Girls Allowed – I Define Me

This project was funded by Comic Relief via the Tampon Tax Fund between 2017 and 2020. Continued funding secured from Comic Relief and KFC Foundation until December 2021.

What is it and who is it for?

The funding was originally allocated to work with girls who may be on the periphery of gangs or be gang involved, however with the permission of Comic Relief we took the opportunity to widen the scope of the programme.  We worked with girls who would benefit from developing life skills, improve decision making and widen the scope of their ambitions.

I define me – a learning resource video developed from work with a community organisation’s girls group

What we did

Over a three year period we worked with 72 girls, 14 from a community organisation’s girls’ group aged 8 to 13 years and 58 in secondary schools across Wolverhampton (aged 13 to 15 years). The programmes delivered over this period of time had at the core, elements of our Safe Hands programme which was augmented to take account of specific issues raised in the different settings and locations as well as those raised by the girls.

The girls selected to participate in the programmes over this period where chosen on the basis of securing greatest benefit from their participation. We worked with very high achieving girls, girls who needed support to build their confidence, girls with special needs deemed to be extra vulnerable, girls in the care of the local authority, fostered and adopted.  A full cross section of girls.

The programme with the younger girls used a range of creative and fun techniques including crafting, games, videos and physical activities to engage and explore issues around their personal safety, gender stereotypes, relationships, ambitions and decision making.  Please see the learning resource video.

For the Girls Allowed programmes delivered in secondary schools we used a range of creative and interactive techniques, i.e. games, short animated videos, quizzes, debate and discussion to unpack issues relevant to the girls such as choices and the consequences of choices, risky behaviours and situations, relationships, self-esteem and self-confidence, mental health, gender and sexuality, role models, body confidence, gender stereotypes, ambitions, aspirations, social media, and the value of networks and networking etc.

All the girls were provided with a journal which they kept private unless they chose to share entries with us for group or 1-2-1 discussions.  The entries took many forms e.g. drawing, prose, poetry collage, photos etc. Some of the parents also made entries in their daughters’ journals which provided additional insight for us. The journals were issued for a range of purposes which included:- a tool for self-reflection, to be used as an ad memoir, to capture their thoughts and feeling as well as to encourage journaling as a potential life-long skill.

Low self-esteem was a significant issue for a majority of the girls and often impacted many of the other areas we explored with them e.g. relationships and ambitions.  We built additional elements into the programme to ensure we could help improve the girls self-esteem so that it did not impact as negatively on them as it may have if they had not participated in the programme. At the beginning and end of each programme we undertake monitoring with the girls to measure the impact of the activities and for each programme it was evident that the girls had made positive improvements in how they felt about their self-esteem. At the end of the programme the girls also make a pledge to themselves, as a direct result of the programme, that demonstrates a shift in their thinking and perspective i.e. “I pledge to always try to boost my self-esteem and to try to think positive every day.”

This programme was part of an international partnership and at the Wolverhampton level was administered by the Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council. Square Pegs Round Holes, alongside others from the partnership, visited projects in Colombia as part of the learning associated with this work. 

The Girls Allowed programme was carried out in partnership with Hope Community Project; Heath Park School ; Wednesfield High Specialist Engineering Academy; Colton Hills Community School; Kings CE School