CEO Bilkis Miah – You Be You education ‘disrupter’

Hi, I’m Bilkis Miah, the CEO of national UK social enterprise You Be You. Five years ago, I sat down at my kitchen table and thought long and hard about how I was going to leave a lasting and positive mark on our young people. It’s been my mission for a while now, but to see an idea turn into reality has been rewarding to say the least. It’s also been a highlight to be recognised as one of the UK’s Top 100 social entrepreneurs in the country.

Today, I’m proud to say that 2,317 pupils and 657 teachers now have the skills and tools to allow their young community to feel positive about themselves; regardless of background, skin colour, disability, gender – thanks to You Be You. These thousands of young people have received a very powerful message from the all-important adults around them – and that message is ‘You Be You’.

Because that’s who we should be! And I’m on a mission to make every young person in the UK understand that there’s no mould to fit into; there’s no shame in being different. In fact, we’re on a mission to help young people understand that our differences are what make us likeable, loveable, incredible!

The window to make a difference is very small! The challenge is a long road but I’m willing to walk it and the more people I have with me on this journey, the more successful society will be. So, does society need improving where our young people are concerned? I believe so because as much as the Government of today talks about ‘levelling up’ and ‘diversity and inclusion’ they’re missing a very narrow window to make a difference to young people’s lives.

That window is between the ages of 0 and 7 years old. And, if children by that stage don’t celebrate who they are then the societal moulds start to envelope our children leaving them feeling like they don’t measure up, empty, insecure and ultimately ineffective to live their very best lives.
Research shows that by age 7 children are already limited by gender, class and race. In 2022, only 10.9% of registered nurses in the UK were male (source: Nursing and Midwifery Council) and 26.9% of the core STEM workforce was female (source: Annual Population Survey), a direct result of these limitations.

Too many schoolchildren are suffering low self-esteem and reduced chances to thrive because of the colour of their skin, their gender or where they are being brought up. These children simply don’t have the life skills they need to thrive in their future, both personally and professionally. There is a massive gap in our education system and the Government alone cannot tackle this problem.

So, the team at You Be You is on a mission to close this gap and sign-up every school in the country to our programme and help all children thrive.

You’ll be hearing more about our awareness campaign as we ask local authorities and businesses to sponsor a school where diversity and inclusivity is an issue.

So what is the programme we’ve created to truly help young people through this critical stage of their lives? We’ve created Early Years and KS1& KS2 lessons to break stereotypes and embed diversity and inclusion. Teachers have been delivering our fun, research-informed, cross-curricular lessons and have found our programme impactful, and an empowering way to learn the skills they need to embed diversity, equity and inclusion. Our programme has been co-designed alongside our community of teachers. In short, it’s been created by teachers, for teachers, and the lesson plans are backed by research and best practice.

We can’t wait to tell you more about the positive impact these life-changing lessons have made to schoolchildren and their families and by checking in regularly on this blog and our social media channels, you can follow our journey to get every school in the country on board with You Be You.

Hold tight, it’s going to be fast!

In 2023, we are supporting You Be You’s “Empowering BME pupils in Tower Hamlets” project through our Connecting People and Places Fund’s Collaborative Commissions 2023, co-funded by City of London as part of our  Foundations Programme.

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