In case you have not heard about them before, The Girls Network are a team of volunteer professional female role models, working together to inspire and empower girls in the city from the least advantaged communities by mentoring them.
Their story started in North West London in 2013 by two secondary school teachers, Charly and Becca, when they noticed the multiple barriers facing girls in their classrooms. They decided to help the girls to overcome these barriers by mentoring and developing personal relationship with them. They now operate across London and the South Coast, working with more than 1,000 girls each year.
There are approximately 200 volunteers in Portsmouth and surrounding area who mentor 160 girls in 10 schools from Southsea to Fareham and over the last 3 years they have mentored 100s more. These ladies divide their time over a 12 month period into 1 hour slots with their mentee and focus on skills that would help the mentee’s future life. Skills include CV writing, risk taking, positive failure, interview preparation and many more. They also go out of their way and help the girls find clubs like cadets, invite them to their jobs and help them to experience different work places.
It takes much more to unlock the girls’ potential but these volunteers work hard to prepare their mentees for the life after school, to close the gender division, to build up confidence and resilience and to champion them to success. They come from very diverse backgrounds like their mentees.
As a result, the personal impact on their mentees in Portsmouth is massive. Their statistics show that only 33% of teenage girls spoken to in 2014 (before they start to operate in Portsmouth) felt positive about themselves and their future and at age 16 only 50% of girls from the poorest homes were achieving a GCSE higher than a D grade. More recent information showS 100% of girls meeting their target grades with 86% exceeding them. 86% of the girls reported an increase in confidence and resilience by 50%. What a success!
And the hard work of this team of volunteer mentors has not gone unnoticed. Their latest achievement is winning the Portsmouth Inspiring Volunteer Award 2017 in Education and Mentoring Team category (supported by Irwin Mitchell Solicitors).
So what does the role of a Girls Network mentor involve?
- A three hour training session to gain all the knowledge to become a successful mentor.
- After becoming a mentor, you meet with your mentee once a month over a 12 month period, also spending some time designing bespoke mentoring sessions for your mentee.
- Although not compulsory, most mentors also organise work experience for their mentees.
The Girls Network is always looking for more volunteer mentors, especially with the new school year starting in September 2017. You can apply to become a mentor Portsmouth Together Website at the following link https://volunteer.hiveportsmouth.com/opportunities/mentor-6572