In May 2022, 25 young women came along to our Young Women’s Advisory Panel residential weekend.
In this blog, panel newbie Aisling writes about the confidence she found sharing experiences with supportive and inspirational women from all over the country.
When I first heard of the Young Women’s Trust, I had no idea how much I would gain from them! I came across them via an Instagram advert offering their free CV feedback service, which I thought sounded really helpful, and I gave it a go! The feedback I received on my CV was exceptional, so I signed up for the newsletter.
A few weeks later, I got an email mentioning that they were looking for new members for their Advisory Panel, a group of young women who steer and contribute to the charity’s work. They were looking for women who have experience living with low or no pay and are finding it hard to get employment. This sounded so much like my situation in the past and now, unfortunately, in the present. I thought about my experience and decided to give it a go – I didn’t believe it when I got the email saying I’d been chosen and was invited to a residential weekend in May.
Finding connection, support and friendship
When I was younger, I grew up in poverty in quite a privileged area, so had found it very hard to meet other people who had similar experiences to what I had been through. I had always felt isolated from others as I lived in a caravan whilst they were lucky enough to have big warm houses and safety. I was also abused for a decade of my life. Fortunately, I am no longer in those situations; however, the effects still remain. I now suffer from PTSD, which makes it hard for me to get a job due to some employers not being understanding, and I find interviews a trigger. Due to all of this, when I was getting ready for the residential weekend, I had a very mixed range of emotions! I was really nervous about meeting new people and if I would be judged, but then I was also excited to push my comfort zone and campaign for change.
I am so happy and feel so grateful that I got to experience the connection I had been longing for.
Luckily, all of my nerves were squashed as soon as I stepped off the train and met the first group of lovely women who I’d be sharing the taxi with – they were so kind! Over the weekend, I had the chance to talk to and share similar experiences with inspirational women from all over the country. It amazed me that everyone was so supportive – which was something I hadn’t been used to for a long time. I am so happy and feel so grateful that I got to experience the connection I had been longing for since I was little. I made lots of friends over the weekend, which is another excellent aspect as I find that making friends when you’re older is challenging. I’m even arranging to go to the West End with one woman I met there!
When we work together, we can make change
Apart from meeting all the motivating women over the weekend, another highlight was Nadia Whittome, a Labour MP, coming in and speaking to us all about making change for young women all over the country! Nadia was definitely not how I expected an MP to be – she was so friendly and relatable, and it was clear that she truly wants to make a change for people all over the UK! We also had an encouraging intention setting workshop with the lovely Amaarah from the youth organisation 2-3 Degrees. It helped with creating clear goals and intentions from what I want to gain with my time on the panel. This really helped uplift me and made me feel more driven!
I left feeling so confident within myself and like I can take on the world. I had learnt so many things, but most importantly, I learned that I’m not alone.
After finishing the residential, I left feeling so confident within myself and like I can take on the world. I had learnt so many things, but most importantly, I learned that I’m not alone. When people work together, that’s what makes a positive change in the world. The residential weekend inspired me and helped me feel more a part of Young Women’s Trust, and I can’t wait to participate more to help advocate for change.
If I had any advice for other young women looking to get involved with Young Women’s Trust, I would just say do it because you have nothing to lose – only great things to gain!
If you are a young women aged 18 to 30 living in England and Wales with experience of living on low or no pay, you can connect with other people with similar experiences on our Facebook group, The Lounge.