The WayfinderWoman Trust is an Eastbourne based charity to help guide and support women. This might be with a clear-cut goal or simply to help pinpoint their next move. It could be to help build confidence, to stand up on their own and give them the strength to take that next step. Whatever the need, WayfinderWoman are on hand.
“We are a mutual support community run by women for women,” said founder Laura Murphy when we chatted recently. “This is a safe, warm space. Women can come here and talk openly, listen and understand each other and challenge stereotypes.” All this can be found at the hub, and much more too: one-to-one chats, courses, seminars, volunteering opportunities, tech support, free WiFi access, and online and telephone resources too.
WayfinderWoman was born out of a session that Laura ran when she was involved with the Sussex Learning Awards, at around 2013. Only women attended and the atmosphere was apparently, inspirational. “It was a wonderful environment where women talked honestly about their insecurities with no judgement, things like having to leave meetings early to pick up children.” Laura saw the potential in this and set up pro bono ‘clubs’; and in 2017 they were granted charitable status. She wanted to help others have a smoother journey through life – namely a career and motherhood – than she had experienced. As she said, “I always felt I could do better.”
All walks of women visit WayfinderWoman, either dropping into the hub, calling or using their online resources. “We now have women from all over the world seeking our advice. Recently, we have been helping highly qualified women from overseas to transfer their qualifications to be recognised in the UK, rebuilding their confidence and helping them find jobs,” said Laura. “We also have lots of women seeking advice to help with the current cost of living crises.”
As a charity WayfinderWoman is predominantly run by volunteers. This gives out of work women the opportunity to learn office skills, events organisation and helps to massively boosts confidence. “We provide references for our volunteers and over 85% of them go on to find paid employment,” explained Laura.
Another key aspect of their work is reaching out to employers. They help employers realise the benefits of offering a supportive and nurturing working environment for women, and with the voice of their Trustee Katie Day, WayfinderWoman have spoken about menopause in Parliament and caught the attention of MPs.
Since 2017, WayfinderWoman have been awarded grants from the National Lottery, and this year for the first time they received a £100,000 grant. This has enabled the charity to employ two women part time, to keep their hub open 7 days a week, and reach their support further afield. “We would love to grow to other counties and make WayfinderWoman a national charity to provide the type of support we do all over the country,” said Laura.