Case study: Tisha
Before taking part in EmpowHER, Tisha had finished sixth form and her seasonal contract in retail had recently ended. She felt at a loss and without direction, and she was in a crucial place with her anxiety levels, which were having a damaging effect on her life. Tisha enjoyed being creative but felt that there was a lack of creative opportunities in her area.
During EmpowHER Tisha attended weekly sessions with the other young women in her group, and she described it as her ‘safe haven’, which offered a unique opportunity to discuss issues and share personal stories. She explained, “It was a space we could just come and be ourselves, share our experiences and support each other”.
Tisha also participated in youth-led social action projects during EmpowHER, including running a workshop at a local school for a group of younger girls also taking part in the programme, and leading a group of young volunteers at a Refugee Week event. Her youth worker saw a huge change in her ability to manage her mental health, saying, “She is previously someone who would get quite erratic panic attacks in large groups of people or when public speaking. The immense step that she has taken to lead a whole group of young people; doing it with confidence, controlling her emotions and prioritising others needs over her own, is amazing”.
Tisha’s group also produced a campaign to challenge stereotypes of young Asian woman in Britain, which included writing articles and organising a photoshoot with a local young Asian entrepreneur. Tisha was involved in generating ideas and creating mood boards, which gave her an opportunity to express her creativity. She thought it was a valuable experience that let each member of the group shine in their own tasks, whilst collaborating to create something they were proud of.
Tisha believes that taking part in EmpowHER equipped her with new skills in organisation, team-working and leadership. When speaking about her social action projects she said, “I never really thought it was something I’d be able to do, but I was. I found it really fulfilling and I got to be a part of something bigger than myself”.
An EmpowHER graduate, Tisha has continued to take part in social action projects, including leading a group of young people through a city-wide loneliness consultation. Her attitude during these projects has been of such a high standard that she has secured a position as a staff member at her youth organisation. She has also found a new interest in sports activities, which is a considerable change for her.
Tisha thinks that a programme like EmpowHER is important because it shows young women and girls that they’re not second best. “If there had been EmpowHER when I was 10 or 11 I would be more confident, and I’d feel like my aspirations weren’t unachievable. I think my future has changed because my mindset has changed. It’s proved to me that I have the power to make a difference.”