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Smallwood Trust - The Smallwood Trust logo and an image of a smiling mother with her young child
Last updated September 2017

Member Spotlight: Smallwood Trust

This month we feature our ACO member Smallwood Trust - a new name and strategy for the Society for the Assistance of Ladies in Reduced Circumstances. Their strategy: “Enabling women to be financially resilient”

Honouring our heritage

The Society has had to adapt to many changes over the last century, and we are now changing again to put a greater focus on helping women become financially independent. We have a new name – the Smallwood Trust – in honour of our inspirational founder, Edith Smallwood and a new strapline: “enabling women to be financially resilient”. With our new name and focus we are aiming to award around £5 million of life-changing funds to support women out of poverty in the next five years.

Edith Smallwood was an incredible woman. When she founded the Society for the Assistance of Ladies in Reduced Circumstances in 1886, she saw it as her duty to help those less fortunate than herself, and she began collecting small sums of money to benefit women who, through ill-health or old age, were unable to support themselves. From these small beginnings an endowment was created, the income from which still supports hundreds of women today.

More than 130 years later, the work of the Smallwood Trust is more relevant than ever. Research shows that disadvantaged women find it harder to remain in the labour market and are more likely to head poverty-prone households. In the words of one of the women we help, “your support helped break the unbearable isolation and fear of losing my own home and now I can go out and face the world. I am so grateful.”

New strategy

Trustees have agreed a new five-year plan to enable 7,000 additional women to build a confident, positive and secure future. The Trustees have identified three ways to maximise impact:

1. Direct funding and support for individuals

Regular grants for living expenses to help women overcome crises and where they are struggling to make ends meet. This will remain a core part of the Trust’s grant-giving. We are also piloting making grants in partnership with two local intermediary organisations, one being an incentive scheme to help women access jobs and the other to support women in or leaving the criminal justice system.

There is an increasing demand for funding. In the first seven months of 2017 more new beneficiaries were approved for funding than in all of 2016. Later this year, the Trust will also introduce a telephone helpline to provide women with access to debt advice and welfare benefits information to complement the cash grants.

2. Funding for voluntary sector organisations

Grants to organisations for projects that are developing innovative ways to help women along the employment pathway. The Trust has recently secured a substantial grant of £200,000 from the Tampon Tax Fund to support this approach.

We are currently funding 13 organisations, who together are reaching more than 1,000 women. One example of a project we are funding is a consortium of six organisations in Coventry who are developing a city-wide initiative to enable 300 women to access employment, skills and confidence building opportunities.

3. Funding for policy and research

Grants to voluntary sector organisations who are undertaking practical policy initiatives leading to improved economic and social outcomes for women. Under this theme we have awarded a grant to the Fawcett Society to enable disadvantaged women to effectively make their voices heard about the public services that affect their lives.

D’Arcy Myers, Chair of Trustees said: “The potential for growth and increased impact across all our programmes is really exciting as we team up with other like-minded organisations to enable women to escape from poverty and build their self-reliance”.

Working in partnership

As we look to substantially increase the number of beneficiaries we support, the Trustees wish to develop a collaborative approach and be able to partner with others who share similar long term goals of increasing social change for women in poverty.

Paul Carbury, CEO of the Trust said: “We have streamlined our existing processes to enable more women to access our funds and we have funded a promising set of employability projects. A key focus for us now is to evaluate the impact of ‘what works’ and help identify and support good practice so more women can benefit from Smallwood Trust funding.”

Courtney’s story

Women will always be at the heart of what we do whether they are supported through individual grants or access the funded programmes we support. Women like Courtney, who is in her early 20s and living on benefits in private rented accommodation with her two-year-old son. She has very limited money and a key goal for Courtney is to stay in her own home but, because she has fallen behind with the rent, this was becoming quite a worry. By helping her cover her day-to-day household costs, our grant enabled her to better manage her finances and stay in her own home. In Courtney’s own words “Your charity has been a life saver. Thank you."

Getting in touch

If you would like to find out more about the work of the Smallwood Trust and our history, please visit our new website or contact our Chief Executive, Paul Carbury,

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