Elizabeth spent 5 years of her life struggling with mental health issues which greatly affected her thoughts around her own body image and selfesteem. It was only when she taught herself to develop a mechanism for overcoming these thoughts, and a more positive attitude about herself, that she began to create the tools to help her fully recover. She realised at this point that she could help others to adopt the same process. Elizabeth continually uses her own previous struggles to create a service which is beneficial for all.
Her journey continued when a friend asked Elizabeth what her dream job would be. She spoke about how much she would enjoy working with young people to help them view body image in a more positive light and, therefore, avoid the debilitating and destructive behaviours that can develop for individuals with low self-esteem. Her friend's response was 'Why don't you do it?!' This 'light bulb' moment led to the creation of Elizabeth's social venture, Look Positive, www.lookpositive.co.uk
Elizabeth is a student at Durham University, studying Sociology. She has just completed her first year and has also been successful in gaining a 'Try It' Award of £340. She is currently in the process of applying for a 'Do It' Award in order to take her social venture to the next level. The 'Try It' Award enabled Elizabeth to produce marketing materials, run pilot workshops and fund postage, etc. The University's workshops and the one-toone business support from her business adviser have been really useful.
Elizabeth has now run a number of very successful workshops in schools that have generated a great deal of interest from organisations working with young people. She has also been approached by the local authority to explore her ideas further. Not knowing anything about starting up and running a business was Elizabeth's initial concern. However, with the support of her Business Adviser at Durham University, her confidence grew. Just on a whim, she decided to enter for the Durham Blue Print Award for Business Planning Competition and was delighted to receive the 'Runner Up' Award. Elizabeth will now go forward for the Regional Final in September 2013.
In the early stages, Elizabeth's first attempt at marketing was to send out 10 speculative letters to schools - with no result. She learned, very quickly, that research is vital to be able to target people specifically.
Elizabeth has received some excellent feedback from her workshops delivered in schools from both teachers and students. Testimonials are providing evidence of this:
- 'If I ever feel bad about myself again, I know what to do to make me feel better. This can help others to feel good about themselves. Thank you!!! I feel better now' - Female, Year 7, Cambridgeshire
- 'Before I looked in the mirror and felt a bit depressed but now I feel much more able to change the way I feel about myself' - Female, Year 7, Cambridgeshire
One young girl, in a group Elizabeth was teaching, said she was going home to share what she'd learned with her mother who she thought had a very negative view of herself. It was a great indication of the wider audiences that could benefit from Elizabeth's workshops.
Elizabeth is generating income from the commissioned workshops in schools. Her plan is that any profits from this will enable her to deliver workshops in local communities at reduced fees/ free of charge.
As an individual who experienced great anxiety and self-esteem issues in the past, the idea of being assertive and approaching schools, local government and entering competitions, was incredibly daunting. However, Elizabeth overcame this and has developed in leaps and bounds as a result! She also acknowledges that she has learned so much about running a business with the support of Durham University.
Elizabeth's life has changed quite dramatically for the better. She is very passionate in her belief that she can make a difference to young people and help them overcome this negative perception of themselves. It's also done wonders for her confidence!
She has successfully recruited volunteers to support her work and often takes one or two of them with her to support the workshops. There is evidence, through feedback, that Elizabeth is having an impact on young learners and averting their path towards negative behaviours because of poor body image and low self-esteem issues. Elizabeth's vision for Look Positive is to deliver her workshops in other regions and perhaps employ someone to assist her in extending her reach. An increase in the use of volunteers would also be necessary. For the time being, however, Elizabeth is submitting her application for her 'Do It' Award in order to expand her project into a sustainable business with very clear social aims.