The Young Women’s Film Academy’s approach is exciting and unique in that it aims to improve emotional well-being through film, ensuring that the girls and young women it works with are supported by artists with qualifications and competency in therapeutic approaches. Evidence shows that when we engage authentically and genuinely with vulnerable children and young people, their ‘narrative’ or ‘their story’ can be a pivotal way in which they can safely explore their life, their personal challenges and reframe their future. It is absolutely essential and our underpinning philosophy, that the facilitators working with them foster a trusting, safe, supportive environment for this to happen.

The Young Women’s Film Academy also undertakes film commissions for the charitable and statutory sector that aim to raise awareness of issues affecting girls and women.

Our Team

Clara Shield

I’m Clara Shield and I am one of the co-founders of the Young Women’s Film Academy and the Chair of the Board of Trustees. I have been facilitating and leading work with girls and young women since 2000 predominantly in the voluntary sector using creative drama and film to explore issues of oppression and challenging gender discrimination. I am delighted that since its inception in 2010 the Young Women’s Film Academy, it has grown from strength to strength becoming a charity in its’own right in 2018 and continues to provide all girls and young women, regardless of circumstances, the opportunity to engage in telling their story through film.

Lin Gatiss

Always an admirer of the YWFA and its ethos, I was thrilled to be asked to join the team and contribute to such a relevant grass roots and inclusive charity. Having witnessed first-hand the YWFA enhance and enrich the lives of individual girls and young women - instilling resilience, gaining new skills and recognising their own worth – I’m proud the academy gives a much needed voice to young females in the north east, as well as a rare opportunity to work alongside female industry professionals. My experience lies within the media, business and education sectors (25 years+) and as an International Development Officer, I now promote educational opportunities worldwide.

Fiona Scott

I’m Fiona Scott and I have been fortunate in my 19 year career to work with both voluntary and statutory organisations with young people and their families from diverse backgrounds.
As a qualified BACP Accredited Counsellor, I feel passionate about reducing the barriers and stigma that can still surround mental health and ensuring that young people have safe spaces that are freely accessible and have their voices heard. I strongly believe and have seen first-hand, how engagement in the creative arts and media are natural vehicles for young people not only to develop their skills in film, but also promoting self-confidence and interactions with peers; all of which are crucial in bolstering mental health and their holistic development.

Sarah Ralph

I am Sarah Ralph, and I was introduced to the YWFA in September 2017 after working with the academy on a film-in-a-day workshop for girls from two schools in Newcastle and South Shields. I moved to the North East in 2015 for my day job and felt like I had spiritually 'come home'! I am a Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Northumbria University, and my research, teaching and public engagement focus is gender, culture and the media. I am co-founder of Girl-Kind North East (with Dr Sarah Winkler-Reid from Newcastle University) – a project which takes a non-problem centred approach to working with girls and young women in the region. From 2012 - 2015 I conducted research on the British Television Comedy Industry, interviewing writers, directors, producers and other personnel and have published findings from this on intersecting issues of gender, age and ethnicity within the industry.

Denise Moura

I am Denise Moura and I joined YWFA in May 2018. While studying Journalism in 2003, I became involved in community projects in Brazil, supporting disadvantaged groups to speak out about their needs. By offering training and tools for them to set up their own news site the participants were empowered by telling their own stories and showing the world their perspective on various issues. After my graduation, I continued my academic life, studying the function of media industries and their impact on society. YWFA is for me the opportunity to empower young women from all backgrounds to express themselves while challenging inequality within the film industry.

Catherine Boland

I’m Catherine Boland and I joined YWFA in June 2019. In 2018 I changed careers following 27 years, having gained expertise in HR, Payroll and Finance with the Tangent Group. In my current role with Founders4Schools and Workfinder, I’m passionate to develop supportive links between education and business and committed to supporting the next generation in preparing for the transition from education into the workplace. I also hold voluntary roles as a North East LEP Enterprise Advisor, National Careers Week Ambassador and as a mentor for two female students with North East futures UTC and the Girls Network.

Wendy Richardson

I'm Wendy Richardson and for 30 years I’ve worked as a community arts practitioner, activist & film-maker. I believe that everyone should have access to the arts and as women we have a duty to support the next generation of girls. Since 2004, I’ve worked in a variety of roles in film & television, which led to making three documentaries about Joan Littlewood & how she opened a door in the arts to working class actors and audiences alike. I fully understand how tough it can be for female film-makers so I’m thrilled to be associated with the YWFA.

Lesley Rose

I am Lesley Rose, a freelance animator and artist working in the North east of England. I became involved with the Young Women’s Film Academy through running animation workshops with the group and was impressed by the mutual support and motivation of the young women. In my own practice, I have explored the themes of women and mental health and marginalised voices. I am very keen to support women to enter the film and animation industry.