A scheme to help and support teenage girls from some of the poorer parts of Brighton and Hove is looking for volunteer mentors.
The Girls’ Network started working with two schools – Hove Park and the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA) – in September.
From the new year pupils in years 10, 11 and 12 at Cardinal Newman Catholic School will also join the scheme.
But while more than 50 girls across the city will benefit from regular one-to-one guidance, more women from professional backgrounds are needed to share their experiences.
Rachel Carter, the charities director in Brighton and Hove, said: “It only takes one evening every three to four weeks for about an hour and a half and a small amount of contact in between.
“The girls are generally from low-income families. They are chosen by the school. The schools identify them as having potential.”
She said that other schools in Brighton and Hove had expressed an interest in the scheme and others along the south coast also wanted to sign up.
The charity was set up on International Women’s Day last year by two London teachers in their twenties – Becca Dean and Charly Young.
They said: “Our mission is to inspire and empower girls from the least advantaged communities by connecting them with a network of positive female role models.
Charly Young said in the Guardian: “When I was teaching in an inner city London school it was palpable to see how limited many girls were in their expectations of themselves.
“It wasn’t that they couldn’t name a job they might do. All the girls could answer that question – I want to be an architect, a dentist, a lawyer.
“What they lacked was a genuine belief that they would, or could, get there.
“This was particularly acute among girls in low-income communities who had few role models in their own networks.”
The charity said: “Ofsted’s 2011 report on girls’ career aspirations found that when girls had conversations with women they could relate to, it had a more profound impact on career choice and self-belief than any careers advice or equal opportunities lesson.
“At the Girls’ Network, we match girls from low-income backgrounds with female mentors.
“More important than how senior or influential the mentors are, is whether they have the time and motivation to share their experiences and advice, successes and failures.
“Mentors are trained to provide mentoring sessions and are then matched with a girl who they will mentor over the period of a year – each meeting lasting between 45 and 90 minutes.
“Dates and locations are flexible where possible, with mentees encouraged to visit workplaces.
Apart from the intrinsic satisfaction of giving help and support, those who become mentors have access to the growing network of professional women who are taking part in the scheme.
Rachel Carter added: “We are also looking for people who want to support the charity. We want to be able to grow and be sustainable.”
That support includes donations and fundraising as the Girls’ Network also holds workshops, provides training for mentors and school staff and runs other events.
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