How we worked together to create the Emergency Fund

By Jo, Women's Aid Federation of England , Rehaila, Women's Aid Federation of England • 1 July 2021

Rehaila Sharif and Jo Costello, Interim Heads of Membership from Women’s Aid Federation of England, explain how we worked together to make the Young Women’s Trust Emergency Fund happen.

When the Young Women’s Trust approached Women’s Aid Federation of England to be a joint partner (alongside the Women’s Resource Centre) to help distribute the funds they had raised to young women, we didn’t hesitate to get involved.

Young women are often at the sharp end of financial hardship. They often

  • Have caring responsibilities
  • Are entitled to a lower level of housing benefit
  • Are in insecure, low paid or zero-hours, contract work

The aim of the Emergency Fund was to address the imbalance of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It provided a cash payment directly to a young women’s bank account or in cash through a local Women’s Aid service if she didn’t have access to a bank account.  The payment could be used towards food and other essential items to go some way towards making life easier for young women and relieve some of the unequal impact of the pandemic.

Working fast to set up the fund

We know many of our members support women who are destitute, this is a particularly significant issue for women who are denied recourse to public funds due to their immigration status. This is when a person does not have access to social housing, homelessness assistance and most welfare benefits.

The shame associated with financial crisis sits heavily on women. Being unable to buy sanitary products or essential items for their children, having to use food banks or getting into debt is a regular occurrence. We wanted to address this critical need for young women as part of this project.

We started to help young women apply for the fund in April 2020.  Young Women’s Trust worked fast and closely with us to ensure that the process was simple for our members. They included clear guidance for applications and a step-by-step guide to ensure that we could distribute the funds quickly. This also allowed us to carry out ongoing analysis about which young women were benefitting from this fund, to ensure we were meeting the needs of the most marginalised women.

How the fund helped

We allocated £114,750 to 656 young women, helping to lift the shame attached to financial crisis and reduce the long-term risk of serious debt.

A fitting summary of this project was expressed by one of our members who participated in the project and distributed a significant amount of funding to young women using their service

We cannot tell you how much of a difference this fund made to young women living in our refuge. It gave them dignity, ensured they felt cared for and allowed them some choices – something that so many of them have had removed due to the abuse they have been subjected to. Thank you to Young Women’s Trust, Women’s Aid Federation of England and the donors who made this possible.

Thank you to the Young Women’s Trust, Women’s Aid members, donors and the young women who had the courage to accept this financial support.

We are continuing to support young women through the pandemic, with our Work It Out service and campaigning to keep the benefit uplift.

If you are able to, you can donate to support our work.