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.

In 2016 Madison Marshall was successful in being awarded a highly competitive interest-free loan from Futures for Women which helped her to complete her PhD in Linguistics at the University of Sheffield.  Madison is now working as a Researcher in English Language and English Literature at the University of Leeds, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through the White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities 

Futures for Women is always keen to hear from ex-beneficiaries and we were delighted to receive an update from Madison on her career since we last met her. Madison reports “I am currently the recipient of a highly competitive Arts and Humanities Research Council award at the University of Leeds. As well as teaching undergraduate students, I participate fully in the numerous activities associated with academic life (conferences, research presentations, etc.). However, my main focus at present is increasing my research profile and, to that end, I have a number of publications both planned and in preparation. My five-year publication plan includes a monograph (which is a biographical account of a well-known father and daughter in the Darwin-Wedgwood circle), and an edited volume of letters on Victorian sisterhood (which explores the relationship between three women through their correspondence).”

If you are an ex-beneficiary of an interest-free loan from us please get in touch and let us know how your own career is progressing. 

 

A second Sharan Project employability programme, part-funded by Futures for Women, took place in Birmingham in December 2019.   Seven disadvantaged women, who had been subject to domestic abuse or persecution, successfully completed a four-week skills-based course which helped them overcome barriers and challenges they may be facing in securing employment.   Partner organisation Go-Train delivered the skills training and Smart Works gave assistance with interview preparation and provided a capsule working wardrobe for women who had secured their first role.  And in addition to becoming more prepared for employment the women met a new network of friends who could offer them on-going support.

Futures for Women Secretary, Jane Hampson, attended the course celebration event and helped to present certificates to the women who had successfully graduated.  A representative from the Muslim Women’s Network (MWNUK) also attended the celebration event and offered an opportunity for the women to volunteer with the charity to gain work experience. In addition they were invited to apply for a paid administrative role currently being advertised. 

Futures for Women will be part-funding two further employability programmes in 2020. 

 

We were delighted to hear that former FfW beneficiary Zoe Hooton, who is now working as an architect director, has been appointed as a professional studies adviser for students completing their chartership (Part 3). She is also part of a charity which teaches teenagers about architecture.

Zoe has also contributed to the Royal Institute of British Architecture Book ‘Defining Contemporary Professionalism’ co edited by the RIBA President Alan Jones.

We would like to offer our congratulations to Zoe on these fantastic achievements!

We have just heard that an ex-beneficiary of a FfW interest-free loan has recently passed her PhD viva. She has been working on issues surrounding violence against women and mental health in India.

The ex-beneficiary said “Futures for Women supported me during my MSc in 2012 which directly led to my being able to pursue the PhD, so thank you for your support!”

It is always good to hear from ex-beneficiaries, so if you received an interest-free loan from Futures for Women please keep in touch and let us know how your career is progressing.

Following the success of the first Sharan Project Employability Programme, part-funded by Futures for Women, a second programme will start in Birmingham on 11 November 2019.

The programmes are aimed at women from the South Asian community who have experienced persecution, domestic violence, forced marriage, honour based abuse and other forms of cultural conflict.   The courses give the women the skills and confidence to seek paid employment and achieve some financial independence.  This second course will equip the women with a City and Guilds qualification in Customer Care and independent living with optional e-qualifications in food safety, personal health and wellbeing and equality and diversity, delivered by project partner Go-Train.   The women are also supported with interview coaching and receive a style makeover provided by Smart Works.   The programmes have child-friendly hours and all participants are able to claim travel vouchers. 

Polly Harrar from The Sharan Project said “This second course allows participants to extend and secure more qualifications to become even more work ready and confident”.

The programme will conclude on 6 December with a celebration event to recognise the participants’ achievements.

