Letter from Pauline Stewart EVOLVE President

Over the past 12 months our Chair, fellow Trustees and I have worked hard to develop a strategy to ensure the purpose of EVOLVE is carried out and met.

Together we have given careful consideration and planning to deliver our objectives, and we continue to do this by attending and holding events   fundraising that will be inspiring and imaginative.  Our itinerary for the next 2 years is built on a framework aligned to our aim and objectives and it is imperative that we remain focused on the outcomes to achieve the desired results.

EVOLVE was created from an inspiring initiative by Mark West, the then CEO of Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation (BLCF) to set up a fund dedicated to women. In 2018 EVOLVE was formally launched by three BLCF Trustees: Viviane Vayssieres, Joan Bailey and myself. The Mark West Fund had grown to £53,000.

In 2022 EVOLVE Trustees celebrated International Women’s Day, with the launch of our first Bursary and with the support and dedication of Karen Perkins BLCF Chief Executive, we awarded £16,000 to women looking to restrain or upskill.

Since that time the initiative has grown in strength, with some 160 members. we are now regularly in conversation with over 500 women.

Everyone who has contributed over the years has played a part to give value to our cause.  It has not been easy.  The drive of our Chair Viviane Vayssieres along with committed Trustees sees us entering Q2 of 2023, invigorated with the aim to grow stronger and bolder.  We know we cannot rest on our laurels and we are making steady progress.   As with any business one needs time to reflect, review and refocus with a desire to take the necessary action to bring about difference and purpose to those women who need our help.

Our showcase event took place on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2023 at Woburn Safari Lodge, where we were joined by amazing speakers, some via Vimeos from around the world, connecting ‘Live’ with friends in New York who attended the Commission on the Status of Women Conference.  Young and inspirational women who had overcome life challenges and entertained by Bedford Academy’s performing arts, while some our 2022 grantees, shared with us how the bursary had allowed them life changing experiences for the better.

EVOLVE travelled the width and breadth of the county to attend many events last year, such as AfroFest, Nigeria Independence Day, Diwali, the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce Winter Reception, CaribAfrique and recently the 3 Counties Expo at Venue 360 in Luton on the 22 March 2023.

 Every event helped raise awareness of EVOLVE core mission, ensuring that people within all Communities know who we are and how we can assist those who need a bit of extra support.

We are soon to launch our second bursary providing vital grants to support women starting up in business.

The future is bright and we are planning various events and building on some fabulous ideas.  Please bear with us as we work towards putting an itinerary together.  Arranging future workshops and other activities to service current members and attract new ones so that we can deliver more philanthropic project and grow the membership.

I have always believed that it doesn’t matter how much or how little we do.  It matters that we do it. 


President EVOLVE

For more information about EVOLVE please contact Executive Administrator

Enterprise House, Wrest Park, Silsoe, Beds, MK45 4HS


[email protected]

EVOLVE is an initiative from the Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation