Work Hard

HLN meets… Kari Owers, The Prince’s Trust

We caught up with the North East’s first Women Supporting Women ambassador – and the founder of O.agency – about why it’s now more important than ever to support other women in our community

Written by Rachael Nichol
Published 02.09.2021

Recent research shows that 3.5% of women in the North East are unemployed, and 11.3% are paid less than men. Shocking, right?   

The pandemic has hit thousands of women in our region hard. From losing jobs and pay cuts to catching coronavirus themselves, women right on our doorstep are struggling and worried about what their future holds. 

That’s why Kari Owers jumped at the chance to be involved in The Prince’s Trust’s Women Supporting Women (WSW) project. With the project’s mission to change 6,500 young women’s lives by raising £10 million over five years – and using the funds to nurture, empower and inspire the women to build their own futures through employment or training – the founder of O.agency could see the difference the campaign could make to the way women live their lives right here in the North East. 

Going above and beyond her role, Kari, alongside her team, has done her bit to make a difference by raising thousands of pounds of vital funds to help women achieve their dreams. 

We caught up with the charity trailblazer to find out a little more about how The Prince’s Trust is helping the women most in need on our doorstep, and how we can lend a hand, too. 

Why did you want to get involved with WSW?

In 2020, my business turned 15. We wanted to go back to our roots and what matters to us – making a difference. We decided that we wanted to help young local women who are less fortunate. 

Many of the founding supporters of WSW are business leaders that I admire greatly, but I noticed there wasn’t any representation for this project in the North East. So, I stepped up as an ambassador to raise some vital funds to help make a difference in our community, so local women can get the support they need.

What’s the mission of WSW?

The mission of WSW is simple: to provide the right help to nurture, empower and inspire young women to build their futures through employment, self-employment, education or training. 

The project is made up of leading female founders, entrepreneurs, businesswomen, professionals and philanthropists who believe that all young women deserve the chance to succeed, regardless of their background or circumstances. 

The funds raised help women with anything: from support and mentoring to a place on a programme which will help them work towards securing a job or starting their own enterprise, or even accessing specific financial or practical support to get their lives back on track and support themselves and their family.

What work have you done as a WSW ambassador?

The pandemic struck just weeks after starting and we knew that being involved in the campaign was now more important than ever. It kept us focused on the bigger picture. We held virtual bike rides and runs in our own version of the Palace-to Palace (virtually ‘racing’ from Alnwick Castle to Durham Castle as a team), held Zoom events and held a clothes sale on Depop to raise money to support young women in our region.

My role involves a mix of financial donations, team fundraising and raising awareness of issues that affect our young women. I get involved in events such as International Women’s Day and the Brilliant Breakfast, that go way further than just making noise.

As a successful woman yourself, why is supporting young women so important to you?

Even though I’ve worked hard to create my own opportunities in life, I still know I’m very lucky. I’ve had an education and a support network around me all my life. I employ many young women and feel very strongly that it’s our collective responsibility to help others who are less lucky than us. 

I don’t believe that women are any different to men – people are people, talent is talent. But women often have more complex barriers to overcome, such as gender bias and caring responsibilities. The Prince’s Trust sees fewer young women accessing their services, so anything we can do as a business to create more chances for these young people in our community, we will do.

What’s The Brilliant Breakfast all about?

The Brilliant Breakfast was first started in 2020 during the pandemic – so our grand plans for lots of big breakfast events in venues across the country became more of a giant Zoom breakfast! But we were delighted with the uptake and are really looking forward to 2021 being much bigger and better.

The idea is to simply ask groups of friends, colleagues, businesses and brands to host a Brilliant Breakfast during the week of 11th – 17th October 2021, which will change lives by raising money for young women who need our support, helping them have a more positive future. This could be a group of friends sitting around a kitchen table or a business hosting something in-house/in-store for clients or employees; it can be face to face, virtually, or both. It’s an opportunity to come together and share stories over breakfast.

Why should our readers come along to High Life North’s Brilliant Breakfast event?

We’ve all missed human connection, haven’t we? I’ve really missed meeting new people and having face-to-face conversations last year – Zoom just isn’t the same. So, what better way to begin to reconnect with our local community than to join a Brilliant Breakfast event and meet inspiring women in our region, help make a difference and hear some inspiring stories?

To find out more information about The Prince’s Trust and how you can get involved, visit their website.

If you’re interested in planning your own Brilliant Breakfast event, click here

And keep your eyes peeled over at High Life North to find out when and where we’ll be hosting our very own Brilliant Breakfast in support of The Prince’s Trust

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