Hollie said@ “I feel like The Girls Network has helped clear my mind about future life and bring out my individual personality as a student. I am so grateful for the help. I am like a new student, focusing on my revision a lot more as I feel more educated and informed on how to get where I want to be.”

Another mentee, Laila, who was mentored throughout the pandemic added: “We are all in this pandemic together and having a mentor, is having a friend you can talk to about how you’re coping with these drastic changes. Working together with your mentor can help you to work around any issues and turn this situation into an opportunity.”

Studies show the pandemic has most negatively impacted women, young people, and those from the least advantaged communities, with teenage girls aged between 14-19 the hardest hit.

Rosalind Stuart, network manager in the Tees Valley, said “The programme across Tees Valley has been a huge success over the past year, despite the pandemic, and we’ve had more girls apply to join than ever before.

“It’s so great to see the impact that mentoring can have on one individual and how it can help inspire and motivate them to realise that they can make their dreams a reality.”

The Girls Network has remained fully functional during the pandemic and quickly switched to virtual mentoring at the beginning of lockdown last year. The charity was inundated with applications to join and managed to match more girls with mentors than ever before. The results have been hugely positive.”

Over the past 12 months The Girls Network has matched and mentored over 1,300 girls from disadvantaged communities across England, recorded almost 3,000 hours of virtual mentoring, run 16 virtual workshops and seen engagement increase by 100%.

Charly Young, CEO and founder of The Girls Network, said: “Young people have had a really tough year. They have had to quickly adjust to virtual learning and life at home, without being able to spend time with their friends, and many have also felt worried and despondent about their future.

“We are really proud of how the programme has worked during the pandemic and the impact it has had on the young women we have supported.

“We hope to see more mentors signing up to be involved in our programme so that we can continue to motivate and encourage young girls in the least advantaged communities to be ambitious for their futures, and to reach those ambitions”

The award-winning charity is now asking for help to reach more girls, appealing for the public to Save the Class of 2021 to coincide with International Women’s Day on Monday gone.

They have launched a provocative campaign playing on high school tropes with a dark edge: scribbled out ‘Fearbook’ photos show pupil Sarah L voted “most likely to fall through the gaps in the system” and Amber A as “least likely to have a foot in the door”… unless they are matched with a mentor.