A charity that connects positive female role models with teenage girls from deprived backgrounds has launched in Portsmouth.
The Girls Network, which began in London on International Women’s Day in 2013, links school girls in Year 10 and 11 with professional women who will act as their mentor for a year.
The charity’s co-founders, Becca Dean and Charly Young, came up with the idea while teaching at a deprived school in north-west London.
Her mother and Portsmouth director for the charity Rosie Dean is hoping the launch will see the initiative expand further along the coast.
The network has already selected 60 girls who will be mentored from September.
Rosie said: ‘The response from the girls has been fantastic and they’re looking forward to meeting their mentors. The point of it all is to give those who are from deprived areas and homes a fighting chance at a career.
‘A lot of the girls are from single-parent families where mums work long hours to support them, or small households, and don’t have the facilities that people from a middle class environment have access to.
‘These girls need to be exposed to female role models that can provide guidance and help.’
The charity also provides other support for the girls, including confidence building, work experience visits and CV advice.
They are now looking for local businesses to sponsor the cause, as well as recruiting mentors in the area with training sessions being held over the summer.
Jackie Rainford, a self-employed training consultant and coach, recently joined the Portsmouth network.
She said: ‘I know a lot of business women and everyone I’ve spoken to about it have jumped at the chance to get involved.
‘All the girls need is to hear someone tell them, go on, give it a go.’