Interested in housing women safely? This grant could be for you – read on

We have been working with Big Society Capital and a range of grant funders, including most recently the Clothworkers Foundation, the John Laing Trust and the Mercers  to support women’s sector organisations across the UK to become more financially and operationally sustainable.

If you are interested in a grant to help you explore or implement the establishment of a property portfolio housing vulnerable women and children including those fleeing violence and abuse, then this grant fund could be for you

Winner Catalytic Grant for Social Investment

Winner’s Catalytic Grant is for women’s organisations in England and Wales accessing social investment to lease/purchase properties to accommodate women. The Grant provides a mix of expert peer support and additional staffing for women’s organisations to develop their governance, confidence, strategy, and business plans for social investment.

With homelessness continuing to rise, there is an urgent need to accommodate women and children bearing the brunt of social and economic inequalities and household volatility.

The Winner Catalytic Grant is designed on feminist principles to support women’s organisations to access social investment to purchase properties so they can accommodate more women and children. So far, the Grant has been awarded to 16 grantees and over £19m subsequently awarded to  grantees to lease/purchase properties.

The Grant is open on a rolling basis with quarterly deadlines for grant applications. It is designed and led by Winner, which itself has purchased 155 properties and leased another 45 in Hull using social investment. It is funded by Clothworkers Foundation, the John Laing Charitable Trust and the Mercers Company. Applications are assessed by an expert independent all-women panel.

See below:

Who can apply?

The Winner Catalytic Grant is open to women’s organisations in England and Wales with a demonstrable commitment and experience of supporting vulnerable women. You do not currently have to deliver accommodation-based services. However, you will be asked to confirm your Trustees are in support of securing social investment for the purpose of leasing/purchasing properties.

A women’s organisation is defined as:

  • Led by women, or where the service is part of a larger organisation, the service is managed by a separate board led by women; the chair and vice chair of the board, the chief executive, senior managers and a majority of the trustees are women.

To date, successful grantees have varied in size from upwards of £170,000 annual income. Around four in every ten grantees have an annual income under £600,000.

What we fund

The Grant buys capacity and support for organisations to ready themselves for social investment funded property purchase / lease. Organisations can put in place additional internal capacity and call on consultancy support from Winner and partners Support Solutions and CERT Ltd. The support from Winner is spearheaded by Lisa Hilder, Winner’s Treasurer and the Grant’s originator.

Activity is focused on building confidence, knowledge, systems, governance and strategic commitment to make grantees ready for social investment and the subsequent responsibilities and risks of lease/purchasing properties and accommodating women.

Typical grant size is £30 000 to £40 000 in two stages,  firstly to assess feasibility and secondly to pay for capacity to make the plans operational

‘We literally hit the ground running and Winner was able to match our pace. Nothing was too much trouble. We did have a lot of questions. They always had the answer and was really good at guiding us to make decisions’ – grantee

As a peer women’s organisation who has gone through the process of social investment itself. Winner’s support helps grantees create focus, overcome internal hesitancy, and resolve emerging risks and questions. 100 percent of grantees rate Winner’s support “extremely” and “highly” relevant to their needs. Examples of support from Winner include:

  • Mentoring and ongoing communication
  • Presenting to Trustees and hosting visits to the Winner property portfolio
  • Templates and guidance to develop housing management systems (e.g. specifications for IT; job descriptions)
  • Introductions to trusted social investors

Aims and impact of the Grant

There Winner Catalytic Grant has three aims:

  • Increasing the availability of safe accommodation to women and children provided by specialist women’s organisations
  • Recapturing the autonomy of women’s organisations by empowering a shift to unrestricted, secure, and sustainable income, through social investment
  • Pioneering a model of feminist grant-making.

Grantees have used the Grant to ready themselves for social investment by:

  • Building internal skills and knowledge on social investment, and housing and tenancy management
  • Developing clear and ambitious strategies for property/lease purpose, and plans for housing and tenancy management
  • Developing detailed feasibility studies to present to social investors
  • Successfully securing informed commitment from Boards
  • Establishing new forums and legal entities to safeguard organisations from risk
  • Engaging and beginning talks with social investors.

To date there have been 16 grants approved which have/will support the purchase/lease of 228 safe homes for vulnerable women and kids

Case studies

Winner, which has pioneered this grant and the model of safe homes through social investment, has used a variety of investment approaches to purchase 155 properties in the last 15 years. The value of these properties was recently determined to be £15.9million with £6.4million owed against them – giving £9.5million worth of equity across the portfolio. This capital asset provides a firm financial foundation for the charity and its services.

