Coram’s Inspiring Women: STEM
The Aon Centre, 122 Leadenhall Street, London, EC3V 4AN
Wednesday 15th November 2017
Helen Pickstock, Chair of the Coram Inspiring Women Chapter, is an inspiring woman herself. Helen is a working mother, full-time senior manager at Coutts & Co. and, in addition to her work with Coram, she sits on the South East Committee for Women in Property. She also contributes her time to the National Student Awards, hosting workshops in universities.
We caught up with Helen, amongst her busy schedule, to talk about her work with Coram and their Inspiring Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) event.
Can you provide us with some more background into the work that Coram does?
Coram was first founded to help children who were abandoned on the streets of London. Today, the challenges faced by children are a lot more diverse than they were back then, and there’s a number of ways in which Coram help them.
One of the biggest ways Coram supports children is through adoption, which aims to give children a stable, permanent, loving home. We also offer creative therapy, such as art and music, working with abused children who suffer from speech and communication problems. Coram life education is another way that we help children, the largest school-based healthy living programme which reaches half a million school children a year.
There’s also our legal rights centre, giving children a say in their care and upbringing going forward. Recently, Coram has also helped many migrant children who have come to Britain.
Image: Coram Twitter
As chair of the Coram Inspiring Women Chapter, is Coram something very close to you?
I got involved about five years ago, via a friend. I was at the stage in my life where I wanted to start getting involved in charity and, although there are some really fabulous charities out there, I came to Coram because of the people I met whose lives were touched by the work of Coram. I’ve met families who, after numerous miscarriages and failed IVF attempts, have managed to adopt through Coram, I’ve met children who have been fostered and adopted through Coram and have listened to their experiences. One young man, only eight years old, had said that for the first time in his life he was experiencing love.
How did the Coram’s Inspiring Women chapter and panel series come about?
This goes back to the 1730s, when Thomas Coram was trying to get the royal charter he needed to set up the charity, originally named The Founding Hospital, and he enlisted the help of 21 women to get a petition together which went in front of King George II. The petition was instrumental in establishing the charity.
For the 275th anniversary, Coram decided to mark the impact of those 21 women who essentially led to the start of social care for children in Britain. Setting up the Inspiring Women Chapter was a way to celebrate the differences made by women.
Image: Coram Facebook
What can someone attending expect from Coram’s Inspiring Women STEM event?
You can expect thought-provoking, inspiring discussion on a range of subjects. We have a series of different themes, with this event focusing on how women can excel in STEM careers. It will be a great networking event, as well as a chance to learn a bit about Coram’s history. Our previous event, Inspiring Women: Crossing the line, attracted around 100 men and women, from across the city and beyond.
Who will be on the panel at the Inspiring Women STEM event?
Dr Emily Grossman, an internationally acclaimed science author, public speaker and TV personality, she is an expert in molecular biology and genetics.
Dr Jennifer Schooling,Director of the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC), at the University of Cambridge, who is working to develop commercial technologies, tools for data analysis and more.
Claire Cockerton, serial entrepreneur, a specialist in tech clusters, innovation services and startup eco-systems and founder & CEO of Plexal, one of the largest innovation centres in Europe, based at Here East.
Why is celebrating the achievements of women in STEM so important?
Celebrating the achievements of women in anything is important, but women are so massively under-represented in STEM. Only 9% of the engineer workforce in Britain are female. Many young women at school are not encouraged to go into STEM; it’s getting better, but there’s still an awful long way to go! Ultimately, there is a real shortage of talent in STEM, for both men and women, and it’s about creating more awareness.
Which fellow women are you inspired by?
I’m inspired by most women who work and have families, effectively holding down two jobs! Women who are driven, focused, determined and can cope with adversity are pioneers in whatever they do.
If you look back in history at people like Elizabeth Garret Anderson, who was amazing because she was the first woman doing so many things in Britain; she was a medic, the first female mayor, female magistrate and the first woman to sit on a school board. Women like her are just incredible.
Can you share what other Coram Inspiring Women events are on the horizon?
We are looking at doing a couple more panel events in 2018 – we are specifically looking into a literary panel and a finance panel. We also plan to host a charity dinner towards the end of the year, to raise funding and awareness of Coram’s work for young children in Britain and to celebrate the work and differences made by women.
If you are interested in becoming a committee member, learning more or have any time to give, please contact Alice Lamb or Helen Pickstock at Coram via InspiringWomen@Coram.org.uk.
Will you be attending Coram’s Inspiring Women panel series? Let us know in the comments below!