Inspirational Woman: Friedel Fink | Founder, Big Sis CIC

Friedel FinkI’m a Holistic Health Educator specialised in women’ s health, practicing as a Yoga & Meditation Teacher and Abdominal Massage Body Worker.

Through my interdisciplinary background, rooted in the arts (MA in Scenography and communication), education and interactive community projects, I am passionate in finding creative and accessible ways that inspire for a positive body image, emotional resilience and a growing self-esteem cross culturally. I founded Big Sis CIC in 2020, a UK based wellbeing platform developing girl empowerment initiatives supporting girls 8-12 and their immediate support networks.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m a Holistic Health Educator specialised in women’ s health, practicing as a Yoga & Meditation Teacher and Abdominal Massage Body Worker. Through my interdisciplinary background, rooted in the arts (MA in Scenography and communication), education and interactive community projects, I am passionate in finding creative and accessible ways that inspire for a positive body image, emotional resilience and a growing self-esteem cross culturally. I founded Big Sis CIC in 2020, a UK based wellbeing platform developing girl empowerment initiatives supporting girls 8-12 and their immediate support networks.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?​

In fact it was a mixture of strong will and coincidence. In November 2019 I participated in a business incubator programme – ‘Startup Weekend’ – in Plymouth which gave me the final push to set up my business and accidentally inspired me to set up a social enterprise to create a bigger impact. After years of jobs that didn’t fulfill me in my desires to create better conditions for girls and women and everyone with a menstrual cycle, it felt about time to create my business from scratch. In January 2020 we started to plan a Crowdfunding campaign, which was launched simultaneously when the pandemic started, we successfully funded our first project in July 2020. The funding enabled us to put the structures and help into place to bring the CIC to life.

Have you faced any challenges along the way? ​

The biggest obstacle so far is to create a sustainable support network for myself and the business personally and professionally. It isn’t a walk in the park to set up a social enterprise. It challenges me to think broader, deal with a variety of people and sometimes boring paperwork. But I am being rewarded with amazing collaborations, opportunities of likeminded people that want to make a difference. I need to ask the question again and again – what or who could support me in different areas of business and life – and not be afraid to ask for help. It was always worth it so far and the worst that can happen is to get a ‘NO’, a skill that trains me to be rewarded with personal resilience and courage day in day out. The process of talking about the business, what matters to me, reaching out to the wider community via crowdfunding, personal and business networks as well as friends, as taking care of my personal wellbeing, have been a great support.

What has been your biggest achievement to date? ​

First: When we reached our funding goal in the midths of the pandemic, which enabled us to bring our ‘Girl Mentoring Programme’ into schools for free and reach a lot of girls. Secondly: When the first school signed up and said’ Yes please, we want this for our students’ AND ‘Can we do it twice?’. I felt proud of the whole team that led ongoing conversations with teachers, professors and individuals to make it happen, in a very challenging time.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? ​

Integrity. What I do professionally is inseparable from what I believe in as a person. One thing I love about what I do is that I get to be part of a team and collaborate and create. Also with your own business you get a unique chance to create the working conditions for yourself and your employees that work for them. I feel grateful that I grew out of the widespread cultural belief that I held when I was younger: that one needs to do work to earn money and that passion isn’t a part of that. Now I know that passion drives enjoyable work and wellbeing.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee? ​

Mentoring is one of the main tools we use in our programmes, often with a near peer approach. We also make use of mentoring within our team. It’s a great way to learn from someone who’s been on a similar journey and can help guide yours. I’d recommend it to anyone!

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be? ​

We are working on it, one girl at a time. All our programmes, workshops and webinars address puberty education holistically. We need to start seeing people as a whole – so what really needs to change is our view.

We need to see everything interconnected. Our approach: to address physical and emotional changes, as well as providing skills for an anchored journey of growing up. We don’t only address the needs of our main beneficiaries (girls between the ages of 8-13) but also strengthen their support networks to support them. Because these connections strengthen. This approach has been growing on the understanding that we need to start with ourselves. For example, if a mother holds shame about her body or periods, how can she role model a positive relationship to her daughter?!

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be? ​

To listen to myself instead to others. I truly believe that if everyone of us listens deeply to what we truly want and need in all its nuances, the world would be more in balance. The menstrual cycle with its different hormonal and energy levels is actually a great guide with that. I wished I had learned about it when I was still a young girl, which drives work with young people now.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future? ​

Big Sis’ is working to create better conditions for growing up, encouraging open conversations, better support structures for girls and nurturing the values of kindness, authenticity and creativity. Our next exciting challenge is to train our first volunteer mentors this summer and launch the programme in September 2021 in schools. Fingers crossed!


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