Thrive Women’s Aid based in Port Talbot accessed this grant and as a result is in the process of purchasing around 20 properties as move on accommodation from refuge for women it looks after

Juno Women’s Aid has been awarded £4.8million through the Social and Sustainable Housing Fund to purchase 28 properties in Nottinghamshire as dispersed accommodation for women leaving refuge or unable to access refuge.

Daizybell Homes in Bradford accessed £3.8million worth of leased properties through the WISH Fund and is making a difference for 30 families in Bradford fleeing violence and abuse.

Feminist grant-making

‘It hasn’t felt at any time that Winner have come in and said “you need to do this.” It’s been collaborative, very open, and the sharing of staff. They have come back to us. When we’ve had difficulties around housing issues they’ve got a direct number to help chivvy us along. It’s felt comfortable, its felt collaborative. They really want to see us do this. You know how you sometimes get a bit of protectionism with partnership? Well, there’s been none of that. And we’ve laughed a lot’ – grantee

The Winner Catalytic Grant is a feminist grant (grantees themselves describe it that way). It rejects the normal funder paradigm of power and control, instead empowering grantees from the position of shared herstory and culture. The Grant aim is to empower women’s organisations, and we foster empowering relationships all the way through the process.

The Grant is shaped by Winner’s expertise from using social investment to create a portfolio of 195 properties in Hull. The Grant’s feminist, expert by experience approach is unique in social investment and pioneering amongst wider grant funders. The values of the Grant mirror those of the women’s organisations it funds: inclusive, patient, empowering, trust-based, and trauma-informed.

How to apply

‘a lot more informal. It was a very different approach. Lisa was very supportive in a way that most funders don’t have time for. To be able to meet her and feel confident before submission was really helpful’ – grantee

We keep the Grant process as simple as possible. Women’s organisations apply by submitting an application. Applications are assessed at quarterly meetings by our all-women grants panel. Each application is assessed on its own merit and not in competition with other organisations.

The application steps are as follows:

1: Informal conversations

Contact us for an informal chat to discuss your situation, your aims in investing in property, and to request an application form. This is also a chance to ask us questions. Contact us on

2: Submit application

Our application form is simple and straightforward. There is no deadline. The application questions cover:

  • Your current housing portfolio / housing management experience (not necessary)
  • Your future housing portfolio ambitions
  • Your understanding of level of need
  • What support and funding you want from the Grant
  • What impact you want to achieve through the Grant
  • Your governance structure.

3: Assessment

Applications are assessed quarterly by our independent all-women panel. We will let you know when this is.

4: Award and payment

We will inform you of the decision immediately. We will discuss first steps with you. Payment is made in advance.

Frequently asked questions

We have never owned any housing and don’t have experience of housing management, can we apply?


We aren’t sure if this is suitable for our organisation, can we speak to you?

Yes, we want to speak to everyone informally before applying. We’ll only encourage you to apply if you are suitable.

What are the key terms and conditions of the Grant?

Terms and conditions are standard as for most grants – the money ,must be spent on the purpose for which it is granted and must be identified in your annual accounts.

What is the payment schedule?

A Payment schedule will be agreed with you as part of the application process – tailored to your need and your grant.

If we’re successful, what happens next?

As part of the grant submission process we will work with you to understand what your needs are. After signing the grant agreement, we will begin working with you on the pre-agreed implementation of your project.

How is the Grant monitored?

We will ask you to provide a short report on the use and impact of the grant at the end of the first year and we will ask you to take part in our in-depth evaluation process each year. This will involve completion of a feedback survey and a one to one interview with our independent evaluator.

If we’re successful, what happens at the end of the Grant?

At the end of the grant we will have helped you to arrive at a decision as to whether social investment is right for your organisation and if that is the case we will have helped you embark on accessing the investment which you feel comfortable with. We will help you through the due diligence process with your social investor of choice and if you choose our midwife support we will help you through the first 2-3 years of your property acquisition and management journey.

Our Board are very afraid of risk: can the Grant fund early-stage explorations?

We want applicants whose Boards are serious about wanting to purchase properties and take on the responsibilities of property and tenant management which will follow property lease/purchase. However, most Boards are concerned about social investment because it feels like a new form of funding (even though lots of organisations have experience repaying other loans and mortgages).

This is why we want all applicants to speak with us informally first, so we can discuss your situation and whether this is the right time to apply for the Grant.

Can we come and visit you or have you speak to our Board?