We were delighted to receive this message from a former beneficiary of one of our interest-free loans:

“In 2017 I graduated with a Distinction in the MRes programme in Translational Cancer Medicine at King’s College London. My research focused on the cross-talk between immune cells within the tumour microenvironment.   I am currently in the second year of my DPhil in Oncology at the University of Oxford. My project involves investigating the role of DNA damage repair proteins and exploring approaches to targeting tumours that lack these proteins. I plan to continue with a career in cancer research and aspire to make an impact to a field that I feel so passionately about. I would like to express my gratitude to the Trustees at Futures for Women. The award was of unquestionable benefit to enabling the completion of the MRes programme which inevitably led to a successful DPhil application. “

May the Trustees of Futures for Women wish you every success with your DPhil and eventual career in cancer research. 

Futures for Women welcomed a new Chair of Trustees in June 2019 when Rosie Parr took over the position from Joanna Murray.

Rosie, who runs her own law firm that specialises in advising charities, has been a Trustee for 9 years.   Commenting on her appointment Rosie said:

“This year marks the 160th anniversary of the foundation of our charity and I am very proud to become its Chair at this exciting time in our history when we have adopted a new strategy to support the education and training of women. Our grant to The Sharan Project in March, to fund its two-year programme in Birmingham to support women from South Asian communities into work, is our first step in partnering with other women’s organisations, and our grants will continue the mission of our founder Jessie Boucherett to help women into employment so that they can achieve economic independence. I look forward to developing our project programmes with my co-trustees during my tenure as Chair, to help disadvantaged women in our society to find the rewarding and fulfilling employment which is so vital to the security and well-being of them and their families”.

Joanna Murray has assumed the role of Vice-Chair after 4 years in the role of  Chair.

2019 AGM

Our 2019 AGM, chaired by Lady Appleyard, was an important opportunity for members to hear all about the Sharan Project employability programme which is being part-funded by Futures for Women in 2019 and 2020.

Sharan Project founder, Polly Harrar, and Trustee Jeff Prescott, joined the meeting to give us an update on the first programme which has just completed in Birmingham.  We heard all about the disadvantaged women from the south Asian community whose lives are being turned around by the support they have received following their attendance at the programme.  As well as receiving help with writing their CVs, interview training and an interview wardrobe the women have also grown in confidence and made new friends.  A second programme will run later this year to repeat the success of the first.

 

Left to Right: Polly Harrar (Sharan Project), Rosie Parr and Jane Hampson (Futures for Women), Francesca McDowell (Breaking the Silence) and Ann Powell (Smart Works)

Futures for Women’s trustee Rosie Parr and secretary Jane Hampson visited Birmingham in May for an inspiring introduction to the Sharan Project’s employability programme, which Futures for Women are part-funding over the next two years.

The Sharan Project provides a two-week course in conjunction with the training provider ‘Go Train’, designed to help the women participants find employment. These women, from South Asian communities in the city, have experienced domestic violence, forced marriages or other abuse. Employment will help to reduce the risk of harm to them, and the programme is also supported by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.

At this induction day for the project’s first group of seven women, the tutors from Go Train outlined the course tuition in communication, IT and presentation skills, Sharan’s director Polly Harrar gave a confidence-building talk, stressing the focus on the personal aptitude and aspirations of each of the women, without putting them under any pressure. Another charity partner on the Sharan programme is Smart Works (whose patron is the Duchess of Sussex), and their local manager Ann Powell really motivated the group by explaining how her team would offer a full set of smart outfits and a makeover to each participant, plus interview coaching to help each woman achieve her employment goals.

It was very exciting for Rosie and Jane to meet the programme’s first recruits and to see the development of Futures for Women’s new strategy through the funding of the Sharan Project, which aims to help 20 vulnerable women in Birmingham into work this year, and another 20 next year.

The launch was also attended by Francesca McDowell from the social enterprise, Breaking the Silence UK, which supports women who have experienced domestic abuse, forced marriages and human trafficking.

Futures for Women – the Sharan Project – Smart Works – Breaking the Silence UK – these are four women’s charities working together to support disadvantaged women and to help them achieve fulfilled working lives.

Futures for Women is seeking more funding to enable us to collaborate with other UK charities to provide educational and training opportunities for women. If you would like to support our charity to further this work, you can give via the ‘Donate ‘page on this website.