A unique women’s leadership programme developed by Imperial and local partners is supporting women in White City to achieve their ambitions.
The first programme of its kind in the UK, Agents of Change aims to help local women to feel confident in taking leadership roles in all areas of their life.
It is designed to address specific barriers that prevent local women from achieving their full potential, equipping them to strengthen and empower both themselves and their local communities.
One of the participants on the programme is local resident Carol Fraser. After a successful and dynamic career – including stints in corporate City firms and the mental healthcare sector – her life changed dramatically. Her daughter began to experience mental health problems, and Carol made the decision to leave work to care for her.
During this time, Carol began learning how to grow organic food for her family and researching plant-based nutrition. She volunteered on a farm in Chingford and took up horticultural studies. Soon, she began to realise that her new-found passion for vegan food could be turned into a business.
Carol began to share her new-found knowledge through workshops which became a business that has gone on to support the wellbeing of others.
Over the past five years, Carol has built her own thriving business called Carol’s Organic Kitchen, dedicated to vegan and organic food. She operates a 'home-restaurant' run from her house in West London which serves vegan meals, made with organic ingredients from local producers, to people curious about plant-based diets. She also teaches people how to prepare and cook homemade vegan recipes themselves through online courses, events and sessions from her home, as well as lessons in DIY skincare.
Carol was recently was appointed Head Chef at Harmony Day Nursery in Hammersmith and Fulham, where she is responsible for providing healthy and nutritious meals for 50 children. She is now developing a project in partnership with the nursery to encourage sustainability among children and their families
Speaking of her success, Carol said: “For a very long time, I’d lost my joy. I’d become something to others and nothing was left for myself. I’d been searching for that kind of joy again.”
Founding her business, Carol said, allowed her to have balance back in her life. She added: “It’s actually taken off quite rapidly. It’s been an amazing journey.”
Carol was one of 12 women to join the Agents of Change programme in July 2018. Over six months, the programme covered different aspects of leadership and professional development, providing insights into topics such as networking, communication, influencing, motivating a team and bringing about change.
The Agents of Change programme also lays the foundations for a new women’s leadership network – made up of women who have participated in the programme and those who have supported it – which will provide ongoing support, foster partnerships, and stimulate community innovation within the local area.
Speaking of the programme, Carol said. “The self-development, and thinking about myself differently, gave me more confidence, vigour and self-esteem. This programme provides opportunities for personal growth, business development, and gaining new insights. It is the ideal programme to go on to do better for yourself and better for others.”
The community and network of women on the programme has been a particular highlight for Carol. Asked what she enjoyed most about taking part in the programme, she said: “The energy among the women and being connected to wonderful people I would never have met before.
“And you know what is the greatest thing? I now have a beautiful support network of women.”
Article text (excluding photos or graphics) © Imperial College London.
Photos and graphics subject to third party copyright used with permission or © Imperial College London.
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