MENTORING AND POLITICAL EDUCATION PROGRAMME
Our award winning programme combines a ten month long mentoring programme with political education and training, comprising of a series of linked events that encourage the development of a peer network alongside the one-on-one mentoring relationship. With a thriving alumni network of over 200 women, the benefits of being accepted on to this scheme certainly don't stop when the structured programme ends.
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.
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.
APPLYING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Applications for the tenth cohort closed on 6th September 2020.
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.
We recommend a minimum age of 21 and there is no upper age limit. We’ve had mentees from aged 21 to 64.
We welcome applications from all parts of the UK and though the majority have come from London, we’ve had mentees from Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland and every region of England.
The application process is competitive with about four applications for every place. It is purely written. We don’t carry out interviews and there’s no model person we are looking for. This is however a programme for people who have started a political or public life journey and though you may well change direction, it is not a career advice exercise.
The programme lasts 10 months and includes both compulsory and optional events. A half day induction, a day in Parliament, a visit to a devolved 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.
Many mentees combine the programme with a full time job or study as well as family demands.
There is no charge for joining the programme though you need to commit time and for there are some travel costs. Mentees living outside of London can apply for a travel bursary.
After being accepted onto the programme we match mentees with a mentor from a wide pool of 70 mentors.
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.
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.
Becoming a councillor
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.