Louise Coker

Founder, CEO & Head of New Mills Branch - Enhanced DBS

Headshot of Louise Coker

It’s my unfailing belief that everyone should be given the opportunity to unlock their potential, no matter what their age or circumstance.

I’ve been making a song and dance about confidence building for as long as I can remember. It’s a passion I can trace back to my days as a professional cheerleader. (Yes, that’s right. I was part of the ‘Original Shooting Stars’ International Dance Championship team, Manchester Giants resident cheerleading squad that opened the Nynex/MEN Manchester Arena back in July 1995 – ‘Live on Sky’!)

Cheerleading is so much more than shaking pom poms. It’s about creating an energy and lifting the spirits of those around you. You have no choice but to perform and it means always having your ‘game face’ on. I often assumed the role of mentor; empowering and motivating others to make the right decisions was something I found hugely rewarding.

That interest led me to a 20-year career in education. I qualified as a School Business Manager and have worked with many Senior Leadership Teams and Governing Bodies, but I was drawn to working more holistically with schools and their families. My role became more of a pastoral one, supporting on wellbeing and mental health.

My experiences taught me that strong mental health in all its forms – confidence, resilience, energy, self awareness – is an area that’s woefully under-supported.

I realised my background in performing arts could help plug this gap. I set up Take Part in 2014 as a community interest company offering a ‘theatrical experience’ that covered all aspects of creative arts. Then in 2016, when the company gained charitable status, we started working with vulnerable communities, blending life skills and wellbeing with the delivery of quality vocational education. I believe that outreach projects are critically important to the lives of so many; literally helping them to ‘take part’ in their own lives. We’ve been commissioned by local authorities and have won grant funding for so many varied projects, including recent work with local schools, European Social Fund delivering personal, social, health, economic, wellbeing and employability workshops.

By nurturing and building ambition and motivation for children and young people, Take Part is keen to find opportunities to broaden horizons and help young people overcome challenges. In short, we want to ensure everyone can thrive, both academically and personally, to be the best they can be. The pandemic has, however, brought into sharp focus that it’s not only children and young people who need our support; it’s their parents and guardians too. Adults as much as children have been overwhelmed by so much rapid change, along with worries about money and the future. As the country adapts, it’s right that our services naturally extend to people of all ages; whether that be in building their resilience or unlocking their potential.

Q: “What do you do Louise Coker?”

A: “I’m a Cheerleader. I had very little confidence as a child and have had to overcome many obstacles as an adult. I lost my Mum (my cheerleader) at the age of 25, and was told I could never have children at the age of 30. Life has been very dark at times and I’ve had to coach myself through certain situations to bring back my smile and soldier on. Cheerleading is my superpower.”

Q: “Who do you cheer for?”

A: “I cheer for those who want to make a difference, those who want to make some positive changes, despite life’s setbacks. Those who want to shape their future and be the best version of themselves they can be, with others who feel the same way. I cheer for my adopted son and all the looked after children who are now blessed with their forever families, and all those children and childless families who aren’t. I cheer for Mums who don’t have Mums and ‘yet to be Mums’ who have struggled conceiving & all those who have lost babies and children along the way. I cheer for grown ups who challenge life’s setbacks. I cheer for children who don’t yet know what’s coming. I cheer for anyone who wants to ‘take part’ in something bigger than themselves, whatever that is, on whatever level – but collectively, as a creative community. I cheer for team Take Part… and that’s probably you!”

… grab your pom poms squad, here’s to the next 7, and beyond!  It’s a privilege to play even a small part in this social movement to take charge and ‘Take Part’.

Louise’s Value To The Team:

  • Energetic; leader and influencer
  • High energy; spurs activity
  • Can multi -task easily
  • Decisive and great in crisis