Iqra who took part in our first Young Women’s WeGrow programme in Manchester in 2018 has been recognised for her continued hard work.

Iqra was shortlisted in the ‘Most Promising Young Person in Manchester (Rising Star Award)’ in the Manchester Young Talent Awards from JCI Manchester. On Saturday night at the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel, Manchester Iqra was named as the WINNER!!

In a category that was full of amazing and inspiring young people Iqra inspired the judges with her bravery and they thought she showed phenomenal growth.

Iqra’s incredible story started when she left care. The aspirational teen was in desperate need to kick start her life. Suffering from mental health issues and feeling increasingly isolated living on her own, she decided to take a chance by joining our WeGrow programme.

She said: “For the past 2 years I’d been suffering with my mental health, but that didn’t stop me from trying to do my best at my school qualifications. I hit a real low during Christmas last year (2017), and found myself often alone in my flat, with no friends or family. I was told about the WeGrow programme by my Leaving Care PA who thought it would be ideal for me. I wasn’t so sure.”

WeGrow is a 12 months life-changing programme for 18+ year olds including six-months’ paid employment, work placements, coaching and mentoring sessions, activity days and experiences. Working closely with our Manchester Employer Partners and Manchester City Council, Iqra and her fellow gappies experienced a range of environments, industries and skill sets, all geared towards helping them gain skills and experience for full time employment and reach their potential.

Taken out of her comfort zone, Iqra initially struggled to get used to the course. For someone who had never left Manchester prior to joining the programme Iqra was now going to London and Wales for the very first time, engaging in a variety of confidence building activities.

“The first few weeks were hard, I was away from home for two nights at residentials and a further three nights for Outward Bound (training programme) in Wales.  We really had to step out of our comfort zones, it was cold and wet, but I did everything I could. I jumped off the jetty, I walked up the mountain.”

The programme has enabled Iqra to have new and exciting experiences that opened her up to a world of possibilities. The work placements helped to give her a sense of independence as it gave her a reason to get out of her house where she soon realised she wanted to see more of the world.

“I liked the days when we went somewhere new and did something different. We got to go to a museum, learned to ski, started to create a garden and started an art project. I began to realise I didn’t have to stay in Manchester forever, even though I had not been anywhere else”.

Iqra has achieved so much on the programme and has gone on to incredible things including joining Raleigh International Trust on an expedition to support women with sustainable sanitary provisions, living independently, securing a Support Care Worker Apprenticeship and being offered a place at university.

WeMindTheGap is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, has already achieved success in different locations around the North West and North Wales.

The National Lottery Community Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Supporting projects focusing on children and young people across the UK.

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