MENTORING AND POLITICAL EDUCATION PROGRAMME
APPLICATIONS FOR COHORT 11 ARE OPEN.
Applications for cohort 11 open on 1 January and close on 6 February 2022
Following the astounding success of the first ten years of the Fabian Women’s Network Political & Public life Mentoring Programme, we are now recruiting our eleventh cohort of aspiring women. If you are a woman looking to develop or further a career in politics or public life, then this could be the programme for you.
Taking part will enable you to develop your political skills and increase the impact and influence you can have on political and public life through mentoring from one of a number of highly influential women along with bespoke training and peer group support.
ABOUT THE PROGRAMME
The FWM Mentoring Programme launched in 2011 on International Women’s Day and since then has gone from strength to strength. Over 250 women have now completed the Programme: each of the ten cohorts, has received mentoring as well as taking part in organised training and networking activities over a period of ten months.
The Programme includes time spent developing the core skills required to be effective in public and political life, visits to Parliament and Labour HQ, sessions on networking and skills development and a residential weekend in Northern College, Barnsley. Some events will be a one hour virtual training session and others in person subject to covid restrictions. Everyone will have a mentor, central support and regular contact with others in the cohort. Many mentees combine the programme with a full time job or study as well as family demands.
A half day induction, a day in Parliament, a speed networking evening, a half day visit to Labour HQ and a 30 hour personal skills workout in Northern College are compulsory.
There’s a wide range of other events tailored to the needs of each cohort including media skills, debating, public speaking, speech writing, networking and campaigning. There is no charge for joining the programme though you need to commit time and there are some travel costs. Mentees living outside of London can apply for a travel bursary.
The Programme has already delivered some incredible results for its participants and the Fabian Women’s Network. Mentees have been elected or selected or shortlisted as Parliamentary candidates, and as candidates for the London and Welsh Assembly with brilliant support from other mentees. Over 50 women have been elected into local government positions and subsequently promoted into cabinet positions, and a large number of women have gone on to become school governors and trustees on the boards of charities. Some have formed their own charities. The majority of mentees have gained increased confidence to go for promotions or taking up new opportunities; becoming more politically active locally, chairing meetings, writing for their local newspaper or other media. Many report that their lives have been transformed.
WHAT OUR MENTEES SAY
Priscilla, cohort 6
For me, the Fabian Women Mentoring Programme was truly transformational.
Not only did I build an exceptional network of phenomenal women, but in getting to know them and gaining access to some of my heroes in the world of politics, the programme provoked powerful and important questions for me to answer about my values and political convictions.
Rachael, cohort 1
The FWN programme has found a way to support women from across the country, from across differences in faith, ethnicity, age, sexuality and class and given us the tools to make our voices count.
Shaista, cohort 6
This scheme totally demystified power and politics for me, and helped me understand even more clearly why women with intersectional identities are still missing from the hallways, corridors, rooms and chambers in the House of Commons and local government. We are locked out from these spaces because of structural inequalities that exist in wider society.
HOW TO APPLY
From 1 January 2022 until 6 February 2022, the Fabian Women’s Network is inviting applications for the next cohort of the Programme. Applicants must join the Fabian Society if they are not already members.
Applicants must be able to demonstrate a clear interest in politics and public life and a commitment to their own and others’ development in their application.
The Programme will run from March 2022 for approximately 10 months (timings dependant on further lockdowns).
To apply for the eleventh cohort of the FWN Political & Public Life Mentoring Programme, you must submit a completed application form, a concise CV and a Diversity Monitoring Form by email to FWNmentoring@fabians.org.uk.
The deadline for applications to be a participant on the Programme is midnight on Sunday, 6 February 2022. We regret that applications for this cohort will not be accepted after this date.
Applicants must have joined the Fabian Society for their application to be considered. There is no minimum time you need to have been a member prior to application.
For any queries please contact the programme Coordinator Christine Megson by email at FWNmentoring@fabians.org.uk.
