Women First

Women First logoWomen First’s vision is for thriving local, independent and holistic women led services and empowered women and girls who are able to make changes in their lives and have their voice heard.


Women First has dual purposes:

  1. To co-ordinate and expand women and girl’s support services through collaboration, innovation and enterprise.
  2. For Members to become more resilient and able to respond effectively to tender and funding opportunities through partnership and collaboration.



The Partnership will work collaboratively to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Collectively address women and girls’ individual needs using local, independent, specialist women focussed services
  2. Jointly submit funding bids/tender applications, where appropriate, to sustain, strengthen and expand Members’ services and specialisms and the women’s sector as a whole.
  3. Build and disseminate a strong evidence about the successful outcomes of local, independent, holistic women focussed services.
  4. Influence local commissioners and funders about the effectiveness and value of local, independent, holistic women focussed services.
  5. Challenge gender inequality in policy and practice.
  6. Provide greater degree of joined up working to meet the needs of all women and girls in the North East of England.
  7. Set standards to ensure the provision of holistic, high quality and consistent services for women and girls
  8. Strengthen and build organisations led by and for women and girls


Principles and Values

Wide recognition of the value and effectiveness of local, independent, holistic women focussed services underpinned by a feminist ethos is the driving force for its founder Members and they formed Women First as a vehicle for achieving this. To this end, Members commit to working in accordance with the following underpinning values and principles:

  1. Striving for good governance, legal compliance and quality standards for their organisations.
  2. Working ethically, responsibly and responsively to meet the dynamic needs of women and girls.
  3. A commitment to women’s leadership and autonomy and ensuring that this is developed and preserved.
  4. Acting within an ethos of mutual respect, trust, fairness and collective action on the basis that a collective approach is stronger than individual organisations acting alone (collective bargaining power and collective reach)
  5. Promoting anti-discriminatory practices and a commitment to furthering the goals of equality and diversity
  6. Understanding and applying of intersectionality* as central to the pursuit of social justice and within this:
    1. Commitment to the principle of services ‘led by and for’ the communities of women and girls they serve.
    2. So far as is practicable, ensuring that the Partnership represents the diversity, identities and communities of women and girls that it serves.
  7. Working from the principle that organisations are stronger together.
  8. Working to nourish, support and help sustain each other and each other’s specialism.
  9. Understanding that the integrity of the Partnership relies entirely upon relationships between its Members that are based upon TRUST.
  10. Operating within co-operative values; that is working together in equality and collaboration and resisting competitive processes and/ or becoming funding led (this will necessitate careful deliberation about the type and conditions of funding in relation to these values and principles being compromised).

* By “intersectionality” we mean recognising women can have multiple identities and then addressing the different types of discrimination and disadvantage they suffer with different approaches and specialisms.

Women First was a collaboration between NEWN members and the Women’s Commissioning Support Unit (WCSU) the Women’s Resource Centre’s three-year pilot project funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

The Esme Fairbairn funded Women's Commissioning Support Unit (WCSU) pilot project in the North East ended on 31st October 2018.  Whilst Women First, the partnership of 20 North East women's organisations that formed as an outcome of the project will continue, there is currently no continuation funding for WCSU. The post of North East development officer with the Women's Resource Centre come to an end.

If you have an enquiry about Women's Commissioning Support Unit or Women's Resource Centre,  Cara Atkinson or Dionne Nelson  may be able to help you with your enquiry., email: cara@wrc.org.ukdionne@wrc.org.uk or phone - 0207 697 3450. More information can be found about Women First Partnership here on Facebook - user name - https://www.facebook.com/WomenFirstPart1 or on Twitter - User name - @WomenFirstPart1

If you need to contact Dr Sue Robson directly to find out more about how the overall project progressed - email sue@suerobson.co.uk or phone 07813 109 215