With International Women’s Day approaching we celebrate 5 inspirational women from a range of different backgrounds and occupations. These women have made a significant impact on their profession, community, family or culture.
CARA BROOKINS – THE WOMAN WHO BUILT HER HOME WITH THE HELP OF YOUTUBE
Credit Ashley Murphy
Cara Brookins determined to give her children the life they deserved. After a long and abusive relationship, she took back control and with their help built a house – a 3500 square feet home for them all with a shop to help generate income and a two-storey tree house thrown in!
“There is nothing more powerful than building your future with your own bare hands.”
Cara and her children are proof that anything is possible with the right mind-set and a lot of hard work.
“Single parenting started out feeling like the loneliest thing I’d ever do. I vacillated from being overwhelmed by how many kid and home tasks I had to juggle alone in one day to the stunned silence of a holiday without them. But everything changed when I decided to take on a massive project with my kids. Not only did we create an incredibly strong family attitude of teamwork, we discovered ways to carry that feeling with us in everything we do—even sharing ideas with the massive community of people struggling through similar healing and rebuilding phases. My kids and I built a house because we thought shelter was the most important thing we needed, but it was the process of building a house together that taught us how a determined family can turn trauma into power and fear into courage, as proof that we can all build ourselves a life without limits.” – CARA BROOKINS
Jennie struggled to find childcare she was happy with for her own children, nothing met the needs or standard of care she expected for her children of different ages. This gave her the idea to do it herself. Jennie opened her first Centre in Cheadle in 2005. Since then the company has gone from strength to strength expanding into Didsbury, Stockport, Macclesfield, and Knutsford. There is also new site on the way in Altrincham.
With Jennie at the helm Kids Allowed look at the big picture of family life. ‘The Easy Life’ service helps relieve some of the associated everyday stresses. Simply put, it’s a parent concierge service – drop-off your dry cleaning, laundry, repairs, letters for posting, and ironing – they get it sorted for you. You can even grab a free tea or coffee to go!
With quality assurance at the heart of everything they do in 2012 Jennie was instrumental with Kids Allowed opening their very own training academy. This facility offers in-sector qualifications for every member of the team.
Kids Allowed also have an award winning apprenticeship scheme for 16-19 year olds. They take on 50 candidates each year. For Jennie who left education at the age of 16 this is an initiative very close to her heart.
In 2016, Jennie was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in recognition for her services to business.
We asked Jennie to offer her own words of wisdom and this is what she said.
“Be brave, be true to your values and beliefs, be yourself and ignore those that say you cant! If I had listened to the people who said “you can’t”, Kids Allowed would not exist! If you feel passionately enough about your ideas, the chances are that when you make it happen, others will feel just as passionate about what you have created. The sky is the limit and you can achieve absolutely anything if you truly believe!”– JENNIE JOHNSON MBE
Mel is the founder of This Mum Runs, a women’s running community providing an alternative option for time-strapped women who are looking for a club that has something more to offer than the traditional running clubs and gyms.
Prior to having children Mel was always passionate about sport, playing hockey, running trail races, doing British Military Fitness, studying sports science and working in the fitness industry. You could say she lived and breathed sport!
Post – kids Mel found it hard to get her fitness mojo back – exercise plans clashed with bedtimes, spinal surgery rehab meant she needed to be more cautious and like a lot of people she was generally feeling exhausted. It is no wonder she was finding it difficult to exercise.
Feeling ready to regain her confidence and importantly her identity, Mel’s life changed the day she posted on a Mum’s Facebook group looking for a running partner and 75 women turned up!
This Mum Runs started in Bristol and has quickly expanded with more than 10,000 women able to access 200 free runs a month from 20 locations across Bristol, Bath and London.
Maria Balshaw has made a huge impact on the cultural offerings of Manchester. Balshaw was joint Director of Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery where she secured the funding which has lead the museum into it’s new future and seen 100% increase in attendee numbers.
She oversaw the £17 million remodeling of the museum which has transformed what was once described as an ‘austere’ building, into a light airy and welcoming Centre of art. Since then the museum has seen a number of recognitions including being awarded Museum of the year in 2015.
With all this under her belt it is no surprise that in 2017 she was announced as the first female Director of the Tate.
Until next month Balshaw remains the Director of Culture for Manchester City Council breathing her life and energy into all of her projects including the Manchester International Festival.
‘Maria is on the side of the artist. She wants things to be different and surprising’- Jeremy Deller
Rt Hon the Baroness Hale of Richmond, DBE, FBA, LLD, FRCPsych
Last but certainly not least in our world of family law.
Lady Hale was appointed President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in September 2017, succeeding Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury.
In January 2004, she became the United Kingdom’s first and only woman Lord of Appeal in Ordinary after a varied career as an academic lawyer, law reformer, and judge. In October 2009, the Law Lords all became Justices of the Supreme Court. She was appointed its Deputy President in 2013, succeeding Lord Hope of Craighead.
After graduating from Cambridge in 1966, she taught law at Manchester University from 1966 to 1984, also qualifying as a barrister and practising for a while at the Manchester Bar. She specialised in Family and Social Welfare law, was founding editor of the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, and authored several books, including a pioneering case book on ‘The Family, Law and Society’.
In 1984 she was the first woman to be appointed to the Law Commission, a statutory body which promotes the reform of the law. Important legislation resulting from the work of her team at the Commission includes the Children Act 1989, the Family Law Act 1996, and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. She also began sitting as a part time judge.
In 1994 she became a High Court judge, the first to have made her name as an academic and public servant rather than a practising barrister. In 1999 she was the second woman to be promoted to the Court of Appeal, before becoming the first woman Law Lord.
She retains her links with the academic world as Visitor of Girton College, Cambridge, and a Visiting Professor of Kings College London. She was Chancellor of the University of Bristol from 2004 to 2016. She was Treasurer of Gray’s Inn in 2017.
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