Rebecca Dean, known as Becca, has been awarded a Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to female empowerment and young girls.
The 32-year-old, who lives with her husband, Mike Techman, in Sugden Road, co-founded the Girls Network, a mentoring programme that inspires and empowers girls from the least advantaged communities by connecting them with a network of positive female role models.
She said: “I feel incredibly humbled and honoured to receive it. And I think particularly after the year we’ve had, running a charity has come with challenges, so it feels really special because of that.”
The Girls Network, is a one-on-one mentoring programme that pairs 14 to 19-year-old girls with professional women from seven regions across England.
The students and mentors meet at least once per month for at least one hour. There are workshops for the girls – either skill based, career based, or focused on self-development – as well as networking events for students and mentors.
The students become ambassadors so they can share the experience and hopefully become mentors themselves someday. The mentors come from a range of careers and backgrounds, but focus on fields where women are underrepresented such as tech companies, construction firms, engineering firms, and the government.
Becca said while working as a teacher in North West London, she witnessed multiple barriers girls were facing. This led her and Charly Young, also a teacher, to set up the charity in 2013.
The pair met while participating in the Teach First programme – a charity that develops and supports teachers and leaders who are determined to make a difference where it’s needed the most. Becca’s innovative approach resulted in her being awarded the Teach First innovation award.
“It was really important for me to make sure there were things out there to help remove those barriers and make it easier for those children to achieve and level up and not just survive,” she added.
And after starting the mentoring scheme with just 30 girls, The Girls’ Network now operates across Greater London, Sussex, Portsmouth, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, the North East, and Liverpool City Region, working with more than 1,000 girls each year.
Becca’s success led her to set up another charity – Literacy Hubs. The charity helps communities gain the literacy skills they need to thrive.
She said: “Our first hub is The Pompey Pirates and it launched in September 2020.
“The Pompey Pirates provides an intensive, year long, literacy programme in a unique, creative and adventurous learning environment that inspires young people from the least advantaged communities to improve their literacy skills and fall in love with reading and writing.”
Becca, who is originally from Portsmouth, was the winner of the Stylist Magazine ‘Women with heart’ Prix Awards 2017, has been featured in The Independents ‘Happy List’ and was the winner of a Shaping Portsmouth Award.
In 2017, she was also listed as one of Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs.
She paid a special thanks to her parents and husband for always supporting and championing her career.