Improving wellbeing and mental health

Raised £18,948 from 110 supporters
+£2,500 +Extra funding from Crowdfund Sovereign

Led by powerful statistics, a team in Plymouth set out to reach two thousand and twenty young girls in an effort to improve mental health and wellbeing in the South West.

Research has found that girls are three times more likely to suffer from depression than boys. Understanding that many of the problems impacting teenage girls have their roots in the transition from childhood, Big Sis CIC, a newly founded social enterprise in Devon, began a mental health mentoring program.

Through the program, the team trained female students studying education to provide mentoring and support to young girls. They soon witnessed firsthand the positive impact emotional literacy and menstrual education had on self-confidence, emotional awareness, body knowledge, and body image. This inspired Big Sis to expand their program and reach two thousand and twenty young girls in Plymouth & South Hams.

After winning the Crowdfunder supported Plymouth Startup Weekend in November 2019, they set up a crowdfunding campaign with an aim to raise £15,000.

This funding would allow them to run their 2020 Plymouth Pilot Project, train 300 student volunteers to deliver sessions in primary and secondary schools, and create local opportunities for young women studying education.

Big Sis Founder, Friedel Fink, told us, “Being a new organisation, we felt that by crowdfunding we would have better chances to fund our project than going for ‘more formal’ ways of funding. As a community based organisation, we had a lot of demand to do our work around body and emotional literacy, so we had a lot of support from our community already.”

With the impacts of the coronavirus crisis being felt all over the UK, Friedel knew that the Big Sis Mentoring Program would be vital in helping young girls through their increased stress and anxiety.

She said, “The long duration of the campaign running throughout the lockdown gave us the opportunity to identify the needs of our community and come up with new ways of working (online offerings) to reach people, despite not being able to do in person events. It taught us that there’s always something we can do and to keep a fresh mind.”

A helping hand from the Sovereign Pay It Forward Fund

The campaign went on to raise £18,948 from 110 supporters, including pledges from four of Crowdfunder’s funding partners. £5,000 came from the Back Her Business programme, £500 from the iMayflower initiative, £7,500 from Plymouth City Council and £2,500 from the Crowdfund Sovereign Pay It Forward Fund.

Through their fund, Sovereign Housing is supporting projects tackling the impact of COVID-19 as part of their mission to develop thriving and resilient communities. Michelle Smith, Head of Communities for Sovereign, explained, “Sovereign wanted to extend the reach of the funding streams that communities can access. The variety and creativity of the project ideas we saw straight away has been
phenomenal. In particular we appreciate that a key element of crowdfunding is the support required from the community and it is, of course, the community who knows best what they want in their area.”

Friedel said, “The Sovereign Fund offered us a chance to host some youth webinars in the context of the community building work they are doing in their communities. We are excited about this collaboration. Their pledge enables us to provide training for some of our volunteers, so they can learn new skills as a mentor and develop confidence and trust in working with young people.”

The impact of crowdfunding

Along with securing vital funding, crowdfunding allowed Big Sis CIC to develop connections with individuals, parents, potential volunteers, and community organisations.

“Crowdfunding has helped us to make our Mentoring Program possible, create jobs, and reach more people in the community. It has built our community of supporters and raised awareness of the importance of our work, which is always a step forward.”

Before she left, Friedel left us with her top tips for others out there thinking about using the power of the crowd to raise funds and build their community.

• “Get a passionate, well sized team together to support each other – don’t do it
alone or burn yourself out!”
• “Bring your message out to the right people that sympathise with your mission
instead of lots and lots of random people.”
• “Be determined! We have successfully funded our project in times of a global pandemic. Many times we wanted to give up, believing that it was impossible to raise funds at this time. Our example proves different.”

This project also received +Extra funding from the following partners;

+£7,500 +Extra funding from Plymouth City Council
+£5,000 +Extra funding from NatWest Back Her Business
+£500 +Extra funding from iMayflower