Place-based change: Coventry Women’s Partnership

In 2018, Smallwood Trust funded the Coventry Women’s Partnership (CWP) to pilot a new place-based strategy which aims to support local networks of women’s organisations to help change the systems that cause women’s poverty in their area.

The initial three-year project, that we’re delighted to have re-funded for a further three years, is led by Foleshill Women’s Training (FWT) and involves five organisations in Coventry (Coventry Haven Women’s Aid, Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC), Central England Law Centre Coventry and Kairos WWT) to ensure women in the city feel supported in safe environments, empowered, and believed. It also aims to break down barriers for women in accessing crucial services and make engaging with support easier.

Through referrals across the partnership, women have had access to support in areas such as free legal advice, health and wellbeing, sexual and domestic abuse, housing and refuge, accessing education, employment and childcare to name a few.

Faye Pettitt, manager of Coventry Women’s Partnership, said: “Smallwood’s support has been life-changing as we’ve seen women whose lives are completely different even after just 6 months of engagement with us. The partnership means that women have access to information at a time when they are ready to receive it and they can also have that sense of community with other women by coming to our holistic group work sessions.”

In the first three years the partnership set out to help 300 women but in fact supported more than 800. It has also received international recognition for its contribution to the publication of six reports by The Women’s Budget Group on the impact of the project on the individuals and communities it supported.

Faye added: “It’s great to see how many women we’ve helped but it also reflects the structural challenges we need to overcome in order to end such demand for specialised women’s services in the first place.”

Claire Stern, from Central England Law Centre Coventry, said: “The partnership has enabled us to provide a gold standard service for women’s support services as it allows a woman to have her needs assessed completely across the whole welfare rights spectrum, instead of having to repeat all their sensitive information to each of our different teams. Also, without this funding from Smallwood we wouldn’t be able to do our Domestic Abuse immigration work enabling us to unlock support for women in Coventry trapped in abusive relationships due to their immigration status.”

The continuation funding sees CWP awarded £600k from Smallwood’s £2.1m match in our partnership with DCMS’s Community Match Challenge. You can read more about the grants made so far in the first phase of the fund here. The Women’s Sector Resilience Fund Phase 2 will allocate the remaining £1.5m and will be launched imminently.

Over the next three years, the partnership will deepen its support for women in Coventry with each partner having outlined their learning outcomes and new objectives going forward. Key objectives include keeping the model sustainable and continuing to highlight the systemic challenges facing women in poverty. Longer term aims of the partnership are to work closer with Coventry’s female MPs and other key strategic stakeholders to support longer term change in Coventry.

Faye concluded: “Coventry Women’s Partnership has been such a valuable asset to have not just for local women but in learning with our partners how to best tackle gendered poverty. This project has developed so quickly but in a joined up way and I believe the continuation of it will make us go from strength to strength.”

Emma Crump, Head of Evaluation at the Smallwood Trust said, “We are delighted to continue our support for the Coventry Women’s Partnership which has shown just how effective place-based partnerships can be in tackling gendered poverty.”

If you would like more information on the Coventry Women’s Partnership or to support them in any way then please contact Faye Pettitt at or visit

More details on The Women’s Sector Resilience Fund Phase 2 will be added to our website soon.

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