With funding from the Smallwood Trust we are working in partnership with women’s organisations in Coventry to develop and evaluate a 3-year pilot programme (2018-2021) to improve economic outcomes for women by providing joined up front line support.

Our partners are Foleshill Women’s Training, Kairos WWT, CRASAC and Coventry Haven Women’s Aid. Together, we will deliver a holistic programme of support aimed at improving women’s financial security. The project will enable us to strengthen and embed services and referral pathways for women to access skills training, confidence building, support into employment and self-employment, support with sexual and domestic violence and abuse and advice and advocacy with benefits, housing, debt and other advice issues. The programme is women-only and specifically targeted at hard to reach and isolated women across Coventry, including BME women.

The Women’s Budget Group (WBG) is running an on-going programme of action research to identify the barriers to financial security facing the women on the programme and the national and local policy solutions to help overcome them. WBG is using a Social Return on Investment (SROI) framework for ongoing monitoring of the outcomes of the project over the three-year period. The results of the SROI will inform the on-going development of the project and future work to improve women’s financial security in Coventry and across the UK. The SROI will enable WBG to calculate the value to multiple stakeholders, including the State, of rolling out the pilot, should it be successfully, nationally.

Central England Law Centre has a part time dedicated adviser who will take on legal casework for the women worked with on the project. We will be able to deal with problems that relate to welfare benefits, debt, housing, immigration, employment rights, domestic violence and community care: all issues that present a potential barrier to financial security. At the core of our work with the women is our legal expertise, and we adopt an approach that is not simply about using this to solve problems but includes assistance in building their capacity to cope independently with day to day management of some of these issues. Our aim is to make women stronger and more capable.

In addition, in collaboration with our partners, we are offering accessible and informal learning opportunities. Our aim is to help women build their confidence by building their knowledge of legal rights and to build the skills and knowledge they need:

  • to successfully navigate the benefits system;
  • to manage money and to build financial resilience into their day to day living;
  • to be confident to access public services to get the help they need;
  • to deal confidently with issues like renting a home or rights at work; and
  • to understand their family rights are if they are affected by domestic violence.