Working With Young Women in Tower Hamlets

by Fiona Harriss May 22, 2014 A

We’re delighted that Fiona Harriss is part of the CONCRETE network and are looking forward to listening to her thoughts and reflections coming out of the amazing work she does with the Canaan project; working with young women in Tower Hamlets, East London.

I’m Fiona and I have the privilege of working for a small but exciting charity called Canaan Project. The Canaan Project was set-up around 10 years ago to work with some of the most marginalised young people in Tower Hamlets with a mission to offer provision to young people who would otherwise have no provision. Over the years, our journey has led us to work with hundreds of young people in Limehouse, Poplar and now in the Globe Town area of Bethnal Green.

A year ago we decided to focus our work solely on young women in response to the fact that young women were and are massively under-represented in youth provision across the borough, a situation that is also replicated across the country. In our experience there can be a number of barriers that prevent young women from attending youth clubs including cultural factors, issues around safety as well as the types of activities on offer and the spaces they are offered in.

Yet young women face all sorts of challenges and pressures, which we believe good youth work can help equip them to navigate. We also don’t just want to see young women cope; we want to see young women thrive and to be able to move beyond the difficulties they face to develop interests, skills and aspirations and the confidence and resources to pursue them.

We have become passionate about finding ways to work with young women that works for them and in so doing pursue our vision which is to see:

Young women who are comfortable in their skin – young women who know and are secure in their inherent worth and unique identity, and who care for themselves holistically.

Young women who are comfortable in their communities – young women who know the value of others and who are able to build and maintain healthy relationships.

Young women who are comfortable in the wider world – young women who have broad horizons, have hope and aspirations for their future and use their resources, opportunities and influence to bring about good for themselves and others.

We currently run a variety of sessions and activities on the Cranbrook Estate and within Morpeth Secondary School, ranging from open drop-in sessions and project work to small groups and one to one mentoring. We are learning all the time from the young women we work with and are adapting and developing our approach as we go. If you want to keep up to date with our journey or be part of it in some way you can find us at