On the 6th March 2021, The Washington Group, Community Interest Company, held the 1st Virtual International Women’s Day Festival, on the Fylde Coast.

85 people attended the virtual Festival with 70 young women from High schools and youth and community groups. The Festival was opened by Dame Julia Cleverdon with a warm up from Fylde Little voices.

This year the Festival continued with the five themed areas, each providing interactive workshops and activities delivered by local, regional and national businesses and organisations including:

Vitrex

ICG Brand Builder

Hero Lifestyle

Sarah Harris Style Consultancy

Aikido Shobukai

Debs Bradders

National Youth Agency

GLC Resilience Coaching

Lady Kat Smith Dance

Amy Cross

Innovateher

Each workshop enabled the young women to try out new experiences, have their voices heard and helped to develop their skills and give them information on careers and personal goals. 

The Festival was funded by The Rank Foundation, CVS Covid funding with support from the Mina Group, Blackpool Transport and Adcoft Hilton

Each young woman was given an interactive individual mission bag with missions to complete before, during and after the IWD2021 Festival. The young women completed an online padlet to highlight the best things about living on the Fylde Coast and thoughts on how it could be improved . This will now link into the consultation to develop a Fylde Coast 5 year strategy for young women,

The Festival included the inspirational speaker Ruth E Cockburn who provided the Festival with an empowering speech to explore the notion of apologising and for  women to believe in oneself and be comfortable with who you are. The event even included guest appearances from two fabulous goats from Cronkshaw Farm, co delivering the media workshop with ICG Brandbuilders.

Julie Hackett, Senior Account Manager at ICG Strategic Marketing Agency which delivered two workshops on careers in marketing, said the festival was a great success!

“Myself and my colleague, Paula, enjoyed speaking to girls from across the Fylde, sharing our experiences and insights. 

“We explained how marketing works, highlighted some interesting case studies from the Kardashians to KFC and even invited a goat into our Zoom room. 

“We also talked about the different skills sets required – people who love news and storytelling, those who create brilliant visuals and the tech roles that make it happen in the digital space.

“Happy International Women’s Day to everyone – we hope it gives young women the confidence to do the things they love and enjoy.”

The Festival included a Role model panel with Jane Cole as Chair, asking questions from the young women to Seema Dalvi, Shelly Woods, Jill Gray, Carolyn Mercer and Chrissy Grifin.

Dr Nicola Robinson , with her  2 week old daughter Mabel, delivered a goal setting session exploring the belief in your Northern star and setting aspiration goals and plans for the next 5 years.

What difference will it make to Young Women?

The International Women’s Day Festival has always supported the development of female social mobility and social action, by enabling young women, to have relaxed conversations, with role models and businesses across the sector and engaging in small interactive workshops that will stretch their learning and personal development. This year the Festival aimed to develop a 5 year strategy for young women.

Co-organiser Sue Littlefair, Director of The Washington Group, says:

“ IWD2021 was a fantastic opportunity for young women cross the Fylde coast to learn new skills, have some fun away from the impact of COVID19 and more importantly to be given the platform to speak out, speak up and have their voices heard. “

This year we are planning to work alongside young women to co create a 5 year strategy that is developed by young women and led by young women. We have already spoken to the Responsible Business Network to engage young women in plans as well as offer feedback to the Blackpool Council consultation of how the recent investment could be spent.”

The theme for 2021 International Women’s Day event is #choosetochallenge.

The Washington group asked everyone to make the pose and challenge gender bias, stereotypes and take action for equality.

Next year The Washington Group hope to back at Blackpool 6th Form for the 2022 International Women Day Festival. Watch this space!