In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re bringing you 9 inspirational women making community change happen across the UK.
Working at ActionFunder, we meet brilliant women leading grassroots change every day of the year. The 9 women featured here have caught our attention for their courage, compassion and community spirit. From helping people get back into employment, to supporting people through cancer, these women are dedicated to making the world a better place through community change.
We ask them what inspires their work and what advice they have to encourage others to take action.
Patricia White- Suited for Success
“You really have to find a cause that you are really passionate about and a strong WHY that drives you”
Patricia took a leap of faith and left a 10 year corporate career at the BBC to follow her passion to do more in communities and make a difference.
“After leaving the BBC, I set up the first Trussell Trust food bank in Birmingham that provided emergency food parcels for people in need. The main reason why people needed the food bank was due to not having a job. However, I thought if people can’t afford to put food on the table how would they afford to buy an interview outfit to make that crucial great first impression in a job interview. That’s how Suited for Success was born”. Suited for success provides FREE interview coaching, interview clothing and employment preparation skills for job interviews.
Marnie Rose- The Garden Classroom
“See what good practice looks like, find a niche and USP, a good team of supporters – and off you go !”
Marnie spent her younger years visiting her grandmother’s allotment in East London. When she moved to islington over 20 years ago, she was confronted by how little access to green space there was in the area. She knew she had to work on changing that for the local community . She became involved in creating a community garden near her home and soon left her job to dive into the world of social enterprise. She now runs The Garden Classroom, a charity connecting urban communities with the natural world.
Cat Ross- Baby Basics
“As women we are strong, understanding, empathetic and we get the job done!”
When Cat was offered the chance to lead baby basics she jumped at it with both hands. Baby basics started in Sheffield in 2009 with the aim of supporting families struggling to meet the financial demands of looking after a new baby. Under Cat’s leadership, the charity has grown into a country-wide network of centres supporting vulnerable families.
“It is so amazing to lead an organisation that is passionate about making a difference to vulnerable families at a local level.”
Lorraine Lewis – The Lewis Foundation
“No action is too small to make some sort of difference in your community”
The Lewis foundation was founded by Lorraine and her husband Lee after they spent time in adult cancer wards caring for Lorraine’s mother. That time showed the pair how tough the experience could be for both the patients and their families.
Lorraine wanted to do something to tackle the loneliness, boredom, fear and worry felt by those involved. She began with small acts of kindness (the purchase of puzzle books, newspapers, etc.) and soon created the Lewis Foundation which now supports adult cancer patients across 15 hospitals in the Midlands, providing respite through gift packs.
Laura Nightingale- Exim dance company
“Be bold and be brave and fight for gender equality for a fairer and more suitable future”
Laura is passionate about creating change in some of the most disadvantaged communities in Plymouth and the South West. Her commitment to supporting others has been the driving force behind Exim Dance Company, an award winning dance school that runs accessible classes for people in local, deprived areas. Exim Dance Company is about so much more than dance. The organisation is committed to boosting confidence, health and community cohesion..
Bettina Maidment & Daisy Hutchison- Plastic Free Hackney
“Making friends with others doing similar things is really important to keep you going”
Bettina founded Plastic-Free Hackney after starting to live a low-waste lifestyle with her young family. Having culled as much plastic as possible from her life, she took to social media to encourage others to do the same. Over Instagram she connected with Daisy and the two of them began a battle to free Hackney of plastic.
The pair founded Plastic-Free Hackney when plastic pollution was high on the agenda. Today, the non profit continues to raise awareness of the single-use-plastic problem. And works with locals, community groups and businesses to find sustainable alternatives. Their litter picking sessions run on Sundays – if you’re in the area, join them!
Sophia Medine- Girls Assemble
“Believe that your voice is valid”
The pandemic made many of us reevaluate what we want to achieve. For Sophia, that rethink led to the creation of Girls Assemble, an organisation that runs STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) workshops for women and girls in the Cornwall area.
Sophia is passionate about STEM education for women and girls as a catalyst positive change. By addressing the problems of under-representation of women in STEM careers she believes we can create a better world. So she’s starting on her doorstep with Girls Assemble workspaces for women and girls aged 9 to 25 to learn carpentry, welding, architecture, engineering, and activist art!
Kiera Mauro – Soroptimist International Bournemouth
“Find out if there is a club in your area – there are always many projects to get involved in from lobbying to environmental issues!”
Amazingly, it wasn’t so long ago that all girl schools didn’t offer physics as a subject to study. Mrs Kiera Mauro joined the Bournemouth branch of Soroptimist International a few years ago to support girls wanting to pursue careers in STEM. Inspired by the work done by fellow women within the organisation, she is now organising a yearly STEAM challenge to nurture girl’s interest in science and STEM options at school!
Do you want to get involved and create community change? There’s room for everyone to get involved in local social and environmental action! Simply find the cause that makes you want to get out of bed, surround yourself with supporters, and get going with even the smallest of actions.
To see how you can get involved in community change near you, explore the ActionFunder platform.