Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy was “a tiny, Jenny-wren like of a woman” who worked tirelessly to create a society where women were free and equal with men, able to choose how they lived their lives and free from violence endorsed by the laws of the country. Born in Manchester in 1833, her mother died days after her birth. From an early age Elizabeth was inquisitive and read widely; she soon decided that she wished to break out of the accepted role and be an independent woman.  But a university education was denied to Elizabeth for one reason – she was a woman. The Fulneck School near Pudsey gave Elizabeth her only opportunity of an education, which she grabbed with both hands. During her life of campaigning Elizabeth became a member of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women – the original name for our charity – and worked alongside Jessica Boucherett to support women into employment suited to their capabilities, rather than into domestic service or needlework.

A book by Dr Mary Holmes celebrating the life of Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy is shortly being published and Mary is undertaking a speaking tour to promote the book. The proceeds of the sales of the book and the tour are being split between Futures for Women and the Moravian Women’s Association.

Do you know of a social group, business or local network that might be interested in hosting one of Mary’s talks? You can contact Mary on mary@woodhall28.co.uk

Read more about Elizabeth’s life on this website.

Lovers of Lincolnshire history now have a wealth of new stories to discover – online and on foot – as the award-winning Market Rasen Heritage Tour and website expands from 14 stops to 20. This has been made possible by the addition of 6 new stories focusing on “Wolds Women of Influence”, taken from an exhibition of the same name which launched in 2018.   Our founder, Jessie Boucherett, and her sister Louisa feature in 2 of the 6 new stories.

The website can be found at www.marketrasenheritagetour.co.uk, where visitors can explore a vintage map of the town and find the women’s stories by clicking on blue bonnet icons.

Six new plaques have also been placed in and around the town at locations connected to the women, to give a companion walking tour. The plaques all have QR codes linking them to the story pages of the website.

The stories which feature Jessie and Louisa can be viewed on this page,

Elizabeth Clarke Wolstenholme Elmy (1833 – 1918) was a life-long campaigner and organiser, who was significant in the history of women’s suffrage. Despite being denied an extensive formal education she became headmistress of a private girls’ school and campaigned for girls to be given access to the same higher education as boys. Elizabeth formed the Women’s Emancipation Union in 1891 spent 50 years of her life campaigning for women’s suffrage – the right to vote. She was also an active member of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women – the forerunner of Futures for Women. But Elizabeth was not a single issue campaigner and wanted parity between the sexes. She was also secretary to the Married Women’s Property Committee from 1867 until its success with the introduction of the Married Women’s Property Act in 1882.

Although Elizabeth’s achievements were recognised during her lifetime she is not as well known as some other suffragists. But Dr Mary Holmes is working to raise Elizabeth’s profile. Dr Holmes has written a book about Elizabeth’s work and is embarking on a series of talks to promote this. All profits from the talks and the book will go to two charities; the Moravian Women’s Association – as Elizabeth received her two years formal education at the Moravian Fulneck School – and Futures for Women, to recognise Elizabeth’s membership of SPEW.

You can read more about Elizabeth’s life and the book tour talks on this website

On 8 March, International Women’s Day 2022, the Minister for Women, Baroness Stedman-Scott, has announced two initiatives which will help towards levelling up employment opportunities for women.

Firstly, participating employers will be running pilots aimed at closing salary gaps by publishing salaries on all job adverts. Applicants will not be asked to disclose their salary history, which will provide an opportunity for women to negotiate pay on a fairer basis.

Secondly, a new returners programme will be supporting women into STEM roles after taking time out to care for loved ones. This new programme will help organisations to recruit and retain talented staff who are often overlooked because of a gap on their CV, by providing training, development and employment support to those who have taken time out for caring.

Commenting on the salary initiative the Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said “This is an important first step. We hope more employers will answer this call, and sign Fawcett’s pledge, as part of other actions to tackle their pay gaps.”


Do you know of a female graduate who needs additional finance to continue their education or training?

Our interest-free loan programme re-opened on 1 March and we warmly welcome applications from anyone who identifies as a woman.

Our loans of up to £1000 are repaid over an agreed timescale once the beneficiary is in paid employment.

Visit our news page to read all about past beneficiaries and our apply page to download an application form and read the terms and conditions.

