Our Chair Joanna Murray (right) was delighted to meet Polly Harrar from The Sharan Project on 28 March to discuss our part-funding of their programme in Birmingham which will give realistic employment opportunities for two groups of vulnerable women from the South Asian community. We very much look forward to working with The Sharan Project and visiting the programme in action.
The trustees of Futures for Women are delighted to announce on International Women’s Day that they have chosen to fund the charity The Sharan Project as their first project partner.
The Sharan Project is a national charity that supports vulnerable women, particularly from South Asian communities in Britain, who have experienced persecution, domestic violence, forced marriage, honour based abuse and other forms of cultural conflict. The Sharan Project provides them with the tools to lead an independent life without fear and realise their full potential. Over the next 2 years Futures for Women will make a grant of up to £29,000 to part-fund a Sharan Project programme which will seek to create realistic employment opportunities for 2 groups of 20 women, based in Birmingham. The women will be supported to overcome the barriers and challenges they may face in securing employment opportunities towards financial independence. The programme will also involve partner organisations to deliver on employability training, makeover, interview coaching, and benefit related support.
Chair of Futures for Women, Joanna Murray, said “Part-funding an employment project run by a charity partner is a radical change of direction for Futures for Women. But our Trustees are confident that this new direction would have the full support of our founder Jessie Boucherett, who pushed hard against boundaries in the 19th century in order to give women the opportunities to carve out a career of their choice. We are excited to be supporting the Sharan Project programme for the next 2 years and look forward to meeting the participants and hearing of their employment successes. Its programme will also reduce social isolation and the risk of abuse, increase self-confidence and create a new network of friendships which will change lives forever”.
Polly Harrar, Founder and Trustee of The Sharan Project said “We are delighted to be working with Futures for Women, we recognise that economic abuse can have a lasting effect for women who have experienced abuse. This programme is designed to empower women to rebuild their lives towards independent living without fear.”
Futures for Women was formed in 1859 and since that date has been helping women with professional and vocational training, including the provision of interest-free loans for the cost of courses, in order to improve their employment prospects. Following a strategic review in 2018 the Trustees decided to cease the awarding of loans and part-fund a 2 year project that supports disadvantaged women into the workplace.
The work of the Sharan Project (registered charity 1149094) can be viewed on their website www.sharan.org.uk
International Women’s Day is always celebrated on 8 March. This year the campaign them is #BalanceforBetter
Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth and gender-balanced sports coverage. Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.
IWD is asking everyone to put their hands out and STRIKE THE #BalanceforBetter POSE and make International Women’s Day YOUR day – and do what you can to truly make a positive difference for women everywhere.
Futures for Women beneficiary Phoebe Tan has just completed her Masters in Glass. Her project was entitled “Ascension through artefact’ and offered a vessel for cremation which is sensitive to the various traditional methods and elements to mourning, as well as the trends in contemporary design within modern Singapore. Phoebe is now pursuing her desire to teach.
Our Society has been helping women into the work place since 1859. In 1871 Elizabeth Walker was given a rent-free room to help her establish her career as a glass engraver. Queen Victoria later purchased two of Elizabeth’s engraved goblets and jugs. We would like to thank Elizabeth’s descendants for sending us this photo and letting us know a little about Elizabeth’s life. It is good to hear about beneficiaries – even after nearly 150 years!
Following a strategic review that took place in 2018 Futures for Women has ceased its interest-free loans and moving forward will be working with a charity partner to help disadvantaged women into the workplace. A review of short-listed applications has taken place and it is planned to announce our new partner in March 2019. Please watch this space for further details!
The Fawcett Society, Lincolnshire branch, and Futures for Women are jointly submitting an application to English Heritage for a blue plaque to be installed on the house in London where Jessie Boucherett lived for a period of five years whilst she was working on women’s suffrage issues. The house in Kensington is still a private residence and so, if our application is successful, we will need the permission of the current house owner before any plaque can be installed. Currently only 13% of London’s 902 blue plaques recognise women so it would seem fitting that our application on behalf of Jessie should be accepted! We will know the outcome of the application in October 2019 and it is a competitive process with only one out of five applications being successful.
‘Vote 100’ and the centenary of some women gaining the vote have seen the profile of Jessie Boucherett being raised in her home county of Lincolnshire this year. During the summer the town of Market Rasen, which is near to Jessie’s family home at North Willingham, hosted an exhibition in its Old Magistrate’s Court which showcased the work of Jessie and her sister Louisa. The exhibition was collaboration between the Town Council, Rase Heritage Society, Fawcett Society and University of Lincoln. Angela Wilson, Anne Egglestone and Angela Stubbs of the Fawcett Society undertook all of the research for the posters on the life of Jessie, helped with information from our book “Timely Assistance”.
On 7 August a private viewing of the exhibition was organised and Dr Anne Bridger (co-author of “Timely Assistance”) and our Secretary, Jane Hampson, were invited along to take part in a post-viewing informal discussion. After the invited guests had had a chance to read all of the information about Jessie and Louisa, everyone sat down over drinks and cakes to hear more about the life of Jessie and the current work of Futures for Women.
A local photographer came along to capture the event and excellent coverage of the exhibition was gained in the local newspaper.
The exhibition has proved very successful in drawing people in from Market Rasen and Lincolnshire and has received lots of positive comments. It is planned to take the exhibition on the road in the Lincolnshire Wolds and more work will be done on researching other influential women in a wider geographical area.
The photograph below shows Dr Anne Bridger (fourth from right on the front row) standing next to Jane Hampson in the Old Magistrate’s Court.
Our founder, Jessie Boucherett, has received special recognition in a project to identify and celebrate the lives of previously hidden women and supportive men who were active in the campaign for votes, leading to the Representation of the People Act 1918, and who used the extended rights to citizenship in a positive way locally.
As Jessie died in 1905 she was unable to join the “Top 100” list of women and men who continued their activism after the vote was won. But the judges added 20 names for special recognition by women who died before 1918 but who had nonetheless made a particular contribution to women’s suffrage. Jessie Boucherett appears in this list.
As the UK marked the centenary of some women gaining the vote Futures for Women was proud to know that its founder, Jessie Boucherett, played a part in starting the campaign for women’s suffrage.
After establishing the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women (now known as Futures for Women), Jessie became involved in many other aspects of the women’s movement, in the process developing an impressive feminist identity. The importance of the contribution she made to that movement has been largely overlooked by historians. It was Jessie’s immediate donation (of a sum equivalent to at least £2,000 today) offered during a discussion with Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon in May 1866 which helped the campaign for women’s suffrage to get off the ground. On notepaper headed ‘Society for Promoting the Employment of Women in connexion with the NAPSS, 19 Langham Place, London’ Bodichon wrote to John Stuart Mill’s daughter Helen Taylor, suggesting that the latter should draft a petition to gain the vote for women. Bodichon wrote:
“Miss Boucherett who is here puts down £25 at once for expenses. I shall be every day this week at this office at 3 p.m. Could you write a petition – which you could bring with you.”
On 6 February the life and work of Jessie Boucherett was featured in two BBC programmes celebrating Vote100. Dr Anne Bridger, historian and co-author of the book “Timely Assistance” which charts Jessie’s life and work, was interviewed on BBC Look North and BBC Radio Lincolnshire.
Jessie died in 1905, thirteen years before the vote was given to some women, and is buried in North Willingham churchyard in Lincolnshire. But her legacy lives on in Futures for Women, who continue to assist women with the costs of further education and training to enable them to become financially independent and active members of our society.