You are welcome to come and visit us in Hull and understand our integrated service model, talk to our housing team and get a “hands-on” feel of how it all works. We are also happy to speak to your senior staff and Boards proper to grant application and through the investment due diligence process – to support in the way you would find helpful

What is social investment and who are social investors?

Social investment is repayable financing (e.g. loans) available to voluntary sector organisations, charities and social enterprises.

Social investors are the institutions who provide social finance. They get their money from private individuals, trusts and foundations, and other investors who want to fund social good, but are also seeking a financial return on their investments.

We recommend Good Finance to learn more about social investment and social investors.

Isn’t social investment anti-feminist?

Social investment can be criticised both for making returns on investing in social issues, and for being inaccessible to women’s organisations and Black and minoritised organisations.

These criticisms can sometimes be valid – in fact, we have experienced much of this first-hand. However, we are motivated by the fact that social investment is a rare opportunity to draw down large-scale funding to meet women’s needs, and to create permanent autonomous assets for the women’s sector.

We have worked hard over years to identify and build relationships with social investors who are accessible and collaborative with women’s organisations. We have invested time and energy in educating the social investment sector, and where social investors have fallen short, we have held them to account and where necessary, severed relationships.

We have also worked with Big Society Capital and a range of social investors to design funds which meet the needs of the voluntary and community sector and in particular the women’s sector. We co-created the Social and Sustainable Housing Fund, which has invested more than 25% of its funds into the domestic abuse sector and continues to support more women’s sector organisations to access investment. This amounts to more than £25million just from this one fund.

Social investment is a field with systemic problems. However, we are passionate about making it accessible and suitable for women’s organisations, despite these barriers, and will continue to advocate for change.



Posted by Lisa Hilder in About Us, Grants we offer, News, Services


The Purple House Nursery is part of Preston Road Women's Centre and underpins its services. We are a small, friendly and homely nursery where your children can have fun, learn and play in a safe and nurturing environment.

Our experienced nursery practitioners are qualified and dedicated but above all have a genuine passion for working with young children.

We provide high quality care and early learning for children by filling their days with fun activities, lots of laughter, singing, making friends and choosing how and when they play and learn. Our activities are planned and evaluated using The Early Years Foundation Stage.

Their “Education" is provided in such a unique way that the children don’t realise they are "Learning", they are too busy having “fun”.

We are sponsored by BBC Children In Need and take immense pride in being able to offer a safe and supportive environment to vulnerable children experiencing crisis. Our specialist nursery practitioners plan "Therapeutic" or "Talking and Playing" sessions which enable children to recover from, or at least improve some of the effects of exposure to family crisis.

We also offer a crèche service to women accessing the centre’s training courses and services (this is subject to funding). We offer a limited number of nursery funded places to 2 year olds.

We are registered with Ofsted to provide care and early learning for a maximum of 18 children. This small number ensures our children receive one to one attention and soon become part of our unique little family at Purple House. We work closely with parents and professionals to ensure we build positive relationships which naturally enhance the children's learning and development.

In our latest Ofsted Inspection in February 2015 we achieved GOOD” overall, with 2 GOOD and 1 OUTSTANDING, narrowly missing out on outstanding overall!!

This is a fantastic achievement for a small not for profit nursery and is testament to the nursery staff who work tirelessly to improve outcomes for all children. In 2011 we achieved Steps to Quality Award “Step One”.

We have 2 rooms and an outdoor play area for your little ones to enjoy and explore.

Nursery Opening Times:

The nursery is open 46 weeks a year.

Monday to Friday 9:30 am till 3pm.

Nursery Prices

Full Day £30

Half Day £15

Early Education Nursery places are now available for all age groups but are limited.

For more information please speak to our nursery team or call on 01482 790310

Use the booking form on this page or call us to reserve a Nursery place.

Nursery Contact Form

    If you would like more information about the nursery, or are interested in a place for your child, just fill out this form and we'll get back to you!

    More information about the nurseryTo register a child at the nursery for their first visitTo book a session for a child who has been to the nursery before

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    Posted by admin_eric9023 in Services

    Umbrella Housing Service

    Are you looking for somewhere to live?

    The Umbrella Housing Service can help.

    We have 195 one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom properties in different areas of Hull which are available for women and children needing homes.

    You don't need a deposit or a bond and you can stay in the property as long as you need to.

    Rents are set at affordable rent levels which means that your Local Housing Allowance will cover at least most of the cost.

    Each property is safe and secure and is located close to a school and other local amenities.

    Complete the referral form on this page or call us on  01482  790310 if you would like to apply for a house




    Housing Service

      Do you need somewhere to live? Just fill out this form and we'll get back to you!

