Thank you to the Women’s Centenary Grant

Friday 22 February 2019

In 2018 Young Women’s Trust (YWT) received funding from the Government Equalities Office Women’s Centenary Grant scheme to carry out lots of activities to empower young women to advocate for change, like the suffragettes did over 100 years ago.

Katie Sanderson, a young mum from Newcastle and member of YWT’s Advisory Panel took part in several of these opportunities – here’s what she gained. 

KatieIn 2018 I attended two advisory panel residential weekends in May and November. At residential weekends we take part in workshops to share our experiences of living on low or no pay and get training to help us speak out too. I really enjoyed the workshop that was run by my fellow panel members about the history of women. I learnt so much about voting and although I have always voted I now know just how important it is for me to vote for my voice to be heard like the suffragettes did 100 years ago.

I also enjoyed the workshop where we began creating our manifesto for change. We all voted on our biggest barriers to work and these will be included in the manifesto. Barriers like childcare, flexible working and mental health support at work. These are important to address as they are a huge part of young women’s lives and more needs to be done to address these so it’s easier for women to get into work. 

I absolutely love residentials! I always leave them feeling so empowered. I have made some great friendships and I love meeting the new faces at each residential. I particularly love how YWT always provide on-site childcare meaning that I can bring my 2-year-old son along with me. He loves travelling on the train, it’s like a little holiday to him, and he loves playing with the other children. It’s just as much fun for him as it is for me! 

I also attended media and blogging training to build my confidence to speak out more. At first I was worried about the media training because at the end we had to record ourselves on camera – which I hate! Surprisingly, I loved the session and even had the confidence to speak on camera. I also learnt about ‘bridging phrases’, which are phrases you can use in a media interview if I don’t want to answer a question. I found these useful because not knowing how to answer a question was a concern of mine. 

The blogging training was so much fun! I have always been interested in writing a blog but had no idea where to start. The training was so useful, and by the end of the session I’d written the first draft of my very first blog for Young Women’s Trust! This training has made me more confident when taking up these opportunities and speaking out about my experiences of age discrimination and other barriers to work as a young mother.  

In June I had the opportunity to meet the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom (MP). At first, I was apprehensive about the meeting as I’d never been inside parliament and was worried about what to say, but thanks to the media training I used a ‘message house’ to write down the key points I wanted to share and used this to prompt me during the meeting. I managed to get all my points across which I was really pleased about.

It’s so important to share our experiences with people in parliament as sometimes they are unaware of the issues we face. For example, Andrea thought that job centres were effective in helping young women get back into work, yet when she listened to our experiences, she learnt that this wasn’t necessarily the case and now knows what needs to happen to improve practice. 

Alison ThewlissI felt really empowered after meeting Andrea that in July I visited Parliament again as part of YWT’s Fair Wages for All Ages campaign. I have personal experience of being paid unfairly and struggling to make ends meet as a young apprentice, so I wanted to be there to share my experience and make sure lots of MP’s were in support of the campaign.

All of the training and opportunities I was able to take part in throughout the year gave me the confidence to speak to MPs and journalists at this event. I also took over YWT’s Instagram account on the day to give other young women an insight into behind the scenes of a campaign. 

Thank you to the Government Equalities Office Women’s Centenary Grant for providing me and hundreds of other young women with the opportunity to gain new skills and confidence so that we can continue the fight for gender equality!