The closing date for this round is 30 April.

We have recently heard from one of our beneficiaries who received an interest-free loan to help with the costs of studying a Physician Associate MSc. She said “I just wanted to say a huge thank you once again to everyone’s generosity that has got me to where I am today.  I have been working as  a Physician Associate in A&E since qualifying and enjoy meeting new people every day and hopefully impacting their lives. COVID has been testing but reminds me of the privileged situation I’m in to be able to help others.  One day I would love to do further studying and even progress to qualifying as a doctor.

“I am aware my journey has only been possible because of the kindness and help I have received from others, hence aside from working I have started up a project organising yearly workshops in my secondary school (an all-girls comprehensive in London)  connecting former pupils in various careers to the young girls currently studying, hopefully inspiring them to succeed in their own chosen careers”.

At our December 2021 board meeting we appointed two new Trustees, who will give us access to a new range of skills and knowledge to complement those of our existing board members.

Ayesha Bharmal is a Partner at Brunswick Group and co-lead of the firm’s Healthcare and Life Sciences team in the UK, providing advice to companies across the sector in areas including corporate communications, reputation management and disease awareness campaigning. Prior to Brunswick Ayesha spent 15 years specialising in healthcare communications, in agency and at the global pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca. Her early career included a focus on consumer technology, both in agency and as a Government Press Officer.

Our second appointment is former beneficiary Louise Paterson.   After reading Art History at Cambridge University and completing the Graduate Diploma in Law, Louise studied for a postgraduate certificate in Art Crime and Antiquities Trafficking at the University of Glasgow, funded in part by a loan from Futures for Women.  Now a solicitor, Louise provides legal and tax advice to individuals, trustees and charities, with a particular focus on artwork, cultural property and national heritage.

We look forward to working with Ayesha and Louise as we move forward with our new strategy.

Ayesha Bharmal
Louise Paterson

We recently heard from an ex-beneficiary of a Futures for Women interest-free loan who is now developing her career. She said “Thank you again for this loan – it has really helped me set up my career! 

“I am now 2 years into a graduate programme and am very happy doing my engineering work in the water industry and helping to improve sustainability. I’ve been given more responsibility as well – I am now the project leader on a new scheme. This means doing the design in my own discipline (mechanical) as well as being responsible for the project design as a whole and coordinating the tasks of a team. It is a bit daunting but quite exciting, and I’m happy that they have given me this responsibility. I really enjoy being able to see the overview of a whole project as well as just my small section.”

It’s great to hear that our support has help another women start the career of her choice, and especially one in a STEM industry.

On International Women’s Day 8 March 2021 the Trustees of Futures for Women announced a new strategy for the year; to offer grants of £500 to female students aged 19+ studying further education courses at Grimsby Institute. The grants were being funded from the Boucherett Fund, named in memory of the Futures for Women founder, Jessie Boucherett.    Jessie’s family lived in North Willingham, Lincolnshire and her grandfather, Ayscoghe  Boucherett, was MP for Grimsby between 1796 and 1803 and oversaw the opening of the town’s first dock.  

Our Trustees worked closely with the Bursary Department of Grimsby Institute to receive and review the applications and we have now agreed to award 10 grants of £500 to women in financial need. The courses being studied comprise hairdressing (3 students), health and social care (5 students), mechanical engineering and painting and decorating. The grants awarded will help the students to purchase the equipment that is required for attending their chosen course and will also help pay for course fees.

We will keep in contact with Grimsby Institute and look forward to hearing feedback from the students once they have graduated.

After careful consideration the Trustees of Futures for Women have now confirmed the ten candidates who will receive an interest-free loan of £1000 in 2021.

The loan is awarded to help with the costs of higher education. The range of subjects being studied by our candidates is diverse and impressive; Chinese Studies, Building Surveying, Architecture, Physician Associate, Medicine, Art Therapy, Therapeutic Counselling, Social Research, Refugee and Forced Migration and the Mummy MOT.

We are so pleased to be able to help these women complete their studies and progress on to their desired career. We look forward to maintaining contact with them and hearing their feedback.

The selection process this year was particularly challenging due to the numbers and quality of the applications received. Congratulations to the ten women whose applications stood out for their passion for their chosen subject and determination to succeed in their chosen career.