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      Posted by Alison Ashton in Services


      Are you interested in learning something new?

      Would you like to take a course in a friendly environment where your children can be looked after in our on-site Nursery?

      Preston Road Women’s Centre offers a range of accredited and non-accredited courses.  We are a recognized learning centre for the National Open College Network (NOCN) and our courses generally run over 5 weeks, one day per week.  Crèche facilities are available for some of the courses; please contact the centre for more details.

      Alternatively you can fill in our training booking form, where you will be added to a waiting list for the course of your choice.  Courses are delivered term time and alternated frequently.  Our courses are popular, so you may not be invited to attend straight away, please be patient, we promise we will get to you as soon as possible.  Invitations are likely to be issued 2 weeks prior to a course start date.

      Click here to go to the booking form

      Find below our list of core courses.  These are completed over a 5 to 6 week period and for our online delivery will be supported by online video sessions with your course tutor.

      Volunteer Training

      You will develop an awareness of women’s issues and learn about confidentiality policies. Upon completion of the course you may become a volunteer at the centre and develop essential skills. This is an accredited module available at Level 2.

      Understanding Abusive Relationships (Domestic Violence)

      An interesting course which looks at Domestic Violence and Abuse, it covers Power and Control and the reasons/excuses for abuse. This is also an accredited module available at Level 2/3.

      Self Development & Confidence

      Course Looks at how you treat others and how people treat you, aims to improve your self-worth and self esteem. It also builds up your confidence. Accredited module at Level 2.

      Applying for Work and Interview Skills

      A course to build confidence to gain employment giving you the tools to look for and apply for work, increasing your chances of gaining employment.  This course is also accredited at Level 2.

      Independent Living Skills: Women's Tenancy Course

      A course designed to explore the concepts of empowerment and independence, self-sufficiency, your rights as a tenant and community within the context of being a female tenant.

      **Below is a list of our shorter one day courses.

      Self-Esteem v Confidence

      This course takes a closer look at the concepts of Self-Esteem and Confidence and allows learners to explore their definition, how to build them and what impacts negatively on both.  At the end you will have a set of tools that you can draw from to strengthen both.

      Wellbeing Today

      This course takes a look at the concepts of stress and improving overall wellbeing.  Learners will explore how stress affects the body and why a holistic approach is important.  On finishing the course you will have a host of tools to use to help minimize stress and improve overall wellbeing.

      What is Feminism?

      In this bite-size course, learners will have an introduction to the concept of Feminism.  Learners will explore the definition and assumptions made about Feminism, the history and the impact.  On finishing the course learners will have a theoretical base knowledge of the subject matter.

      Developing Your Cultural Intelligence

      In an increasing global community, it is important now more than ever to develop key understanding between different communities.  On this course leaners will explore the concepts of culture and diversity, the impact on the community and the benefits of building your cultural intelligence.

      Arts and Crafts (Mondays only)

      Our warm and welcoming arts and crafts group currently runs every Monday morning during term time.  Guests will have the opportunity to chat and have tea and coffee whilst engaging in various craft activities.  Minimum donation of £2 per session required.

      Please be aware that in keeping with Covid 19 restrictions, if you are positive or showing symptoms please do not attend the centre and call to let us know.


      Click here to go to the booking form

      Posted by admin_eric9023 in Services

      Girlz Only Project – Young Women

      The Girlz Only Young Women’s Project based within the Preston Road Women’s Centre works with young women aged between 10-18 who have been affected by domestic abuse either within their own relationships or were there is domestic abuse within the family home. We offer specialist one-to-one support in a place that is comfortable for young women for example schools, colleges or children centres.

      We can support with:

      • One-to-one domestic abuse support
      • Information and advice
      • Emotional and practical support
      • Safety work
      • Advocacy support
      • Housing support
      • Support with accessing other services.

      We aim to help build confidence and resilience, so that young women feel empowered to make positive choices and identify their own strengths and skills. We aim to support young women in identifying risk and explore ways to increase their safety.

      We can also help young women 16-25 with accommodation and housing support either through our internal housing project or external housing services. We can help with advice and information and explore their housing options suitable for them based on their needs and wishes.

      Young women can self-refer or be referred to the service by professional, family and friends. Professionals can refer using our referral form and young women can self refer by contacting us through phone, website or coming into the centre.


