The Brighton Girl Story

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Brighton and Hove is a vibrant and eclectic city, full of art, pebbles and dogs. Famous for its carefree lifestyle, music scene, independent shops and iconic fashion. The perfect place to start my adult life in 2015. 

But the reality was different. The creative infrastructure was there, but it was a lonely experience to find it. 

I should say at this point, I had spent 2010 studying at BIMM – the best year – and naively expected to plug myself back into the community. But the student experience here is very different to the adult one.

I desperately wanted to belong here, but it was hard to find people to connect with and businesses to support. Cue the most life-changing two minutes of my life.

In October 2015, I was walking alone on Hove Promenade and saw a girl staring out to sea. I wondered if she felt as lonely as I did, realising that what I really needed was girlfriends in the city. 

That was the moment that ‘Brighton Girl’ was born, a community for women, non-binary and trans femmes. 

I went home and created a website, convinced that the best way to connect Brighton Girls would be to make content sharing things to do in the city and encourage them to chat in the comments section. It took me five months to realise that it would be more impactful to host events and a Facebook Group.

We hosted our first Brighton Girl Coffee Meet Up on 13th March 2016. I’d advertised it on Meet Up, on Google’s advice. 

17 women turned up that day. Some who’d lived here forever, some a year, one who had moved here the day before. They made friends instantly. By the end of 2016, we expanded to two more cities, and the City Girl Network was born. Now in 18 communities with over 125,000 women, non-binary and trans femmes. And we’ve also launched City Girl Creatives for those working across the creative economy. We’re helping them to find friends, business connections, jobs, housemates, travel companions, businesses, campaigns and charities to support, as well as things to do in their local community and beyond. We have also helped thousands of women to break free from vulnerable situations, including domestic and sexual violence, and exploitation. 

Brighton Girl has over 31,000 members, supported by dozens of businesses – and this column in Discover Magazine.

Words: Pippa Moyle. Photo: Kitty Wheeler Shaw.

www.citygirlnetwork.com

Steven Graham
Author: Steven Graham

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