Big Sis Girl Empowerment Collective

Current stage: Awarded

Collaborators

  • Big Sis CIC
  • Nature & Me
  • The Nest Southwest CIC

Collective’s aims and ideas

The issue:

In our community work we have noticed that the biggest crisis of confidence occurs between year 5-7 as the transition from primary into secondary school is huge. By working with young girls between the ages of 8-12 on the areas of emotional literacy and menstrual education, we have witnessed the positive effects of this work in the girls self-confidence, emotional awareness, body knowledge and healthy body image, which have proven to ease the puberty transition period. Statistics also show us that pre-pubescent girls are particularly vulnerable to mental health challenges like anxiety, depression and self-harm. It has also been shown that puberty experiences, such as menstruation, and a lack of feeling prepared, contributes to these mental health challenges. Pre-puberty is a crucial time in a young persons’ life that needs to be supported!

What we will do:
We train female students studying in education related subjects to provide mentoring and support to these girls. We plan to deliver our near-peer Mentoring Programme for Plymouth’ primary and secondary schools free of charge once it is safe to do so. Our workshops offer valuable support that is in line with the PHSE curriculum guidelines. We provide interactive education on crucial issues such as body literacy, emotional literacy skills, and
accessible and sustainable menstrual cycle education. The young girls benefit from the knowledge and experience of their Big Sis mentor whilst learning new skills in an informal and safe space in school. This reduces the uncertainty, fears and anxiety that arise for many young girls as they enter puberty and strengthen girl to girl bonds. Our volunteers will also be trained to deal with any problems they are confronted with and receive ongoing support from our expert team. They are recruited through local educational institutions, receive a comprehensive training in facilitation, safeguarding children, special needs, etc.

The Mentoring Programme consist of 4 Modules:
Module 1: Body Image and Positive Self Regard
Module 2: Puberty Changes/The Menstrual Cycle
Module 3: Mindset and Emotions
Module 4: Communication

We include fun, interactive games, stories, quizzes, creative activities, demonstrations and discussions. An anonymous question and answer box is a key aspect of every session and have proven to be highly effective in supporting pupils’ needs.

Aims for our primary beneficiaries: girls aged 8-12:
– Strengthen self confidence and resilience (with a focus on Year 6 and 7)
– Offer valuable support and interactive education on crucial issues related to growing up
especially by prioritizing schools in vulnerable areas of Plymouth and the South Hams
– Reduce stress and anxiety for school girls
– Enhance cognitive and psycho-motor development
– Improve learning performance in school

Our primary beneficiaries are girls aged 8-12, however we chose a near-per learning format to support and strengthen the career development and learning journey of young students.

Our aims for students:
– Create local opportunities for young women and female identified students
– Preparation for their future careers: Learn new skills as a mentor, being actively involved facilitating and reflecting the mentoring sessions
– Build confidence and trust in working with young people

With the Pop funding available we’d like to strengthen the support for our young student volunteers, which we value as crucial. Funding will be spent on improving the learning experience during their facilitator training. We also want to allocate mentors to our volunteers that accompany their learning journey and serve as a check-in point during the facilitator training and the delivery of the programme in schools.

How will they work together to achieve this?

We are a interdisciplinary collective of individuals from different areas of expertise that came together with the shared vision to change the story for the next generation. We believe that by working together we can stretch the impact we can have on our beneficiaries in the community, learn from each other, and bring this learning to related projects.

In our team we assemble independent consultants, educators, social workers, marketeers, communicators and networkers, who work on the creation of the Girl Mentoring Programme as well as the exciting challenge on bringing it to the attention of universities, local primary and secondary schools and the wider public.

Our Team:
Hazel from the ‘NestSouthWest CIC’ and Victoria from ‘Nature and Me’: Bring their expertise of working with women and girls, specifically in the areas of menstrual education. They know what it takes to create and facilitate a safe and nurturing space for different age groups.
Friedel: Is the founder of Big Sis CIC, educator, networker and curator. She brings in different elements from her intercultural work in culture, the arts and education projects.
Clare: Looks back on a career of working with people in social work and community projects. She’s an amazing listener and communicator.
Angelika: Is a Plymouth based Marketing ace that makes content look beautiful and approachable. She likes to collaborate with social enterprises.
Harriett: Is a movement psychotherapy student. She brings attention to detail and great question asking. She makes sure that we are never short of inspiration of movement and embodiment approaches in our work.

Some of us have worked together previously in education projects, some collaborations are new and exciting. Each of us brings their own flavor and input to the Programme which makes it a diverse, well communicated group project, that is being looked at from different angles.

During the first round, POP members were asked to advise you. Tell us what happened. What are your reflections? Have you gained new insight? New partners?

The team had some great insight about the possibilities and ways of communication with local schools especially and the internal workings of multi academy trusts and their needs. The advise session helped us to network further in Plymouth, meet some great people working with children and wellbeing and gain some insight who can potentially provide part of our training locally, including LGBTQ+ awareness (by PLYMOUTH PRIDE) and SEND needs, which is really helpful. Diverse verbal and written advise and comments were helpful to not only improve our proposal, but to confirm our aims and the exact experience that we are offering more comprehensively. Altogether it helped us to be really clear about our service offer with all it’s layers.think it’s extremely important to consider the needs of LGBTQ+ folk and people with SEND needs. We could need some advise around how to navigate these questions.