Two days on and I still can’t wipe the smile off my face after this incredibly empowering charity event. My good friend Claire Kendrick, a hairdresser I met two years ago at another charity fashion show, decided only a few months back to run the first ever GirlLYF charity event for MIND and REFUGE. And Boom! Did this incredible woman deliver or what?! I am so proud of this lady.
Let me tell you a little bit more about GirlLYF who are supporting the charities MIND and REFUGE. When GirlLYF was formed only a few months ago, (a place where women can talk freely in a safe environment and bear their souls without being judged), the response was overwhelming. It swiftly became apparent that many of these women had been struggling in silence with mental health issuers and/or experiences of abuse. These issues and experiences of hardship had touched these women at some point in their lives but being able to open up in a safe haven it became clear that by supporting one another, empowerment worked wonders. GirlLYF decided to make it their mission to pull together and raise money for charities close to their hearts as well as breaking the stigmas associated with mental health issues and domestic violence. Together these incredible ladies are already making a difference. Together they are so much stronger and so much more powerful. Within intentions to reach out to those that are still struggling behind closed doors.
As soon as I arrived at the Titanic Hotel with my Son Fin by my side (who I can’t thank enough for putting up with so many beautiful ladies and only a few men in one room), it was clear the atmosphere was relaxed, uplifting and empowering. Beautiful, authentic women, young and old, from different cultural backgrounds, in different shapes and sizes, skin tones and with different life experiences, all there with the same goal in mind. To empower one another. To give each other a confidence boost. To celebrate we are all beautiful. To break that stigma for those suffering mental health problems or abuse in silence. To reach out to those feeling isolated with their personal struggles.
Next stop, hair and make-up. I must give a huge thank you to the make-up artists and hair stylists, who gave up their free time to make us all look glamorous and wonderful. Professional, friendly and lovely women all of them. We were supplied with beautiful outfits by fashion designers Taya Mahachi and Sidnie Couture. Alongside Hat designer Janice Charles, jewellery designer Judith Jones and bags were supplied by Anna Barrett Lawrence. Everyone looked fabulous in the designers’ creations. Keeping in mind most of the ladies walking for these designers had never before been on a cat walk. However with team work from the make-up artists, hair stylists and designers, and above all supporting and encouraging one another, each and every one of these women shone on the run way.
The show was opened with a bang from an incredible dance act from the Manchester based African Carnival Dancers. This incredible group of dancers of all ages was formed in January by two beautiful, determined young ladies. I wouldn’t be surprised if they will soon make an appearance on Britain Got Talent! There was also a performance from the SingMe Merseyside Choir, sending chills down my spine. An amazing performance from singer Misha B. The girl got everyone up dancing and singing along in no time. Can I just point out what a lovely humble young lady Misha is. She chatted with everyone backstage offering words of support and laughter. We were even spoilt with an act from a group of volunteers ‘Hunks in Trunks’. No need to tell you how delighted all the ladies in the room where!
I spoke to so many coming off the run way saying: “I can’t believe I just did that”. “It was liberating”. “For once in my life I felt beautiful and confident”. “Without this opportunity and the love of these women I would never have done it”. How lovely and empowering is that? How much is this needed in today’s society where glossy magazine images are that highly edited and body shapes are digitally reshaped? Where we are made to feel we are not good enough if we can’t live up to those expectations. I did see tears that day. Tears of joy, of pride of the emotion of feeling you are not on your own. I also saw a lot of hugs, high fives and heard so many cheers, heartfelt compliments and words of encouragement. Again, how beautiful and empowering is that!
I was given the opportunity to introduce everyone to EssyEntials. I can’t put into words how stressful public speaking is for me. I am comfortable in small groups but standing on a stage, with a mic. in a room full of people still petrifies me. Thank you Claire Kendrick for your support, who was by my side the whole time. (You see again how powerful the support of a likeminded, kind and supportive female friend can be.) To be honest, I still am not sure what I said, but it did remind me of doing my first ever cat walk just over two years ago. I started with trembling knees and a mouth as dry as cotton, but as soon as I started it wasn’t too bad at all. These days I just get an adrenaline rush before going up on the run way. I hope when talking about my journey and my plans to start workshops for women came across well. I did ask my son after wards how it went. The cutie said: “I was very proud of you but very tempted to shout out loud ‘That’s enough now Mum , can we go home’!
I’d like to thank all the brave women involved. What an amazing team brought together in one place. An event that for sure has touched many. Giving the knowledge they are not on their own. Giving confidence knowing they are good enough and beautiful. I would also like to thank my dear photographer friend Glyn Kelly who photographed and filmed this event. Without each and every one there and showing love and support this event would never have happened nor been such an overwhelming success on so many levels.
I’ve already heard through the grapevine the GirlLYF Charity Show will be repeated. I shall keep you all posted as it would be lovely to see lots more of you there helping empower one another and basically having a fabulous time, raising awareness for MIND and REFUGE in the process. Any of you reading this and feeling the need to have a little chat about your own personal struggles please don’t be a stranger and contact either Claire Kendrick or myself. We will help point you in the right direction for help and support. You are definitely not on your own and that there are always better days to come. Better days like this fabulous empowering Charity event. See you all there at next one!