In 2017 Lorraine Brown received an interest-free loan from Futures for Women to help her with the costs of her course at Highgate Counselling Centre where she was studying for a qualification in psychodynamic counselling. She is now working as an honorary counsellor at Cambridge University. But alongside her studies Lorraine was also developing her passion for creative writing and after winning a competition to be mentored by Penguin Random House Lorraine was successful in securing a publishing contract for her debut novel, Uncoupling, with Orion Fiction. Uncoupling was published in February 2021.

Uncoupling is a love story with a difference. It tells the story of how Hannah and Si are in love and on the same track – until their train divides on the way to a wedding. The next morning, Hannah wakes up in Paris and realises that her boyfriend (and her ticket) are 300 miles away in Amsterdam. But when Hannah meets Léo on the station platform and spends the day with him in Paris, she is forced to question how well she really knows herself – and whether, sometimes, you need to go in the wrong direction to find what you have been looking for.

The reviews for Uncoupling have been very positive with Prima magazine saying “‘Utterly charming, you’ll be yearning to hotfoot it to Paris!'”.

Uncoupling is available for purchase at major book stores and on Lorraine’s website www.lorrainebrownbooks.com You can also download a digital version here.

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 our Trustees are delighted to announce that we will be partnering with Grimsby Institute, a further and higher education centre in north east Lincolnshire, to offer up to 20 grants of £500 each to women students in need of financial support to complete their studies.

Futures for Women was established in 1859 by suffragist Jessie Boucherett, whose family lived in North Willingham, Lincolnshire.  Her grandfather, Ayscoghe  Boucherett, was MP for Grimsby between 1796 and 1803 and oversaw the opening of the town’s first dock.  Jessie Boucherett made it her life’s work to improve the employability of women and established the Society for Promoting of the Employment of Women to encourage women with training for careers suited to their capabilities, rather than the respectable and underpaid choices of employment  that were expected of them.   

The grants of £500 each announced today are available to female students of 19 years and over who are studying or will be studying a further education course at Grimsby Institute which will lead them to paid employment.  The grants may be used towards course fees or associated hardship costs.  Applications for a grant are being administered by Grimsby Institute’s Bursary Department.

Futures for Women’s Chair, Rosie Parr said “We look forward to supporting women studying at Grimsby Institute in the home county of our charity’s founder, and we hope that at such a difficult time for so many, our grants will assist them to find new career directions and to achieve their work aspirations.’

Susan Wells, Schools Liaison and Admissions Manager at Grimsby Institute said “We are delighted that Futures for Women have offered this support in memory of Jessie Boucherett, to local learners hoping to gain skills and qualifications to progress in their careers,.”

Women who are either currently studying  at Grimsby Institute, or who will be starting a course in September 2021, and who are interested in applying for a grant should email the Bursary department on bursary@grimsby.ac.uk or telephone  01472 311222 for an application form.  The closing date for applications is 31 May 2021.

When a copy of our book Timely Assistance by Dr Anne Bridger and Dr Ellen Jordan was purchased by an academic in Australia we were intrigued, and followed up the contact. Dr Catherine Layton is a retired lecturer and research into little-known Victorian figures has become her new passion. Dr Layton was born in Hampstead, but has lived in New South Wales since 1975.

Due to her expertise Dr Layton was asked to contribute several articles for the Palgrave Encyclopaedia of female Victorian Writers, including those on Rhoda Garrett and Agnes Garrett, the first women to obtain apprenticeships with an architect and subsequently the first to establish themselves as professional interior decorators.  Dr Layton then volunteered for the entry on the Society for the Promotion of the Employment Women as a result of her research on the Garrett ladies. Hence, her purchase of Timely Assistance.

The contracted article on SPEW was for 2,000 words, but Dr Layton became so engrossed in our founding society and Jessie Boucherett’s work that the resulting article was nearly 4,000 words – and was accepted in its entirety. One of the co-authors of Timely Assistance – Dr Anne Bridger – was on hand to review the article and she was so pleased with the final result that she requested it should form part of our Society’s archives at Girton College, Cambridge.

Further information on the Palgrave Encyclopaedia of female Victorian Writers can be gained on this link.

The Trinity Buoy Wharf drawing award is the UK’s most important open exhibition for drawing.  In 2020 they received 4272 entries for their annual drawing prize and we were delighted to hear that a Futures for Women beneficiary was awarded second prize.

The three paintings which caught the eye of the judges were individually entitled Pendant Alarm, Tea, and Teeth.  The pencil drawings document the artist’s role as a carer and support worker during the coronavirus pandemic, focusing on the relationships she formed with her clients. Drawn from memory while the artist travelled between shifts, the prize-winning drawings expressively capture moments of intimacy, tenderness, and companionship.

Futures for Women would like to pass on our own congratulations to the artist, who is now studying for a Masters in Art Psychotherapy.

We have recently heard from a beneficiary of one of our interest-free loans who used the funding to help her complete a masters at Cambridge University in Industrial Systems and Manufacturing Management. She even competed in the Cancer Research Boat Race against Oxford during her time at university, and her team were victorious!

Following graduation our beneficiary started working at Tesco Head office in Supply Chain. She first worked on projects optimising their ordering calculations aiming to reduce stock in store without effecting customer availability. She then moved on to working with the international stores in Hungry, Czech Republic and Slovakia, being responsible for their supply chain systems business strategy, before deciding to train for a management role.