We are committed to regularly evaluating and improving this scheme. So far we have published three academic evaluation reports by Professor Rosie Campbell and with the support of Unison.
Read each one below.
Every mentee starts at a different place on their journey through political or public life and achievements therefore vary from person to person. We have found that everyone achieves significantly and for some women it’s life changing immediately and others it takes slightly longer. We celebrate women speaking out at their local CLP as much as those addressing the party conference for the first time. We enjoy hearing questions during the Fabian conference and messages from those about to speak on Women’s Hour. Voice training and practice with speaking out are part of the programme.
Most mentees are promoted at work faster than they have expected and a significant number have found new jobs using the powerful network we have created. Encouragement and support with preparing for the recruitment process is readily available. We have mentees who have moved into senior roles in political offices, in local and central government, in the public sector and in charities. From the shadow cabinet’s offices through the Home Office, Department of Education, Ministry of Justice, City Hall, NHS England, TUC to headteachers, doctors, anaesthetists, probation and prison service to the CAB, Crisis we have an alumni network. Some are now CEOs and Founders of their own charities; others are working overseas in the UN, for DfID or in overseas charities.
As well as those who have been elected as Councillors or MP, a number have significant voluntary roles as trustees or chair of charities and our speed networking events create opportunities for mentees to learn how to be selected onto a Trust. The Women in AI was launched by three mentees and is now a thriving movement.
Over the period of Covid we have seen mentees shine whilst chairing events with politicians or speaking as panellists or giving medical advice on TV. We’ve watched successful campaigns from those working on holiday famine and from a mentee who runs a pub.
We encourage and celebrate achievements at every stage of a mentee’s journey.
Becoming a councillor
Over the last 10 years the route from the mentoring programme to being elected as a local councillor has proved very popular. A few women have joined who have already been elected. They have been great role models and very supportive. A few women have already set their sights on being elected. The majority of mentees have seen others take up this incredibly important role and been attracted by it. It’s a huge influential achievement which impacts positively on a large number of people.
To date 46 mentees have been elected as councillors all over the country-that’s over 20% of mentees. Many of them are trailblazers who were encouraged by their peers and their mentors to seek public office.
Peymana Assad, Councillor in Harrow, was the first publicly elected official of Afghan origin. Rehana Ameer, was the first Indian-born woman elected to the Court of the Common Council in 950 years of the City of London Corporation’s history. Favour Ezeifedi is the first African Deputy Labour Leader in Watford Council. In Redbridge at one stage all the women councillors had come through the mentoring programme.
On the programme there’s a lot of support available for mentees wanting to follow this route: we have a publication produced by mentees. Some of our mentors have been councillors. We have a Councillor WhatsApp group where other mentees share advice to those considering the route as well as those already elected.
This group is also helpful for those elected wanting to be promoted to Cabinet positions and for sharing good practice. During the pandemic they were very quick off the mark to ensure their ward had the support they needed.
Finding their political voice
One of the aims of the mentoring programme is to hear more women's voices in public and political life. We want to hear them and see them both speaking out and in writing.
Many women apply to the mentoring programme with a strong interest in becoming more active in public and political life. A few of them are practised in debating. Some of them already hold public office. The majority of those accepted onto the programme want to increase their confidence in speaking or writing.
In the course of the programme mentees are encouraged to express their views through public speaking events, debates and exchanges with others on their cohort or former mentees. We give particular opportunities- with support- for mentees to pitch and write articles.
Voice training is critically important for us all. Dealing with the Media training is important for those who are going towards profile roles and these skills are transferable to other stressful situations like job interviews.
We have seen a number of mentees on the Politics show, Sunday politics, the Victoria Derbyshire show. Mentees' voices can be heard at conferences in the UK and internationally- including on Fabian panels at the Labour Party conference. There's regular articles from mentees on the Fabian Society pages, on Labour list, Huffington post and in the Guardian. Other mentees have published books, plays or written film scripts
Many of those had never spoken out before and realised they had found their political voice.