Women around the world are #EmbracingEquity for this years’ International Women’s Day, so for #IWD23, we wanted to introduce you to the women in Newcastle who are championing equity in their industries either by creating opportunities for those with different circumstances, empowering women, or by leading by example as a business owner.
Get ready to be inspired by these amazing Geordie women and go give them a follow on their socials to keep up to date with their incredible work.
Whether you’re a prodigy with a paintbrush, or reducing, recycling, and reusing is more your thing, check out the women entrepreneurs who are a force for good in Newcastle.
Chantal Herbert is a self-described Newcastle student, mum, DJ, and audio producer. Passionate about supporting women and non-binary individuals, Chantal worked with Newcastle’s Angelou Centre until 2021, providing a service for Black and minoritised women aged 18 to 30, as well as a range of programmes to serve their intersecting needs and encourage development.
After seeing predominantly white men featured on DJ and event line-ups in Newcastle, it was clear to Chantal that women creatives weren’t getting the same opportunities. So, she decided something needed to be done and took the matter into her own hands.
And so, Sister Shack was born: a Black and Queer-led community interest company (CIC) that aims to give a platform to women and non-binary entrepreneurs.
Sister Shack’s goal is to “empower women and non-binary people to continue their growth in all areas” and to urge them unapologetically take up as much space as possible. Sister Shack also provides a space in which women and non-binary people can receive support and discuss issues such as feminism, relationships, racism, and consent openly.
Have you ever thought about how much plastic we actually throw away? Well, Lauren Wedderburn has.
Back in 2018, Lauren and her family became aware of the damaging effect of ‘throwaway’ culture and decided to do something about it, so, they began reducing their waste, buying as little single-use packaging as possible, and learned how to cook meals from scratch. Eventually, though, Lauren realised there was more she could do to help herself and others live a more sustainable lifestyle — so she created Something Good.
Something Good aims to empower those in the Newcastle area and beyond to live a more sustainable lifestyle. How does it work, though?
It’s pretty simple. They’re a plastic-free dispensary, selling household items like beans, pulses, and cleaning solution (to name a few). And here’s the great thing: you can buy exactly as much as you need and come back to refill your container when you run out, meaning you’d be shopping with zero waste. Then, rinse and repeat (literally if you’re buying their eco-friendly shampoo!).
You can visit Something Good at 265 Jesmond Road, or shop online via their website. Workshops are also available on a range of topics like how to make sustainable skincare, tasty raw treats, candles and home fragrances, and low-toxin cleaning products.
Personally, we’re all for women-owned businesses, especially when they’re saving the planet, too.
In our opinion, women supporting other women is always something to shout about. Meet the two women in Newcastle who are empowering other women and girls every single day.
Helen Boyd, Centre Manager at Smart Works Newcastle, works to support and empower women to gain employment and financial independence. What a day job!
Since opening in 2018 (after ex-chair Helen Sinclair campaigned for a Newcastle branch of the national charity), Smart Works’ Newcastle centre has supported over 1000 women into employment through interview coaching and providing each service user with a donated professional outfit.
Helen and her team report that 56% of the women they see have been unemployed for 12+ months, 45% are single parents, and 14% have a disability. Working in partnership with over 300 referral agencies throughout the North East like Job Centre Plus, mental health charities, and employability schemes, Helen and the Smart Works Newcastle team are championing equity and giving those with different circumstances the extra support they may need.
“Our help dovetails with existing youth employment provision reaching young women and teenage girls so we can support them to move into a permanent role,” say Smart Works Newcastle. Providing extra support for women of all ages to develop their careers is definitely something we can get behind — what about you?
You can support Smart Works by volunteering, donating your clothes or money, or by raising money via their website.
Beth Dunn, along with her girlfriend Charlie, founded Women’s Street Watch Newcastle in 2021 after the death of Sarah Everard placed a well-needed spotlight on women’s safety.
What makes Beth and the rest of the female volunteers at WSWN so inspiring? Their dedication to reducing violence against women, particularly those from marginalised communities. Whether it be providing food, water, spare shoes, or even just a friendly ear, the team are there night after night (in bright pink hi-vis, no less). Critically, WSWN are able to book and pay for taxis when needed, meaning women no longer face walking home alone at night.
Now with over 500 volunteers and growing, Beth says WSWN have no plans to slow down. To find out more about how to help, follow their social media at @womensstreetwatchncl on Instagram.
We’d love to hear about the Newcastle lasses that inspire you this #IWD23. Let us know over on socials @ncapartments_.