The core purpose of EVOLVE is to pursue and address the needs and local issues regarding gender inequality and social injustice against women. A female driven space that provides intelligent and purposeful conversations leading to defined actions and a strong focus on identifying the appropriate provision of resources required for voluntary women organisations.
Our collaborative work recognises the increased potential in harnessing the skills, dynamism and expertise of local women to collectively address concerns and challenges for women in the Bedfordshire Community.
What are the problems?
We recognise that the social and economic context within which women are placed contain structures and systems which disproportionately adversely affect women. They have been the hardest hit by the recession. The impact of austerity and spending cuts continue to leave women facing a ‘triple jeopardy’ of cuts to jobs, benefits and vital services.
Where are the solutions?
For many decades a vibrant and committed community of women’s organisations – the ‘women’s sector’ – has helped to secure greater equality for women. These organisations have helped vulnerable women to develop the skills, confidence and support they need to make positive changes in their lives. And they have campaigned to change the underlying structural factors that stand in the way of women’s equality.
The Rosa Report found that 60% of women’s organisations have struggled to maintain their income over the last five years; two thirds of these have seen their income decrease, three have had to close as a result; three quarters said that their income does not cover the full cost of providing a service, We need to ensure that gender is on the agenda; to raise awareness of the need for, and value of women’s organisations.
The situation is becoming critical. We risk losing the wealth of experience, expertise and understanding of women’s needs that these organisations have built up, the costs will be borne by all of us, but especially by the most vulnerable.
How will EVOLVE help this situation?
Using a targeted approach, we aim to lift those organisations in Bedfordshire which support women facing challenging times.
As well as holding events to highlight the issue of gender inequality and other women related issues, we actively raise funds for organisations and charities which directly support women, through the Mark West Fund for Women and the launch of our Women Bursary Fund in March 2022.
EVOLVE seeks collaborative women who want to be part of a strategic and collective movement to create a practical and apolitical movement that will deliver positive changes with a long-term positive legacy, here in Bedfordshire. Join us via the membership form here.
Women are stronger together!
Impact & Case Study
Evolve has been set up to raise funds for women’s groups in Bedfordshire and over the last 4 years we have distributed over £125,000 to local women’s projects through the Mark West Fund and the Tampon Tax.
Azalea established in 2008, based in Luton. Supports women trapped in/or vulnerable to sexual exploitation; poverty, alcohol, and drug use. Its services meet physical, emotional and spiritual needs, to enable these women to build new lives away from sexual exploitation, violence, addiction, and poverty. Azalea provides: Street outreach to women selling sex, providing food, basic goods, support and helps where needed; signposting to other services either at Azalea or externally.
The King’s Arms Project
The King’s Arms Project established in 2011 as a homeless charity in Bedford. The money from the MWF will support vulnerable women in Bedford. This will include rough sleepers, the homeless, clients struggling with addictions, people escaping from abusive relationships, ex-offenders, the unemployed, and people with no recourse to public funds and refugees.
The Hope Programme
The Hope Programme established in 1985 as Luton Rape Crisis Centre, in 2012 they expanded across Bedfordshire, and became the Hope Programme. Supports victims of rape and sexual violence in Bedfordshire to enable them to cope and recover as far as possible from the immediate impact and aftermath of abuse.
Families First Bedfordshire targeted service working with families who have experienced domestic abuse, parental substance misuse and/or parental mental ill health. With money from MWF they intend to: focus on women and children who have experienced trauma, often the result of domestic abuse or substance use. They will use the funding to deliver yoga meditation, mindfulness, and yoga. They will deliver 9 courses for up to 10 women on each course. Each course will last 4 weeks and will be in locations accessible for different communities. They will also offer the programme to other organisations, engaging 90 beneficiaries
BLCF set up a panel of local experts within women’s community work who made the final decisions as to who should be awarded funding but the level of need and the remarkable quality of work being carried out, was evident from the outset. These, then are the motivating factors to ensure that this fund is sustained by building a direct link with Evolve. The advantage to donors and female philanthropists who wish to donate is that there is an established and effective fund carrying out targeted work in the local community on issues they care about. In addition, we have the expertise and grantmaking skills to easily demonstrate the difference and impact, their donations are making.
For further information: Please contact [email protected]
Latest Funding for Women
On the 7th March 2022, to mark International Women’s day, EVOLVE, supported by BLCF, launched our first Women’s Bursary at our ‘Women in Conversation with Women’ launch event at BLCF’s offices at Capability House, Wrest Park, Silsoe.
This bursary was established to help support women, from Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire, and Luton, to achieve their full potential . It aims to help improve women’s lives, while educating the entire community about the benefits to society when the potential of women is realised as well as addressing issues of inequality felt most strongly by women after the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
Criteria and application forms for the fund can be found under the Grants section on the website. EVOLVE are keen to grow this fund into an annual award which is only possible with the help of its membership. If you would like to support the fund by becoming a member, please do get in touch [email protected] or Join us via the membership form here.
‘I couldn’t have done it without you’
Alex shares her inspirational story about how EVOLVE, an initiative from BLCF who provide ongoing help & support throughout her personal journey.
Read Alex’s story here.