NORTH West charity WeMindTheGap has received £1.1 million of National Lottery funding from The National Lottery Community Fund (formerly Big Lottery), to increase opportunities for women in Wales and the North West.
The charity, which has been running since 2014, launched in Liverpool last year with the help of the Mayor’s Fund. It has previously run successful traineeships for young women in Wrexham and Flintshire, and earlier this month also launched in Manchester.
This grant, from the largest funder of community activity in the UK, means that the charity can now grow its core team to set up 16 traineeships in different communities across the country, with one now in Liverpool. By 2023, the charity will provide six months’ employment for 160 trainees in 16 different communities, sustain continued support for over 450 graduate trainees as they make their way in the world, work with over 140 local employers and 100 sessional workers and coaches, and create an additional 40 jobs.
WeMindTheGap Founder and Chair, Rachel Clacher, is a high-profile businesswoman and is co-founder of award-winning outsourced communications company Moneypenny. “We saw a real need to address social mobility in our community, and we applied the same ethos that Moneypenny was founded on, to focus on helping young people in need,” said Rachel.
“We strongly believe in doing the right thing, treating people well and providing ongoing support. This is not about ticking boxes, it’s about business and communities, and helping young women who are operating within a system that often doesn’t communicate. We have proven that public and private partnerships work, and more importantly that under-served young people can achieve real careers and real choices if they have access to the right opportunities. This grant allows us to have the resources to bring those opportunities to so many more young people, and we can’t wait to see what they achieve. We thank National Lottery players wholeheartedly for making this possible.”
Joe Ferns, UK Funding Director at the National Lottery Community Fund said: “We’re proud that National Lottery funding is helping more young women thrive in their local communities by expanding this successful project. Through coaching and mentoring, WeMindTheGap empowers women to gain the skills they need to gain confidence and full time employment.”
A WeMindTheGap traineeship sees young women undertake paid work experience in a variety of employment sectors, as well as being given new experiences, life coaching, support and mentoring.
The charity model is a six-month paid traineeship, followed by a further six months of support, as former trainees use their new skills to gain employment, education and a better life in general. The charity aims to help underprivileged young women transition from “prisoners of circumstance” to “pilots of their own lives”.
WeMindTheGap has worked with selected local Liverpool businesses including B&M Stores, Barclays, Amey PLC and Costa Coffee, to offer trainees experience within a range of environments, industries and skill sets. The employment placements are designed to allow the trainees to find their talents and skills and gain confidence in a supportive environment. In return, they enable Employer Partners to make tangible progress towards their social mobility goals, and to give their own employees mentoring experience and the opportunity to give back, which is proven to contribute to employee engagement scores. WeMindTheGap is additionally a chosen Charity Partner of the Royal Liverpool Horse Show.
Nicola was a 21-year-old unemployed mum with a 3-month-old daughter when she became a WeMindTheGap trainee. She has since found full-time employment at Amey plc at their Matchworks centre in Speke. Nicola said: “I met Sharon, my coach, in our first week, she was and is a lovely person, and even though it felt weird talking to a total stranger, I quickly learnt to trust her, and she has really helped me make sense of things.”