The Positive Image campaign

487. Kate Hardcastle (Leeds)

A West Yorkshire business woman has helped over 5,000 young people struggling with self-confidence by inspiring women across the world to give inspirational talks and guidance.

As the world marks International Women’s Day on 8 March, this week we will be recognising the achievements of five women who are making a difference around the world.

In November 2012, Kate Hardcastle launched The Positive Image Campaign to support young people struggling with self-confidence. The campaign provides encourages women to give their time to speak to students in schools and colleges about body image and confidence to challenge the negative messages young people can face. Many women also offer workshops and mentoring to support those in most need of help with body confidence issues.

In 2012, Kate decided to research why young people were struggling with self confidence and what impact that had on their future. Kate was shocked to discover that more young people than ever before were concerned by their body image and it was impacting their career choices and social interactions.

Supported by other research at the time, Kate decided to create something to support young people, particularly in schools and colleges that may not have available funds for paid for speakers and mentors. Initially launched in November 2012, Positive Image Campaign has recently expanded to Australia and the UAE – and overall has helped to support over 5,000 students with mentor and support sessions, one to one interviews and briefings and events.

The campaign encourages people to pledge 1 hour or more of their time to go into schools to take part in a part of the campaign. Currently the campaign has around 50 active mentors who have been inspired by Kate and her campaign to dedicate their time to help young people.

As well as launching the Positive Image campaign, Kate founded The Charity Dreamgirls in 2006 to help raise funds and awareness to lesser known charities. In 10 years, The Charity Dreamgirls have directly fundraised over £30,000 by organising events, annual concerts and gaining celebrity support. The money has benefited many small charities including The Next Step Trust, a charity which helps the 2 million women suffering with Endometriosis UK each year. Kate is also an ambassador for Women in Sport and a trustee of the Diana Awards.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“With Positive Image, Kate has created a fantastic initiative that encourages women to go into schools and talk to girls about body image and the pressures they can face. Her messages of confidence and choice have reached over 5,000 girls, offering them information and support at a crucial point in their lives. As we celebrate inspirational women around the world this week, I am delighted to recognise Kate Hardcastle as the UK’s 487th Point of Light.”

Kate said:

“It is a great honour to receive the Point of Light award and I am so very grateful for the nomination. It is wonderful to shine a light on the much needed support that young people need to feel confident and fulfil their potential. Supporting the community & helping charities in the UK and beyond is an extremely important part of my day to day life, from being a fundraiser in my teens through to establishing a business that dedicates 20% of its time back to those in need. Thank you again”

Craig Whittaker, MP for Calder Valley, said:

“Kate is extremely dedicated to her work and helping others, and I cannot think of a better person who deserves such recognition. I wish her every success for the future.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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