Both organisations will use the funding to further develop further their applications for a full grant of up to £1.8m, working within communities to co-produce the projects with girls and young women in the areas where they want to work.

The programme is being jointly funded by Spirit with the #iwill fund, contributing equally to a £2 million grant that will enable girls and young women to change their communities for the benefit of other girls and the wider community. The purpose of this grant is to address the worryingly low levels of wellbeing amongst young women and girls in the UK.

The #iwill fund, launched in November 2016, supports the aims of the UK-wide #iwill campaign to increase the number of young people taking part in social action – activities such as campaigning, fundraising and volunteering, which make a positive difference to communities while developing young people’s skills.

“We are delighted to mark the centenary of female suffrage in the UK with the announcement of two new development grants, which will empower and inspire girls and young women to make social change in some of the country’s most deprived and disadvantaged areas,” said Debbie Lye, Spirit of 2012 Chief Executive. “We’re excited to see the outcomes of both projects, and look forward to working with our new partners to deliver a legacy of which the suffragists would be proud.”

The first of the two awards was made to the National Youth Agency and Platform Thirty1 for their Fire and Wire project, which works with girls and young women in former mining communities. They are taught the basics of neuroscience, developing an understanding of how their brains work and how best they can utilise their physiology and psychology. The project also equips participants with leadership and creative skills, helping them develop their own projects for change at both an individual and community level.

“Every girl should know their worth and that they are valued for their individuality,” said Katy Fielding, Assistant Director of Operations, National Youth Agency. “Our Fire and Wire project will support practitioners to enable young women to belong, develop and thrive in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the UK and we are extremely excited to get started.”

The other award was made to UK Youth who will work with the British Red Cross and Young Women’s Trust to create social action opportunities for disadvantaged young women and girls. The programme will deliver face-to-face masterclasses covering issues on individual rights and resilience, and then enable young people to take part in the British Red Cross’ volunteering opportunities, which many of them wouldn’t normally engage with.

Patrick Shaw-Brown, Director of National Programmes at UK Youth said: “Young women and girls are most vulnerable to feeling low self-worth and self-esteem in their early and final years of secondary school. We hope to unlock new opportunities, aspirational roles models and crucial support to enable these young girls and women to build bright futures, while providing a double benefit to their local community through social action projects.”

Further information

#iwill –

Big Lottery Fund –