The Labyrinth Project

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The Labyrinth Project has engaged over 30,000 women in the UK and strengthened the women’s sector on both a local and national level, addressing the wide range of issues facing women including employment, childcare, harmful practices, and homelessness. Through the work of our diverse partners, we have provided funding, training, networking, advocacy and more to both women’s spaces and women themselves.

Laybyrinth Project
Highly Commended

The project was highly commended at the 2023 Charity Awards in the Campaigning and Advocacy category.

Our achievements include:

  • Engaging over 600 women’s centres and spaces
  • Training over 2,000 professionals and volunteers to improve legal, financial and employment support for women
  • Directly funding 41 small to medium women’s groups and organisations
  • Supporting over 500 women through groupwork and individual casework

We would like to thank the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for funding the Labyrinth Project through the Tampon Tax Fund, as well as our amazing partners for all their work on the project. 
The National Centre for Excellence, launched through the Labyrinth Project, seeks to continue work to build the capacity of the women’s sector. We are keen for organisations in the sector to join the conversation about the future of the Centre. If you are interested in being involved, please contact

Women often have a range of issues in their lives including Violence Against Women & Girls (VAWG), financial, employment and legal issues, but it can be hard for them to access the support they need across multiple agencies. There is a lack of joined-up, holistic, women-centred services despite many groups and organisations doing good work with and for women.

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the impact of these issues. With partners across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Labyrinth Project aims to support women’s spaces and services to help them, and the women they support, to emerge stronger from the damage that the pandemic is having on women’s lives.  

Funded by a grant from the Department for Digital, Culture, Music and Sport, the Labyrinth Project is contributing to system change for women by building capacity and forging stronger networks of support and shared learning locally and nationally. It focuses on education and training, awareness raising, building self-confidence, expansion of choices, increased access to and control over resources, actions to transform the structures and institutions that reinforce and perpetuate gender discrimination and inequality. The Project will also improve access to help with finances, debt and legal rights.

The Labyrinth Project is formed of the three strands below.

Local Capacity Building

Through a partnership of 14 women’s organisations, the Labyrinth Project is contributing to a strengthened women’s sector in 8 areas across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland by building capacity and forging stronger networks of support and shared learning locally and nationally. We believe this can be fostered on a local level by mapping the support currently available, building networks and increasing the influence of the women’s sector on local strategy and decision making. Activities include: 

  • Mapping the range of support available, identifying good practice, strengths and gaps in provision and the capacity building requirements of local groups.    
  • Mapping women’s journeys to access support in order to understand how this could be improved, particularly around support for VAWG, legal, debt/finance and employment issues.    
  • Using the mapping of services and women’s journeys to undertake activities to build capacity of the women’s sector according to local priorities. Examples of activities include networking with local groups to build mutual support and advocating for the women’s sector locally via representation on strategic groups and by supporting groups to work together for a stronger voice. We also built capacity through delivering a range of workshops and training to service users and professionals working with women covering topics such as job interview preparation and debt management in partnership with Rights of Women, Working Chance and Surviving Economic Abuse; and the Labyrinth Learning Series, a series of 50-minute sessions for networking with colleagues from the women’s sector across the UK and sharing ‘How To’ solutions to some of our common challenges.

The Empowering Women Fund 

The Empowering Women Fund is the Labyrinth Project’s grants scheme, administered in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The Fund supported organisations led by and for women to build their capacity and develop innovative ways of empowering women in their local area. The Fund was split into two strands: seed funding grants for small women’s groups; and Women’s Sector grants for women’s groups and organisations to develop capacity to respond to changing needs in their communities.

41 grants were awarded, enabling organisations in the UK to deliver life-saving support to women across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland through the Labyrinth Project.

The funded projects have identified and are responding to a significant increase in need within their community. Mental health and wellbeing are a particular concern, making up over half of all projects, followed by employment and VAWG.

Find out about the Empowering Women Fund grantees here: Empowering Women Fund Grantee Stories.

Solace is part of 360 Giving, an organisation encouraging open data on charitable funding, and you can find out more about the Empowering Women grant awards here.

National Women’s Centre for Excellence 

The National Women’s Centre for Excellence is a collection of knowledge, evidence, resources and tools based on experience by and for organisations within and supporting the women’s sector.

This online repository aims to contribute to a stronger, better connected and more inclusive women’s sector nationally by sharing knowledge, resources, learning and best practice, and identifying core elements of effectiveness in strengthening the sector. While the Labyrinth Project is time-limited, the Centre will continue its legacy, taking the learning as a starting point and creating a space to share information and evidence of what works that is readily accessible by women’s sector organisations, groups, and individual women. 

Take a look at the Centre at the button below

As shared knowledge is at the core of the National Women’s Centre for Excellence, we welcome contributions from professionals across the women’s sector.


Our partners

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