Recently TechPixies founder, Joy Foster, was invited to speak at a ladies lunch benefiting the charity Children Today which was held at the Chester Grosvenor Hotel. It turns out, the lunch was the inaugural event – and equally for Joy, it was her very first keynote speaking engagement. It was an easy event to say yes to because at the heart of both Children Today and TechPixies is a desire to improve lives.
TechPixies helps improve women’s lives by upskilling with modern technology in order to return to work, change careers or start their own business. We teach online courses in Social Media, Digital Marketing, SEO and WordPress to name a few.
Children Today help improve the lives of children by providing grants to families of children with disabilities so that they can purchase specialised equipment which improves the lives of children.
We know women and children are inextricably linked and not just biologically. Many women are mothers and every woman is someone’s daughter.
One truth that is rarely spoken is that when children thrive, mothers thrive and equally when mothers thrive their children thrive.
In reading through the testimonials on the Children Today website, it was clear to me that along with TechPixies, improving the lives of children and women in our respective programmes boils down to three things:
1. Tackling isolation
2. Encouraging self-sufficiency
3. Increasing confidence and happiness
Let’s talk about isolation, this is really important. When I lived in Switzerland, I met another expat who had spent 6 months completely on her own, hidden away in an apartment without a network or connections. She is not alone, so many women, when they become mothers, live in isolation. Particularly when their children go back to school and they haven’t sorted out what they are going to do with themselves when that happens.
When it comes to self-sufficiency, we can’t deny that so many women in this country are not self-sufficient financially. For generations, we have depending on husbands providing – and husbands have felt forced to provide, because society didn’t allow any alternatives.
Recently, I was lucky enough to spend the day at Royal Ascot (my first time ever!). I spent some time with a woman whose niece, Eve Johnson Houghton, had the day before, won a race as a trainer. In the horse world, there are not a lot of female trainers so her story was in the paper. What I found fascinating was that her grandmother had trained a horse who had won 6 decades earlier – but her grandmother wasn’t allowed to take the victory as in those days women weren’t allowed to have trainer licenses. That story seems amazing to me. Can you believe it?
We are living in an unprecedented time – where women can, and should, be self-sufficient financially. In no other time period, can a woman set out to accomplish her dreams like she can now.
We are all aware of the Gender Pay gap. There are two parts of the story to the gender pay gap, the first is that companies aren’t valuing women but the second, and less known part, is that women aren’t valuing themselves enough when they are going for jobs in the first place. They aren’t asking for what they are worth. And I can tell you, after working with 115 women, they are worth a lot. Women are worth a lot. We are amazing and we need to acknowledge it. I’m proud to say that 64% of women who complete our programme value their financial worth more than when they signed up.
Another great statistic that we have is that 95% of the women who complete our course leave more confident with their digital skillset than when they started. This is great, but also what you might expect. What we didn’t expect was that 79% of the women who complete our course reported that they were happier!
At TechPixies, we don’t just care that a woman learns a new skill, we care about the whole wellbeing of the woman which is why we have a Life Coaching Toolkit as part of our programme. We help women think through where they are now, where they want to be and how they are going to get there.
In our life coaching toolkit, which is free on our website, we teach something called SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, accountable, resonant, thrilling. So for example, if your SMART goal was to run a 5k, that is very specific and measurable. You would want to tell someone else about it, someone who can hold you accountable. Then it has to mean something to you, and it has to excite you. When all of these things come together, you will complete the goal.
One of the women in our programme really hated the SMART goals session. She sent me an email after the session and she said to me, ‘Joy I really really hated that session’. It forced her to think about where she was, where she wanted to be and how she was going to get there. But because of that session, she then applied for a big job at Fast Track, working for Richard Branson – and – after 18 years out of the workforce returned to work at a very well known and respected company (for a pretty cool boss if I might add!).
Another women had worked for the BBC prior to joining TechPixies. She had had a very successful career. She then took a career break to look after her child. When she started applying for jobs, she always got the interview, but never got the job. That is when she heard Theresa May talking about TechPixies on the BBC. I’m very happy to say that she now works for a PR company in a flexible role and is thriving.
We have some fantastic testimonials and stories from women who’ve really experienced that boost in happiness and confidence. But the testimonials that I really love are the ones that are on the Children Today website. Take Dominic for example, he has Cerebral Palsy among other things. He needed a wheelchair that would help him sit up better. Children Today provided him with a wheelchair which allowed him to stay at school longer and even enabled him to eat lunch with his friends. No longer isolated and now much more self-sufficient, he is happier and his life is better off for it.
Or take Gemma who has Spina Bifida. Jemma needed a car seat so that her family could go on longer car journeys. Her old car seat was so uncomfortable, the family was resigned to short distances in the car. The new car seat has been a game changer – but not just for her – for her family.
At TechPixies, we have a tagline or hashtag, for those of you who are technically inclined, #BringBackTheSparkle. Bring back the sparkle is all about what happens when your life improves. For women on our course, the confidence they get from completing the course gives them that little bit of sparkle and helps them back to work. When children get equipment from Children Today, not only do they get their sparkle back, but so do their parents.
To find out more about TechPixies, go to https://techpixies.com/
To find out more about Children Today, go to https://www.childrentoday.org.uk