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Smallwood launches Gendered Poverty Learning Programme

Smallwood are delighted to announce that we have been awarded £490,918 in funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, to launch the Gendered Poverty Learning Programme (GPLP). This programme will enable our grant partners – all of which are women-led organisations – to tackle local systems of injustice, and collaborate to make significant change for women in their areas.

What is the Programme?

Smallwood Trust has committed £8.5 million in grants and operating support to deliver our 2022-2024 Strategic Plan. The GPLP will be a new strategic initiative that will be instrumental in supporting progress towards the goals set out in this plan:

  • Funding to pilot and help scale programmes that reduce gendered poverty
  • Supporting partners to develop a gender-lens approach
  • Flexible funding to improve social and economic outcomes for women
  •  Helping build and strengthen networks and resilient communities

To this end, the 3 main objectives of the Gendered Poverty Learning Programme are to:

  1. Provide ‘wrap-around’ support to networks of local community organisations largely run by and for women to help tackle the root causes of gendered poverty.
  2. To identify approaches and elements of good practice that can be scaled or replicated through the networks to improve social and economic outcomes for women in poverty.
  3. To help build and strengthen thriving, accessible and supportive networks for women so they can respond to and overcome future economic shocks and crises.

With our grantee partners, we will deliver the following menu of options over three years, based on the needs and direction of the organisations we fund:

  • Leadership support
  • Networks support
  • Making systemic change
  • Communications and influencing
  •  Movement building
  • Monitoring, evaluation and learning

Why do this now?

The current landscape

We place a strong emphasis on listening to and acting upon the voices of financially vulnerable women and the women’s voluntary sector. These experiences have been captured through the following research:

The women’s sector have told us through our COVID analysis that there are key structural challenges to tackling gendered poverty and as a result of this we have launched a £2.1 million place-based fund to tackle the root causes of gendered poverty.

All of this work has successfully built on previous women’s sector reports funded by Smallwood such as: The Female Face of Poverty and Life Saving, Life Changing: Funding for the Women’s Sector

Shifting power

Gendered poverty is largely explained by the unequal position of women in society which is exacerbated by caring status, ethnicity, health, age, sexuality, gender identity and disability. Therefore it is crucial that Smallwood supports social change through the lens of gender and economic inequality.

Our research also shows that women-led organisations are very aware of how local systems can make women’s poverty worse, but they do not often have the time or capacity to push for change. With support from the GPLP we aim to increase organisational capacity so our grant partners can look toward their strategic goals alongside frontline work.

Bringing it all together

The idea for a GPLP has emerged following collaboration with our grant partners through a series of feedback sessions and our experience of funding and engaging with women-led organisations through two programmes; our place-based programme and community grant partnerships.

These programmes are central to making progress towards Smallwood’s goal of ending gendered poverty. We believe there is a huge opportunity to strengthen, build and consolidate these dynamic networks through the Programme to provide a laser-eyed focus on challenging the root causes of gendered poverty.

What we will do next

At the time of publishing, a steering group comprised of Smallwood staff members has met to discuss the Programme in more detail and put together a plan of next steps. At our upcoming November meeting we aim to consolidate a timeline of support delivery for both our place-based women’s networks and community grant partners. We will also advertise for an additional staff member to support the delivery of this Programme and create a Terms of Reference to be shared amongst the steering group.


About the Smallwood Trust

The Smallwood Trust has been helping women across the UK out of poverty for 135 years. Our programmes provide grant funding and support to enable women to become financially resilient and to ensure economic systems work for them rather than against them. Half of the UK population are women – therefore our approach not only matters for individual women, enabling them to thrive economically and overcome financially stressful events, it is also critical for the UK economy. While we will continue to meet the immediate needs of women facing financial insecurity, we will also increasingly focus on tackling the systems that cause gendered poverty.

About The National Lottery Community Fund

We are the largest funder of community activity in the UK – we support people and communities to prosper and thrive.  

We’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to work closely with Government to distribute vital grants and funding from key Government programmes and initiatives.  

Our funding has a positive impact and makes a difference to people’s lives. We support projects focused on things that matter, including economic prosperity, employment, young people, mental health, loneliness and helping the UK reach net zero by 2050.  

Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.    

National Lottery players raise over £30 million each week for good causes throughout the UK. Since The National Lottery began in 1994, £43 billion has been raised for good causes. National Lottery funding has been used to support over 635,000 projects – 255 projects per postcode area. 



For further information please contact:

Emma Crump, Head of Programmes:

Rosie Learmonth, Grants Manager & Comms Lead:

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