2018 was an exciting year
for the Smallwood Trust

Our mission is to enable women to become financially resilient by equipping them with the skills they need to secure a confident financial future.

Our work is more relevant than ever. Today in the UK, a fifth of all women – around 5.1 million – live in poverty.

In 2018 we continued to significantly increase the number of beneficiaries we supported to 2,428, up from 1,470 in 2017.

Our full 2018 impact data is summarised in this report and we hope you enjoy reading more about our journey so far.

A message from our trustees


Edith Smallwood was an incredible woman. When she witnessed poverty devastating women’s lives around her, she saw it as her duty to help. She founded The Society for the Assistance of Ladies in Reduced Circumstances in 1886 and by 1952, her Majesty the Queen had become a patron of the Society. Now we are known as The Smallwood Trust, and the endowment Edith Smallwood created is still supporting women today.

Our work is more relevant than ever. Today, poverty is gendered. Women are more likely to live in poverty than men. A fifth of women – around 5.1 million – live in poverty in the UK, compared to 4.4 million men. The labour market, the design of social security, women’s cultural roles within the family, ethnicity, health, age and disability all contribute to women’s vulnerability to poverty.

As trustees, we wish the board to reflect our mission and values as a charity working with women. We promote diversity, capability and flexibility as a way of strengthening the governance of the Trust, and as such have agreed a portfolio model of leadership. We aim to make the best use of our trustees’ skills and availability across a range of leadership functions. This provides trustees with opportunities to share and develop leadership responsibilities. Our shared role is to ensure our funding stays relevant to women’s needs.

Together we are working to free women from financial vulnerability and increase their social and emotional wellbeing. On the journey we will listen to women on low incomes and include their views and perspectives in all our planning. Our work will be successful if more women become financially resilient. We want to ensure women’s civil society organisations are robust and that existing systems and structures support women out of financial exclusion.

D'Arcy Myers, Chair ; Maureen Margerie, Deputy Chair; Rachael Bailey, Trustee; Catherine Hine, Trustee; Maria Toman, Trustee

Civil society organisations provide vital services relevant to women’s needs. Our funding enables organisations to access the information, skills and resources required to provide support for financially vulnerable women.

We provided 33 grants in 2018 which helped…

Our funding was targeted in areas of deprivation including the North of England, Midlands, coastal regions and rural communities UK wide.

Groups of women we are reaching

Partners we were working with in 2018

Map of project partners 

  Lizzie and Sally's Story

When single-parent Lizzie was made redundant from her job at a pub, her life began to spiral out of control, putting Lizzie and her 7-year-old daughter Sally at risk of losing everything. After becoming unemployed, Lizzie’s mum paid for her and Sally to visit family abroad during the school summer holidays. However, she returned to the devastating news that, as she had been out of the country three days longer than is permitted, her Housing Benefit had been cancelled with the council refusing to backdate it. Her private landlord then sought possession of the home she had rented for over 19 years. Facing certain homelessness, Lizzie’s mental health deteriorated to such an extent that she contemplated suicide. Hope came when Lizzie was referred to InSpire, a Walworth based project funded by the Smallwood Trust. Working with the local MP and Cabinet Member for Housing, InSpire pursued Lizzie’s landlord to postpone the Possession Hearing. Three months of negotiations with the council resulted in the awarding of several discretionary housing payments clearing some, but not all, of the rent arrears. Lizzie was left with a week to pay the outstanding money. InSpire consulted Smallwood about this urgent case and using the Trust’s funds, the balance of rent arrears were paid to secure Lizzie and Sally’s future. As a result, Lizzie's mental health has improved significantly and she has been able to help other women within the community who face similar issues. She has since returned to work, knowing she has the support her and her daughter deserve. Lizzie’s story illustrates how women are disproportionately affected by low wages, insecure jobs and benefit sanctions and the vital work of organisations like InSpire in enabling women to overcome these barriers and increase their financial resilience.


Breaking Down Barriers:
Coventry Women's Partnership

In 2017 the Smallwood Trust began funding a three year partnership between five frontline Women's Organisations and a research partner in Coventry. The Coventry Women's Partnership brings together organisations to ensure women in the city feel supported in safe environments, are empowered and believed.

The project, led by Foleshill Women's Training, aims to break down barriers in access to crucial services and to make support easier. The partnership involves FWT, Coventry Haven Women's Aid, CRASAC, Coventry Law Centre, Kairos WWT and the Women's Budget Group.

Through referrals across the partnership, the project is working with women who need support in any of the following areas

• Education, Training and Routes to Employment
• Confidence Building
• Free Legal Advice including Debt Advice
• Health & Wellbeing Support & Easier Access to Services
• Rape & Sexual Abuse, Accessing Therapeutic Support and Advocacy
• Domestic Violence and Abuse (all forms)
• Pathways to Exiting Prostitution, Homelessness & Drug Addiction
• Staying Safe
• Language Support
• Access to Childcare

In 2018 over 400 were supported through the service. The Women's Budget Group will evaluate this innovative project for women in the city and produce a series of policy briefings drawing on the experiences of women supported through the programme.

In 2018 the Trust funded a range of policy initiatives that aligned with our mission. These included a set of research reports by the Women’s Budget Group, a ‘Making Devolution Work for Women’ project with the Fawcett Society and we hosted a roundtable with the Bank of England Chief Economist, Andy Haldane

“I spent a fabulous day visiting two of the charities supported by the Smallwood Trust – InSpire and Working Chance. It was an inspiration to hear about the tremendous and important work they are doing to support women in their lives and into employment. By transforming women’s lives for the better, the work of the Trust and its charities is supporting the economy and wider society.”
Chief Economist at the Bank of England, Andy Haldane

Please click below to read the 2018 reports from the Women’s Budget Group:
The Female Face of Poverty: Examining the cause and consequence of economic deprivation for women

Life-Changing and Life Saving: Funding for the women’s sector