In this week’s blog Suzi Copland, Director of Services, shares how we set up our Emergency Fund in record timing, to help support young women through the coronavirus crisis.
In March 2020 the UK went into lockdown as a result of rapidly rising cases of coronavirus. At Young Women’s Trust we knew that coronavirus would lead to enormous pressure on people who were already vulnerable, with over a million young women struggling to live on low or no pay we were very concerned about the financial and emotional impact on them.
What lockdown meant for young women
We know that young women
- Are more likely to be in low paid jobs and precarious, unprotected contracts
- Are more likely to work in the sectors that were being shut down because of coronavirus
- Take on a lot of responsibility for unpaid work like caring for children or family members and that this would be even harder as a result of lockdown
- So, we decided to help and set up an Emergency Fund to distribute money quickly to those young women who needed it most.
Setting up the Emergency Fund
We worked fast and by April were in a position to start giving relief payments to young women. We developed robust but simple processes which involved staff members at partner charities applying for money on behalf of young women they were working with. We knew that our fund would be limited and we didn’t want to set up a system which raised hopes of young women and then disappointed them. So, we worked with partner charities and allocated a number of referrals to their teams.
We developed eligibility criteria to ensure that those young women who needed financial support most were benefiting. We prioritised working with charities supporting women experiencing domestic violence because we understood that lockdown would be particularly challenging for young women living in unsafe spaces. We also prioritised working with charities supporting Black women and women from ethnic minorities because we know that Covid-19 has a disproportionate impact on BAME communities.
The fund was designed to provide emergency payments to help young women buy food and other essential items at a highly challenging time. Thanks to incredible generosity from people donating and hard work from our fundraising team, we exceeded our targets and raised over £200,000. This allowed us to take on more referral partners and reach even more young women.
Whilst we didn’t know how long lockdown would last when it began in March 2020 it is now very apparent that the impact of coronavirus for young women is ongoing. Our Emergency Fund is likely to last until the end of March 2021, so that’s a whole year of providing financial support to young women when they need it most. We’ve also built great relationships with the charity partners who have referred to the fund as well as the individual women who have benefited. After this success we are now working together to think through what our next support service could look like.
You can help us to support young women experiencing economic injustice by donating to help us continue our work.