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Bright Futures is a young, ambitious project providing a wealth of practical help and support to the most vulnerable young women and their children in South Shields.

In 2009, an Ofsted report into local authority run youth services in South Shields highlighted the lack of appropriate provision available to young women. Two youth workers, Helen Bowman and Nicola Whalen, were asked to set up a service to meet this need. The first project they established was a drop-in centre for young women located on the Cleadon Park Estate.

As the initiative grew, they set up Bright Futures, recruiting a board of trustees and creating a young women’s forum to act as a sounding board to test new ideas.

Research by The Young Women’s Trust found that young women’s advice, training and support often fails to lead to meaningful employment. [1] They also found that young women’s confidence reduces the longer they are not in education, employment or training.

Bright Futures works around these barriers, offering accredited programmes of work and tailored one-to-one support.

Today, Bright Futures employs 14 members of staff and is based in two community hubs: Rekendyke and Cleadon Park.

They run a range of initiatives including support groups for young mums and expectant mums. By working with the young women through pregnancy and into the early years of the child’s life, Bright Futures helps to alleviate the isolation and deprivation the young women can face.

The Virgin Money Foundation has awarded Bright Futures a grant of £38,696 to engage with unemployed young women aged 16 to 25, providing them with opportunities to gain new skills, qualifications, career prospects and support to find employment and training whilst tackling some of the root causes of their unemployment including offending, substance misuse, homelessness, exploitation and domestic abuse.

[1] Young Women’s Trust, new research on economically inactive young people.