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Lived experience is prevalent across Black-led impact organisations with staff and management often having personal experience of the challenges and issues they are looking to tackle in their local communities. This experience helps establish trust and allows impact organisations to better support their local communities. We spoke to impact-organisation leader, Hannah Oyewole on the inspiration behind her work supporting disadvantaged young women, her leadership style, and reflect on her time as part of the Do it Now Now Lived Experience Fellowship.
Last year, Do it Now Now partnered with impact measurement organisation, Coalition for Efficiency, to produce a transformative 12-week program for 20 Black leaders of social-impact organisations, with lived experience of the issues they were tackling. The programme focused on capacity building, impact measurement and evidence collection and included online, interactive training sessions, hands-on project development, 1-2-1 mentoring and fireside chats with other notable Black leaders. Hannah Oyewole was one of the programme participants. Hannah is the founder of Young Ladies Club which seeks to raise aspirations in disadvantaged young women to achieve their education and career potential by providing mentoring, confidence-building activities and career workshops from positive role models.
Hannah featured in Centre Black’s new publication - The Lived Experience Report, sharing insights on the experiences of staff and management of Black-led impact organisations and so we caught up with her for a short Q&A.
Tell us about yourself and the inspiration behind your organisation
Hannah: The inspiration behind my organisation, Young Ladies Club came from my own lived experience of facing challenges in my early years and lacking vital opportunities that could shape and develop me in society. Growing up in a deprived area in a single-parent home meant that access to role models and mentors were limited. However, that changed in my late teens when I encountered mentors and decided to undergo a personal development journey. I felt inspired reflecting on my personal growth and decided to implement all the things that helped me succeed in my organisation. The organisation provides vital programmes for young women and girls in the following areas; mentoring, employability and skills and personal development. All of which help to raise their aspirations and provide them with positive role models to achieve their career and education potential.
Describe your experience of leading a social-impact organisation in the UK
Hannah: My experience of leading a social impact organisation has been phenomenal. I thoroughly enjoy the impact Young Ladies Club has on society and the many lives that have been transformed as a result of our programmes. We aim to continue to build upon our success and positively impact the lives of young women and girls.
What is your leadership style?
Hannah: My leadership style is transformative and participative. I enjoy motivating and inspiring teams towards the vision of Young Ladies Club, additionally, I like the team to be involved in making decisions and encourage them to use their creativity.
What does lived experience mean to you? Why is it important for leadership?
Hannah: I believe lived experience is valuable and important to leadership as leaders such as myself have a first-hand experience of the issues and challenges facing our beneficiaries and therefore can relate to them better and also create long-lasting solutions and positive change.
You were part of our 12-week Lived Experience Fellowship programme- how has it impacted your personal or organisation’s growth?
Hannah: The 12-week Lived Experience Fellowship programme has impacted me positively as I gained a lot of information relating to my sector and organisation from each presentation. The programme has also helped me further develop my leadership skills and take part in other programmes to shape and grow Young Ladies Club further.
Any final words of inspiration for the community?
Hannah: If you have a dream and goal that is a burning desire in your heart then go for it. You honestly never know the lives you will impact.
Centre Black’s Lived Experience report found that Black-led impact organisations have largely negative experiences with funders with little or no consideration given to their experiences or insights. Like Young Ladies Club, many of the Black-led organisations featured in the report believe that the involvement process is tokenistic with funders placing little value on lived experience.
'This report outlines the growing disconnect between mainstream funders, local authorities and local service providers. It stands to highlight the important role intermediary funders like Common Call play as connectors between leaders with lived experience and mainstream funders. When this work is done well, impact at the grassroots level is assured.' - Bayo Adelaja, Do it Now Now CEO
The report makes eight key recommendations to funders and the wider voluntary sector community which includes placing more value on the lived experience of impact organisations and encouraging Black-led impact organisations to build stronger relationships with local MPs and councillors. This is a ground-breaking report which aims to make a tangible difference within the voluntary sector space in the UK.