by Bridget Aherne
Put Cheetham Hill in a search engine and the top result you’ll see is about it being the knock-off capital of the UK and, if you’ve already heard of it, you may know of it for other unsavoury reasons.
It’s the place I come from and where my mum and Irish immigrant dad still live and, while far from being ashamed of my origins, the fact is it meant that I faced a struggle to get into PR.
After stumbling across an interest in PR, there was no one in my family nor anyone I knew who could help me plot a route into the profession, so it was for me to find out about, work towards and fund my way into.
I won’t bore you or I with the detail, but it was not easy, and I still find it a challenge to progress – not least because I suffer imposter syndrome and feel that someone from my background doesn’t deserve to be a chartered PR, at the top of their game, in our industry.
As recently as two years ago, I had a tearful late-night conversation with Sarah Hall where I was convinced that something had gone wrong at work because I’m trash and not worthy of a big job.
If there were more people like me working in business leadership, I might not have inaccurately looked at myself and the shortcomings I perceive that I have: talking like a docker in a rough accent, being thick and Irish, and often feeling of less value by being a young woman in traditionally male-dominated environments.
So, I was chuffed to bits three weeks ago when Sarah announced she was launching a charitable foundation, Socially Mobile, to support people like me – those from lower socioeconomic households, BAME practitioners and women returners.
Please get behind this worthwhile cause whether by donating cash, becoming a sponsor or supporting in some other way, like I have with this blog, and don’t decry the need for this, if you haven’t lived the struggle.
There is no threat to the industry by levelling the playing field and there are actually many benefits – in the organisations I’ve worked for, I’ve regularly been the only voice in the room that can authoritatively give insight into the customers or members of the public that we’re there to serve.
You can find out more about Socially Mobile here.
Bridget Aherne Chart. PR is an award-winning public relations leader whose work since going it alone was recognised at 2018’s CIPR Excellence Awards, where she was named outstanding independent practitioner. She provides counsel to the leaders of organisations across the country – as well as remaining hands-on in the delivery of activities for those she works with. You can find her on Twitter @BridgetAherne.