The Pilgrim Trust and their Young Women’s Mental Health programme

5 Jun 2023 Jocelyn Horton    Last updated: 21 Jun 2023

Sonja Forbes, Grant Manager at Pilgrim Trust, gives an overview of their Trust and their Young Women’s Mental Health programme.

Who are the Pilgrim Trust?

Originally set up in 1930 to support the urgent and future needs of the UK, the Pilgrim Trust gives around £3 million in grants annually to charities and other public bodies that focus on preserving the UK’s heritage or bringing about social change. Their current grant programmes include preservation and conservation and young women’s mental health alongside their research, advocacy and development fund.

Why mental health and young women?

Sonja highlighted that young women have emerged as the highest-risk group for mental ill health.

  • Young women are especially vulnerable, with over 25% experiencing mental health problems - more than twice the rate for young men.
  • The 16 to 25 year age group is a time of many life changes, but when 75% of mental health issues develop before the age of 24., an added challenge can be transitioning from children’s to adult mental health services often, understandably, described as being on a ‘cliff-edge’.

What are they looking for?

Their young women’s mental health programme is about finding effective ways to help these young women whose mental health needs may otherwise go overlooked. At the heart of their programme are four pillars ensuring high quality, mental health support for young women:

  • Gendered approach
  • Age appropriate
  • Integrated
  • Substantive Equality

Sonja explained how their programme recognises that gender differences exist resulting in inequality within mental health provision. For example:-

  • the ways in which women seek help may differ from that of men;
  • the higher prevalence of violence and abuse suffered by females may require a different and trauma-informed type of mental health support; 
  • females are more likely to be single parents or primary carers of loved ones and may require extra support to access services such as childcare provision; and
  • young women may also face structural barriers which further exacerbate their difficulties in accessing mental health provision such as language or cultural needs.

Consequently, this programme looks to support mental health provision that is tailored to address differences and specific needs of females. This includes:

  • ensuring age appropriate provision for young women to reflect the challenges around this transition point from childhood to adulthood. For example, feedback from young women attending an antenatal workshop with older women showed that the young women felt ‘infantilised’ and inhibited from being able to voice their concerns or advice.
  • Projects should also be integrated with other support options to fully meet an individual’s needs. For example, if a young woman required support for housing or domestic abuse, the organisation would be expected to assist this need, not necessarily in-house, but through your partnerships with others.
  • In terms of equality, young women shouldn’t have to work harder and overcome barriers to access the help they need. Successful projects would seek to redress disadvantage, address stigma and accommodate difference.

Organisations would be expected to provide regular, ongoing support rather than one-off initiatives where they have a proven track record of work with young women aged 16-25 years old and experience of delivering a holistic, practical wrap-around support to high quality, willingly collaborating with others including those with lived experiences, represent their communities and either lead the way in good practice or show innovation in age and gender informed approaches to mental health provision.

What do successful project receive?

They award grants of £60,000 to £90,000 spread across three years to eligible charities who must be working in Northern Ireland, North East or North West of England or Yorkshire and Humber, have an annual turnover between £100k to 1 million and be a registered charity that has been operating for at least 3 years.

Grant recipients also to come together as a cohort, sharing best practice, exploring the need for policy change and addressing gaps in provision, and building a supportive peer-network. Eligible costs include:

  • Project delivery costs
  • A contribution toward core costs (e.g., contributions towards salaries, staff, building overheads, etc.)
  • Monitoring and evaluating costs
  • Advocacy and campaigning costs
  • Costs related to activities that help share good practice (e.g., convening groups, publications etc)

For organisations that do not meet eligibility requirements, partnership bids are welcome.

You can find examples of projects they have previously funded through the programme here and here.

Interested applicants are encouraged to read through the guidelines/criteria and to book a conversation with the grants team to apply.  

You can find out more here

For local organisations, looking for a partner, please contact Jocelyn Horton if you would like intermediary support.'s picture
by Jocelyn Horton

Fundraising Advice Officer

[email protected]

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