Our beneficiary said “I would like to thank your charity for helping me on my career journey. I couldn’t have done it without charities such as yours”. We would like to pass on our best wishes for a rewarding and successful career.

Research by the University of Roehampton and the Royal Society recently found that only 20% of computing candidates for GCSE and 10% for A level Computer Science were girls.  The WISE campaign – aiming to promote women in science, engineering and technology – is part of a brand new research project to engage more girls in computing.   As part of this, they will be visiting schools in England during 2021 (when COVID-19 restrictions allow) to deliver a specific variant of their My Skills My Life programme, focused on computing, to Year 5 students.  WISE is looking to recruit 300 female role models working within Technology/Computing to register as role models and get involved with these sessions.

World-wide the technology industry is dominated by men, with women making up less than 30% of all employees.    And yet there are women taking the industry by storm, showing that it is possible to succeed in technology regardless of gender, age or cultural background.  This article by Julia Olech profiles fifty female tech pioneers who have either risen the ranks in leading tech companies or founded their own companies.

If you work in computing or technology in the UK and would like to become involved in the WISE campaign to promote the industry to Year 5 students, please visit this page.

FfW holds its first virtual AGM

The challenges presented by Covid-19 have seen all companies look to new ways of working.  And Futures for Women is no different.  Although our Secretary has always been home-based, we have now started holding our Trustee meetings via Zoom.   And on 12 September 2020 we held our first virtual AGM hosted with kind permission by our Vice-Chair, Joanna Murray.    Polly Harrar of the Sharan Project, our employability programme partner, was able to attend via Zoom to update us on their work during lockdown and let us know how the charity has adapted their delivery to support women suffering from domestic abuse.  And after the formal proceedings of the AGM had completed we gave thanks to the work of retiring Trustee, Amy McVittie, before discussing our strategy moving forward in 2021.

In 2017 Futures for Women awarded an interest-free loan to Lorraine Brown to help her with the fees associated with her course at Highgate Counselling Centre where she was studying to become a psychodynamic counsellor.  Lorraine had a passion to work with young people in a higher-education setting and, following on from a placement at LSE, we have heard that she has now secured an honorary counsellor position at Cambridge University from October 2020.

But Lorraine also had some other news for Futures for Women.  In 2018 she won a competition to be mentored by Penguin Random House for a year as part of their WriteNow scheme, which aims to launch the careers of writers from backgrounds currently under-represented in the industry.  And at the end of 2019 Lorraine secured a publishing deal with Orion Fiction here in the UK and with Penguin Random House in the USA. Her debut novel, Uncoupling, will be out in February 2021. 

Uncoupling is a modern love story that follows Hannah and Si – a couple on the same track – until their train divides on the way to a wedding.  Hannah wakes up in Paris and realises that her boyfriend (and ticket) are 300 miles away in Amsterdam.  But then she meets Leo on the station platform – and he is everything that Si isn’t.  Spending the day with Leo in Paris forces Hannah to question how well she really knows herself – and whether, sometimes, you need to go in the wrong direction to find the right path. 

Lorraine told us “I feel that my counselling studies and my writing worked very well together – the characters in my story became so much more three-dimensional as a result of my psychotherapy training, and I thought much more deeply about why people behave the way they do.  I am very excited about my counsellor placement as well as my publishing deal.  I’m not sure that I would have been able to accept my place at Highgate Counselling Centre without your support, and I will be forever grateful”.

The Trustees of Futures for Women are delighted to hear that Lorraine has secured a counsellor placement at such a prestigious university and are looking forward to the publication of Uncoupling.  We will post further information in February 2021 about the launch of the book – and will placing our own orders for a first edition!

Lorraine Brown

On 23 June 2020, Futures for Women are proudly celebrating Women in Engineering Day. This day is special to us. Women in engineering have and continue to define and shape society as we know it today. Let’s consider, for instance, the role of engineering in infrastructure. Infrastructure attracts significant investment from the UK government to fuel the economy. According to the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2016 – 2021, energy and transport infrastructure will amount to £117.4 and £88.4 billion respectively during this period. The scale of the investment importantly reflects the scale of the infrastructure projects, their duration and complexity. In these roles, engineers not only address the technical tasks, but also inform governance, engage with communities and key stakeholders, set priorities and lead teams. Women are key to each of these types of roles within engineering. However, according to the Women in Engineering Society (WES), women in engineering amount to only 12% of the engineering workforce. This means that there is much more scope for women to support the delivery of infrastructure, which can ultimately help to secure and multiply the outputs and outcomes of government’s investment. With more women in the field, the UK can better accelerate the delivery of infrastructure, from new power stations to high speed rail, whilst ensuring that growth is holistic and addresses the needs of the workforce and communities it serves.

FfW’s charitable purpose is to support women with the costs of professional and vocational training, and our trustees will shortly be considering making more grants to support those working in engineering and technology.

Photo: Unsplash/ThisisEngineering

The theme for International Women’s Day on 8 March 2020 is #EachforEqual.

Gender equality is essential for economies and communities to thrive. A gender equal world can be healthier, wealthier and more harmonious. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society and collectively, we can make change happen.

On International Women’s Day 2019 Futures for Women announced its new direction in part-funding the Sharan Project to run employability programmes in Birmingham for disadvantaged women from the south Asian community. Two programmes have already taken place and two more are planned for 2020. We look forward to continuing to work with the Sharan Project and helping to ensure that women on the programme have the opportunity to be #EachforEqual.