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.

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

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.

Ascension through artefact

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!