An aspiring fashion designer from Bedworth, Warwickshire who has overcome challenging circumstances including a period of homelessness, has delivered a speech in the House of Commons on the importance of role models and mentoring for young women.
Charlotte Gibson, 19, spoke to members of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Women and Enterprise, which champions female entrepreneurs. The group heard about the challenges Charlotte has faced and the support she has received since joining Lloyds Banking Group’s Women in the Real Economy mentoring scheme.
The support came after a family breakdown left Charlotte without a home. However, the homeless charity, Doorway, was able to help Charlotte with accommodation and identify how to get her life back on track, including recommending her for the Lloyds scheme.
The mentoring programme, which is part of Lloyds Banking Group’s Helping Britain Prosper plan, helps connect ambitious young women like Charlotte with influential female leaders from the Bank and Westminster politicians – helping them to develop their skills, abilities and confidence and achieve their full potential.
The Coventry College student was paired with her local MP Craig Tracey and Lloyds Banking Group’s Annie Hind. Regular mentoring sessions helped identify ways to support Charlotte, including practical help to connect her to useful networks. With support from Craig, Charlotte has secured an internship with local fashion designer Kashane Swaby, as well as £750 of funding from the Nicholas Chamberlain Foundation.
Charlotte said: “When you are homeless, things can go one of two ways – you spiral out of control or get help. I decided to reach out to organisations around me and luckily got the help I needed. It’s given me opportunities I would have never thought imaginable at the time.
“Working with Craig and Annie has been fantastic. They have helped me to boost my confidence and improve my face-to-face communication skills. It was an honour to share my experiences with the Women and Enterprise APPG and highlight the importance of having inspirational role models as well as explaining the difference they can make.”
Annie Hind, Director, Commercial and Business Banking Transformation at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Earning such success and recognition after everything Charlotte has been through is testament to her talent and determination to succeed. She gave a fantastic account of herself and I’m sure she will continue to enjoy great success. It has been a privilege to be on that journey with her. “
Craig Tracey, MP for North Warwickshire and Bedworth, added: “I’ve been so impressed by Charlotte’s ambition and willingness to learn. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with her and I have very much enjoyed being her mentor. She is a really inspirational young woman and I’m looking forward to seeing her confidence continue to grow and her career as fashion designer flourish.”