Women of the Year founder Tony Lothian may have been a visionary but she was also an immensely practical woman. When she organised the first lunch in 1955, she saw it as a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women in all walks of life and it was later used to raise money for charitable purposes. Initially this raised funds for the Greater London Fund for the Blind, and established a fundraising tradition that has continued over the years and enabled Women of the Year to donate over £2million to various external charities. In 2002, the then Women of the Year chairman Gayle Morrison decided to take Tony’s vision one stage further and establish a charitable foundation.
The aim of the Women of the Year Foundation is to help women to fulfil their potential and become, in their own context, future Women of the Year. We do this in a tangible way by offering financial and practical support through small grants. These enable disadvantaged women both in the UK and abroad to start over and improve their lives and contribute to their communities.
Since its launch, the Foundation has given out small grants totalling over £250,000 to individual women and organisations that seek to support women, to help them bring their dreams alive and achieve their ambitions.
‘We all know that the first step in any process can be the most difficult,’ says Joan Armatrading CBE, singer, songwriter, former Women of the Year President and Patron of the Foundation. ‘The Foundation represents that important outstretched hand of encouragement’.
Our past grants
Feast With Us
Feast With Us is a food poverty charity that brings together surplus food and an army of committed volunteers to provide healthy and nutritious communal meals in homeless shelters. The Foundation’s grant supported the expansion of the service to a women’s hostel.
Freedom Kit Bags
Menstruation is one of the biggest obstacles to women being able to gain an education and earn their own living. Millions of women and girls in rural Nepal have no access to hygienic sanitary wear, using old rags and maybe straw, or nothing at all. Freedom Kit Bags include everything needed for up to two years – washable pads, pad holders, carry purse, waterproof bag for used pads, underwear, soap, washing line and pegs. The materials are sourced in Nepal and Nepali women make the pads, holders and bags bringing employment to those who need it most.
The Bike Project
An innovative solution to one of the most pressing problems facing refugees in London – the cost of transport and the impact of lack of mobility – by matching up refugees with refurbished unwanted bikes. Our grant funded a women’s programme to reflect the fact that many women refugees come from societies where cycling is discouraged or even dangerous for them, so learning to cycle is more than a practical necessity, it also represents an act of rebellion against deeply ingrained beliefs and cultural taboos.
Projects for All
The horrifying practices of female genital mutilation, breast ironing and sleeping with the dead continue to be widespread in Nigeria. The Foundation provided funds to Projects for All to support the incredible work of Gift Augustine, a trained nurse who has coordinated groups of women as community volunteers; they travel to at-risk villages to talk to the men and women about the dangers and injustices of these practices, saving the lives of girls and women on a daily basis.
Coaching Inside and Out
Coaching Inside and Out provides life coaching for people in prison and in the community. As well as reducing crime, coaching aims to create lifelong change, getting to the root of problems, beliefs and hopes to unlock potential, break old patterns of behaviour and overturn negative assumptions that stop people changing. The vast majority of clients are women who have committed offences or are at risk of doing so, and coaching helps them to change their lives by reducing the harm they do to others and themselves, reuniting with their children, taking up education, getting fit, getting jobs and starting businesses.
Generating Genius is a charity that works with students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are highly academically capable, to help them access the most selective universities. Based at University College, London, it has a particular emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects which remain male-dominated. The Foundation funded a series of weekend tech camps for girls focusing on digital enterprise skills and coding.
Swinton Lock Activity Centre
Swinton Lock Activity Centre was set up by the amazing Jayne Senior, who blew the whistle on widespread child sexual abuse in Rotherham, and provides educational, environmental and arts-based activities on two narrow boats on the South Yorkshire Canal. The Foundation’s grant funded resources for women with disabilities experiencing mental distress and/or social isolation, and victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse.
Apply for a grant
Please read our Grants Policy before completing your application.
The Women of the Year Foundation is a registered charity number 1090866