South Ockendon schoolgirls first in country to complete confidence project

CONGRATULATIONS to a group of ground-breaking schoolgirls from Thurrock who are the first in the country to complete a pilot project to boost their confidence.

The 20 pupils from Holy Cross Catholic Primary School in Daiglen Drive, South Ockendon, took part in the Girls Empowerment Club, which is run by the Girls Empowerment Initiative UK, based in Basildon.

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Over the last five months, the girls learned about issues leadership qualities, bullying, how to get help if they or someone they know is in danger, and how to be safe on the internet.

The aim was to build their confidence to help protect them from harm, encourage them to report any concerns and seek support at the earliest opportunity. Detective Inspector Caroline Williams, who is based in our child abuse investigation team, helped put the Girls Empowerment Initiative UK in touch with Holy Cross Primary School.

DI Williams, who helped to present certificates at their recent graduation ceremony, said: “It was a privilege to be invited to the graduation of the Girls Empowerment Club.
“All the girls that took part should be very proud of their achievement.”

Muzvare Hazviperi Betty Makoni, founder and director of Girls Empowerment Initiative UK CIC, said: “We worked closely with Essex Police and if it was not for them, we could not have done this. The pilot project is getting stronger.

“There is good team work amongst the girls and there are positive outcomes for the girls and their families.
“They have been exceptional in their empowerment sessions. Social work is about empowering children and giving them a voice and confidence to achieve good health, education and development.”

Heather Westrop, assistant head teacher for inclusion, at Holy Cross Catholic Primary School, said: “The Girls Empowerment Initiative has seen the group of girls grow in confidence – to speak their thoughts and know that they can run to a variety of professionals rather than from them for help.

“Early intervention and role models are the key to building a better future for all and the project has allowed our girls a voice, where perhaps they weren’t being heard before and to be that voice for others too.
“They have learnt to become history breakers as well as history makers.”

Cllr James Halden, Thurrock Council’s portfolio holder for education and health, said: “It’s great to see our students be part of new initiatives within the borough, especially ones that will teach them crucial life skills that will both keep them safe and help them to achieve their very best in life.

“The council has worked closely with the Girls Empowerment Initiative to identify those who could take part and support the development of this innovative project, and it’s great to see that their work and dedication has led to such a positive outcome.

“Having met with staff from the school it’s clear to see the strong commitment they have to their students and this achievement is a testament to their fantastic work.”

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