Teenage girls in Liverpool are starring in a documentary showing in schools across the city. Entitled Miss Independent, the film tracks the progress of seven girls as they embark on an eight week training programme to help turn their lives around.
The programme is spearheaded by Mode Training whose managing director Debbie Tagoe commissioned the video encouraging young girls from deprived backgrounds to follow their dreams. Mode devised the Miss Independent programme following a 2016 report that concluded Knowsley and Liverpool ranked as among the worst places in the country to grow up as a girl. Debbie says:
‘Last year’s report documented that girls don’t have equal rights and life chances. We’ve developed a programme for local teenage girls and those in their early twenties who are worse affected. Miss Independent training gives them the confidence and support to achieve their potential whatever their background. We decided to document the participants’ progress on film to amplify the message that with the right help and support dreams can become reality.’
During the one-day-a-week training programme, the girls participated in confidence boosting exercises. These ranged from canoeing to visiting the workplaces of other women who have successful careers despite challenges in early life.
The film contains some moving scenes. Aliya, aged 22 from Wavertree speaks about how she was juggling two children under the age of two, dealing with her Dad’s death and brother’s illness whilst her mum battled schizophrenia. The course has helped her face up to her own depression and challenges. She says:
‘I have massive trust issues that undermine my confidence. But I have learnt to say no to being judged on my background or history. All that has happened in my past will only stop me reaching my full potential if I let it. I’m not going to do that.’
The film was directed by film maker Peter Sinseeya who is based in Bold Street in Liverpool. It was funded by Talent Match innovation fund. Course leader Kelly Clark adds:
‘The journey these teenagers and young ladies have been on is amazing. Each one of them has now taken a step towards their dream career. They are all signed up to training or apprenticeships and will be future DJs, event managers or football coaches!’
The twenty minute film was premiered at Mode’s offices at the end of May, followed by a ceremony where the girls received their certificates for completing the course.
From September onwards, a roadshow is planned around schools in deprived areas of Liverpool and Knowsley. The film will be shown and the course graduates will talk about their experiences to school girls aged 14-16 who may be facing similar challenges.
The training tackles the issues raised in the 2016 Plan International report that cites domestic violence, teenage pregnancy and coming from a workless household as among the factors holding girls back in progressing their own life chances. The Miss Independent course aims to remove those identified barriers and kick start the process of getting young girls’ lives back on track.
Further Miss Independent courses will run throughout the year. Successful applicants must have been unemployed for 12 months or longer and aged between 18 and 24 years old.
Back row left to right: Lois Brown Talent Match Mentor, Tara Bray Participant, Chloe Johnson Participant, Aliya Ahmed Participant, Peter Sinseeya Sinseeya Films, Jimmy Crewe Talent Match Co Ordinator
Front row: Kelly Clark Mode PSD tutor, Brittany Aytoun Participant