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What do we fund?

Each year the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust invites applications for a number of financial awards to be granted to midwives and students. We welcome applications that aim to improve care and give benefit to mothers and birthing persons, babies and their families.

We would love to see applications from a wide and diverse group of midwives and students. To support this, we offer our Dora Opoku Awards specifically for Black and Brown midwives and students, as well as general awards for all midwives and students.

Here we describe some of the types of projects that we fund. We hope it inspires you all to apply for funding or to support us as a charity. 

First, watch our Trustee Benash Nazmeen tell you why we want YOU to apply!

We fund:

training graphicTraining and Development

Research and Discovery

improving services graphicImproving Local Services


Training and self-development

Many midwives and students like to take on additional training to gain qualifications or enhance their skills to develop their midwifery practice or to arrange training and education for their midwifery colleagues. Training and self-development includes attending study days and training; elective placements; academic courses; organising training and conferences; return to practice.

Attending study days and training

Independent midwife Sharyn Lock used her midwives award to attend vaginal breech birth training, including observing a breech birth.

In my five years as a midwife, I was always seeking the chance to observe a physiological breech birth but I had never been in the right place at the right time. Thanks to Iolanthe, I have finally now seen a breech birth – a beautiful, swift, and so clearly physiological process!

Sharyn Lock, Midwives Award and Mary Cronk Award 2019

Elective Placements

Funding is also available to help students and midwives to travel to placements, and priority will be given to those taking place within the four nations of UK.  The Iolanthe Midwifery Trust is encouraging students to seek elective placements in a part of the UK that presents a contrast to (or builds upon) their prior experience, for example in urban areas, rural areas or within specific communities. 

We do not fund placements with commercial/for-profit travel organisations such as ‘Work the World’. Please carefully the downloadable guidance for each award, which includes what Iolanthe would be looking for in applications involving travel abroad. 

Having the opportunity to undertake an elective placement in a different area of the UK was extremely beneficial to my learning and I feel even more prepared for my future career as I approach the end of my training and plan for the beginning of my career in Midwifery.

emilee Lowis, Student award 2018, elective placement in powys, wales


Trisania Bailey used her Dora Opoku Student Award to travel to Ghana for an elective placement. Here she is, in a video recorded for the 2019 Awards Ceremony.

Academic courses

Other midwives apply for funding to attend academic courses but please note our preference to fund awards for awards in new areas of study rather than those to continue an existing course. 

The knowledge gained from the course has helped me to educate other members of staff about the conditions, and I have a passion to raise awareness about haemoglobinopathies for the safe care of women with haemoglobinopathy conditions and their families.

Joyce Adu-Amankwah, Midwives Award 2019

Organising training and conferences

Elsie Gayle and her co-applicants used their Jean Davies Award funding to hold a conference addressing mortality rates for Black mothers and babies.

Some award winners arrange local training for their midwives, such as Lisa Rose who used her Midwives Award in 2019 to fund community skills and drills training for herself and her colleagues.

Applications to attend conferences will be considered, but UK based ones will be prioritised, as well as those where the attendee has already been accepted to present. Please carefully the downloadable guidance for each award, which contains further advice. 

Return to Practice

Applications are invited from midwives who need financial help returning to midwifery practice. You are eligible if you have been accepted on a Return to Practice course at a university and approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and have a clinical practice placement.

Whatever skills, knowledge or experience you want to gain, there could be an award to suit you.  Find out more on our Grants and Awards page

If you would like to support us financially so we can offer more awards, then take a look at our Support Us page.

Research lightbulb

Research and discovery

Iolanthe Midwifery Trust welcomes applications to help with funding for fees, equipment and travel, salaries or a subsistence income while undertaking midwifery research.

The focus of my research was maternal obesity and its impact on labour outcomes. Receiving the Iolanthe award allowed me to reduce my working hours and to contribute to the field of maternal obesity

jessica atoklo, Midwives Award 2018

The Iolanthe Midwives Award enabled me to purchase equipment and cover travelling expenses to conduct cognitive interviews across the UK

Jackie Dent, Midwives Award 2019, PhD research into the impact of working 12-hour shifts on the safety and quality of midwifery care

Sarah Esegbona-Adeigbe won the 2019 Dora Opoku Award which helped pay her midwifery PhD tuition fees for her qualitative study of the perceptions of Nigerian mothers and midwives of cultural competency in antenatal care.

There are larger awards available, such as the Jean Davies Award for more expansive or collaborative research projects. Here Catherine Collins, a 2019 Jean Davies Award winner talks about applying for her award which has helped fund her PhD into the maternity experiences of women who have been trafficked into the UK.

In some years a substantial sum - the Midwifery Research Fellowship - is offered to help a doctoral midwifery student write up their research.  This was last offered in 2020.

Whatever your research funding needs, take a look at our Grants and Awards page to see what could be available for your work.

If you would like to help us support additional research projects with a donation or fundraising, then Support Us is the place for you to look.


Improving local services

Some midwives use their funding to improve local maternity services for the direct benefit of the women, babies and families that use them. For example, in 2018, Gayani Raheem received a Midwives Award to set up antenatal classes for teenagers.

I am so pleased to have won this award. I truly do believe the enhanced antenatal classes will not only improve the lives of our young mothers and their babies but also their experiences throughout pregnancy and ultimately reduce inequalities. 

gayani raheem, midwives award 2018

Emma Mills, consultant midwife in Wales, used her 2019 Midwives Award to support her Breech Project to increase maternal choice. When asking a woman who has benefited from the breech birth service, the reply was

It has been absolutely life changing - things could have been very different for me without this service in place. As a result I feel so proud, and it has given me so much confidence as a new mother

Mother who benefited from The Breech Project, supported by Emma Mills' Midwives Award 2019

Watch Emma talk about applying for and winning an Iolanthe Award, and what she used it for:

If you have a plan to improve local maternity services for women, or with benefits for midwives, take a look at our Grants and Awards page to see what funding you could apply for.

If you would like to help us to be able to give out more awards to improve maternity services and can fundraise for us, check out Support Us to find out what you can do.