Supporting young people through Star People
21st Century Female: Corina Best's social enterprise
By Adam Dixon, communications assistant at UnLtd
Many Big Local areas have identified activities for young people as a priority in their plans. This is the story of how one social entrepreneur is supporting young women through the Star People programme, run as a part of Big Local.
Over the past two-and-a-half years Corina Best has been running 21st Century Female (21CF), which she describes as a ‘social movement’ that uses creativity to bring together females and give them the tools to design successful and fulfilled lives.
Her programmes aim to tackle the issues of self-esteem and confidence experienced by young women in Borehamwood including in the Leecliffe (Leeming and Aycliffe) Big Local area. She runs sessions with young women to instil a strong sense of self, build skills and give them a voice on the issues they care about.
- 'Vivid Teen' sessions for 11 to 16 year olds focus on dance, fitness and awareness of natural style and beauty, helping them to build their self-esteem and body confidence and make friends. Watch video of Corina's sessions with teens.
- 'Vivid 21' sessions for 16 to 24 year olds blend life skills with mentoring and personal development. The programme includes focus on topics relevant to the women, asking them to research, produce events and campaigns, and take part in creative artistic workshops. It aims to give the women creative outlets, such as spoken word and poetry, through which they can channel their emotions on issues that affect them and 'speak on them'.
'It's really about building a community. It's about bringing together young females, who may have come from different backgrounds, and helping them to create their own safe space and a happy environment where they can grow.'
One of the young women who was part of the programme, Taslima, speaks highly about the effect it has on her life:
‘At the age of 17 I moved into a hostel due to an abusive family home. Moving out- what a shock to my system. 21CF gave me a positive outlet to stay focused on my goals to be in a better place. In September, I am going be studying at Nottingham Trent University doing Business Management & Marketing. Having the support and guidance of the people at 21CF has allowed me to pursue my dreams and not go through the stereotypical hostel life with no aspirations.'
'I really believe this programme has so much potential and can change the lives of many women. It has for me anyway. If I didn't have that outlet then I wouldn't be where I am now.’
Corina first thought of doing something about helping young females around six years ago but struggled to find the right route to get going.
'I wanted to empower young females but I wasn't sure how. Lots of trial and error led me to create these two programmes. It finally 'felt' like the right idea. After several years trying to find the right avenue, it suddenly snowballed.'
Social entrepreneurship enabled the breakthrough.
'Being an entrepreneur allows me to stay true to my purpose for doing this work. I choose my own targets and work in partnership with others whose ethos matches my own. It allows me to deliver the work I want to, rather than being controlled by the criteria of funding bodies.'
It allows her to design her programmes to suit the people she's working with, to listen to the women and create sessions that really engage with their interests.
'I think what we do works because we genuinely care about every individual, we create programmes that are relatable to them. For example the section we do on hair, beauty and fashion is really important. It focuses on real, natural beauty: things like your body structure and how to dress well. It helps the women recognise their unique attributes and gain confidence in themselves.'
Corina received support to set up as a social entrepreneur from UnLtd, who run the Star People programme in Big Local areas.
‘The funding UnLtd gave me helped cashflow, but more importantly they helped set me up with a business mentor. She really helped get me to get on track.’
Talking to Corina it's clear that her passion is finding a way to give the young females she works with the confidence to be themselves and reach for their dreams.
'The best part of what I do is seeing the girls achieve. They often come into the session with low self-esteem and confidence, and then they go on their journey - they realise that they are somebody, that they have something of value to offer to the world, and that they can achieve what they want to.'
Corina has been supported to develop 21st Century Female through the Star People programme, delivered by UnLtd on behalf of Local Trust.
Star People gives cash awards and support to people who want to try out, develop or grow an entrepreneurial solution to a social issue in their Big Local area.
UnLtd focus on people first, working to help them develop the skills they need to make a positive impact locally.