Young Women and Mental Health PLUS

Our new £5 million funding programme over the next 5-years (2021-2026) aims to improve the mental health of young women (16-25) in the UK. The Young Women and Mental Health PLUS fund will support access for young women to high quality, age and gender informed mental health services. This programme replaces our previous Social Welfare fund.


When Edward Harkness established the Pilgrim Trust in 1930, he did so to help meet some of the more ‘urgent’ needs of the UK with a view to promoting wellbeing. The Trust has a long history of supporting people in the UK who live tough lives, and over the last decade we have paid particular attention to improving the life chances of women and girls. Following a review of our funding and in light of recent research, the Trust has decided to focus its efforts on supporting improvements in the mental health of young women, building on existing evidence of the value of age and gender appropriate mental health provision.


Why young women?

Research shows that young women have become the most likely group of people to develop mental ill health, and that Covid-19 had a disproportionate impact on them.

The Government’s new ‘Women’s Health Strategy’ identifies mental health as one of the top five priorities that respondents wanted addressed.

Over 25% of young women experience mental disorders such as anxiety, depression and self-harming – almost three times the rate of young men.

Most mental health problems manifest themselves before the age of 24.

Social factors and structural inequalities, such as race, lower income and disability, exacerbate the mental health problems experienced by young women and their access to resources and services.

Our new focus allows us to find effective ways of helping young women (aged 16-25) at this crucial stage in their lives, as they transition from child to adult.


Our theory of change

The Young Women and Mental Health Plus grants programme is part of a range of activities that we will be carrying out over the next five years. Our aim is to improve the mental health of young women both through our grants programme and through policy investment.  In addition to grants, we expect to make a number of strategic interventions to support the sector and to advocate for good practice and systemic change – these might include research, mapping, collaborations and networks.

You can find out more about our theory of change here.

We’re committed to sharing what we’ve learnt from our first round of applications – learn more here.


Our ‘PLUS’ approach

In all of our work, we are looking for charities that directly engage with young women, offer age and gender informed services, strive for substantive equality and create a fully integrated programme of mental health support. We call this our ‘PLUS’ approach.

You can find out more about the ‘PLUS’ approach in our Funding Guidelines.


Applying for a grant

The funding round for 2021 is now closed. Follow us on Twitter to be first to hear any funding announcements. For further information, please read our Funding Guidelines, FAQs and Apply for a Grant page to learn more.  You can look at our application form for reference here.


Our current cohort:

From our first funding round (2021), we are pleased to have awarded grants to ten organisations in Greater Manchester and Northern Ireland. The following will form our first cohort:

– Stockport Women’s Centre

– The Parent Rooms

– Lighthouse

– Asian Development Association Bury (ADAB)

– Manchester Action on Street Healthy (MASH)

– The Counselling and Family Centre, Altrincham (CFC)

– Odd Arts

– M13 Youth Project

– Falls Women’s Centre

– The Northern Ireland Youth Forum (NIYF)

You can find out full details on our current cohort and their projects here.