      We also provide a Girls Only Youth Club every Wednesday and Thursday evenings between 4.30pm-6.30pm for young women aged between 10-16. We provide a safe space where young women can participate in fun activities, make new friends and build their confidence and self-esteem. The sessions are ‘young women led’ which means they make decisions on the things they do.

      For more information, please contact the centre on 01482 790310/07854 471667

      Email –


      Young Women Contact Form

        If you would like to get in touch with us, please complete the form on this page and we will contact you.

        How would you prefer us to contact you?

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        Posted by Staci Walker in Services

        Affordable Justice


        Affordable Justice is a Family Law service based at the women’s centre on Preston Road – the first one of its kind in the country.

        We want to ensure that women can access legal advice and representation by offering affordably-priced, non-profit making legal services, provided by qualified solicitors who are experts in this field. You do not have to live in Hull to access this service. Our hourly rate is £110/hour plus VAT. We can help you with payment plans or to access your local Credit Union. Our Affordable Justice service is led by Sue Sedgwick, a Hull solicitor experienced in family law. Sue and her team can help you with:

        • Divorce, Separation, Cohabitation – resolution of relationship breakdown
        • Non-molestation orders to provide some personal protection for you and/or your children.
        • Occupation Orders to regulate who lives at the family home, to help you and your children to live in safety.
        • Representation in Proceedings concerning child arrangements.
        • Specific Issue Orders – for example for the return of a child who has been forcibly removed.
        • Prohibited Steps Orders – for example to stop the other party from removing the child from the care of the Applicant.

        While legal proceedings are underway, we are also able to support you and your family with our other services, including domestic violence support, safe housing and nursery provision. You don’t need to come to the Women’s Centre – the team can meet you in a location convenient to you.

        For more information visit the website at, call us on 01482 711003 or complete the form below.

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          Posted by becky brown in Services

          Domestic Violence Support Service

          Are you having trouble with your partner?

          If you are having problems in your relationship and you feel you may be experiencing abuse, our team is here to help.

          Some of the types of behaviour which are unacceptable include:

          • Physical violence or aggression
          • Name-calling and consistently running you down
          • Humiliating you in front of other people
          • Rape or unwanted sexual advances or behaviour
          • Preventing you from seeing friends and family
          • Threatening to hurt you or your children
          • Not letting you have any money or making you account for every penny you spend

          If you feel your partner is trying to control you, you may want to talk to us about it

          The information below describes some of the things we can do to help.

          Our Domestic Abuse Support Team offers support to women who are affected directly or indirectly by issues of domestic abuse. We are able to offer support to women with complex needs which may include but is not limited to:

          • Substance misuse
          • Mental health
          • Disabilities and Learning Disabilities
          • Black and minority ethnic service users (including asylum seekers, refugees and migrant workers)

          These workers have developed links with other services that work directly with these groups of women to ensure a smooth referral process, when needed, between the services. We can meet women in other safe venues if women are not able or feeling confident or ready to access the Purple House. Workers can also access the services of interpreters should this be needed by any service user.

          We support women in various ways, we have some properties that are managed by the Women’s Centre, we can refer women fleeing a domestic violent situation to these properties, we have good links with housing providers and private landlords that we can also refer women to whilst writing support letters to help improve their chances of being re-housed safely and appropriately. The support provision can continue after a woman has moved into the property to ensure that they are managing their tenancy well and feel supported in what could be a very difficult time.

          We work with women and children to plan a safe escape and this can also include ensuring that family pets are properly accommodated and cared for. Often the perpetrator will abuse the family pet as a means of control against the women and children, and will threaten to kill the pet if the woman does not stay in the relationship. The animal has often lived through the abuse, and provided comfort to the women and children and the emotional bond between family and animal means that it would be additional trauma to leave the animal behind, as well as dangerous for that animal.

          We also provide other practical support; contacting Housing & Council Tax Benefits, tax credits, utility companies and other services. Alongside of this we can support women to attend police, GP, solicitor appointments and other services they may need to attend, providing an advocacy service.

          For some women it is about having somewhere to go where they feel that they can just talk and be listened to without being judged, we aim to provide a safe forum for this to happen and provide emotional support and hopefully a space for any women that feel they need this.

          Outreach support can be offered throughout the city as well:

          Please contact us on:

          01482 790310 to talk through accessing support

          Domestic Violence Contact Form

            If you would like to get in touch with us, please complete the form on this page and we will contact you.

            How would you prefer us to contact you?

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            Telephone Number to Call:
            Mobile Number to Text:
            Email Address:

            Make a Donation

            We rely entirely on the generosity of our supporters to keep our doors open.

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            Posted by Alison Ashton in Services