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.

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.