Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Advice Corner | 5 Steps to Planning a Successful Conference

Planning a conference? We sat down with our Venue Team to lend their expertise in creating the perfect event.

Meet Laura, our Senior Administrator and all round 54-Events-Guru! As far as we’re concerned, what Laura doesn’t know about events isn’t worth knowing. Having started off as an apprentice in 2011, Laura is now responsible for project administration and compliance, as well as a key member of the venue team ensuring 54 operates smoothly.

And now she can add ‘Guest Blogger’ to her list of ever-growing talents, as she’s penned five tips on how to plan the perfect conference. Today we’re sharing tip 1 & 2, and we invite you to ‘tune in’ for part 2 next week, where we’ll reveal tips 3, 4 and 5.

Over to you Laura …

5 Steps to Planning a Successful Conference

First time organising a conference but don’t have a clue where to start? Or perhaps you just need some ideas and tools on how to create a successful conference?
Yes, conference planning may seem like a daunting task but if you have a clear vision in place and have the basics covered, you are only a stones throw away from meeting success!

Through my time working with the venue team at ’54 St James Street’, the flagship home of The Women’s Organisation, I have learnt a few of the key elements that are required in the planning stages of events, meetings, conferences and training. Here, I have put together the 5 areas which I believe are the most crucial steps towards planning a successful conference:

Step 1: Plan your Business Vision

“To plan with a vision is to plan with precision.” So, the starting point is always the vision and the business plan. Gather the team together for a meeting and start creating a basic plan to put your vision to paper:

  • Why are you planning a conference?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • How are you going to meet your objectives?
  • When would you ideally like it to take place? (Ideally, I would recommend starting to plan a year in advanced of your possible conference dates.)
  • Where is the preferred location for the conference to take place?
  • Who in the team will take what role in organising and what are their duties?
  • Then the big one is Budget, where will the money come from and how much can you spend?

Step 2: Pick your Date and Venue

Now, for the person whose job it is to pick the perfect conference venue, there are a number of important factors you may need to consider when choosing:

·        Accessibility -  Ask about local transport, disabled access, carparking, amenities and near hotels if needed.

·         Technical - Think about the I.T that is required for the day and find out if the venue has - projection screen, microphone & free Wi-Fi.

·         Size - You may not know the amount of people who will attend your conference yet, but if you have a target amount then this should help to pick the correct sized room. (Remember -the layout of the room you require will alter the amount of how many delegates it can seat, E.g. – cabaret, theatre, horseshoe.)

·         Availability - Is the venue going to be available on one of your preferred dates?

·         Catering & Refreshments - Does the venue have onsite catering and refreshments, or will you need to contract another service?

Ø  TIP: To help compare different venues and their facilities in the area, you may consider using a site such as Meetings Booker or for our city we have Liverpool Convention Bureau. However, note that if you do book through these sites to make the booking, then they will probably charge commission.  As well as this, arranging a viewing can be very helpful to gain a better picture of the conference facilities and meeting the onsite staff can be helpful to offer some ideas.

Yep – we weren’t lying when we said Laura knows her stuff! Thanks for lending us your expertise Laura.

If you’re looking to plan the perfect conference, why not check out our facilities at 54 St James Street? Our versatile Roddick Rooms can host between 10-120 people and provides a contemporary space for conferences, training, networking and more.

If you would like to arrange a visit or speak to our team for more information, please contact us on venue@thewo.org.uk or 0151 706 8100.

Be sure to follow 54 St James Street on Twitter and Facebook for news and updates on the building! 

Remember to visit our blog next week for part 2 on planning the perfect event!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Three Traits Of Brazenly Successful Female Entrepreneurs

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

However cliché this sounds, being your own boss is an alluring idea.

Research shows that some 97% of British women who started businesses wanted “more control over their work”, while 85% cited “flexible working conditions” as a key reason for kicking off their own business ventures. On top of that, our research at PeoplePerHour has uncovered that self-employed women earn 43% more per hour than employed women, making the opportunity to take the plunge even more compelling.

Although many women-led companies belong to the so-called “lifestyle businesses” category (most often by choice) and typically have limited scalability, those female entrepreneurs who set out to turn their small businesses into successful enterprises are more than capable of doing so.

According to Forbes, women entrepreneurs are able to rake in 20% more revenue with 50% less money invested. That’s impressive, considering the fact that women entrepreneurs still struggle to achieve venture-capital funding and angel investment. In fact, male entrepreneurs are 86% more likely to get funding and 56% more likely to secure angel investment. Interestingly, only 23% of female founders have seen their business fail, compared to 34% of male entrepreneurs.

In the recent years, we’ve seen a number of unabashedly successful and inspiring women entrepreneurs step onto the world’s business stage. From Sara Blakely, founder of SPANX, to Julia Hartz, co-founder & CEO of Eventbrite and such iconic figures as Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post, starting new businesses (check out Thrive Global) -- the ranks of women entrepreneurs is growing fast and confidently.  

So here’s a question for you.

Why is it that women can bring in more profit with less investment, keep their businesses afloat even in the hardest of times and increase business profitability just by...being on the board of executives?

Research points to these three character traits often exhibited by female entrepreneurs.


Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

More than 50% of UK businesses fail within the first five years. Success doesn’t come easy even to the most talented and experienced entrepreneurs, and, on top of all the common struggles, female entrepreneurs also face some business challenges that are unique to their gender, such as gender-bias, bigger workload, lack of opportunity in certain industries and limited funding. To succeed in the business world, female entrepreneurs need to overcome a number of subtle challenges just to be taken seriously. However, this practice of pushing forward and the ability to take punches often contribute to boosting their confidence and inspiring them to work harder and persevere. Learning not to give up is one of the most important lessons in entrepreneurship.

Annita Roddick, the British-born entrepreneur and founder of The Body Shop, has started her socially-responsible business on a shoestring budget during the times when there weren’t many women in business and turned it into a sustainable cosmetics empire. She has once said, “If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.”


Women lead from the inside out, not from the top down. The ability to connect with those around them and adapt to new environments can be the one thing that separates leaders from managers. And it’s no secret that women consistently outperform men in emotional intelligence and outscore them in engaging their employees. Besides that, women leadership is directly linked to increased profitability.

A recent study conducted by the Westminster University that used unique data harnessed from PeoplePerHour freelance marketplace has revealed that female freelancers are nearly 20% more likely to win a project than their male counterparts, in part due to their ability to leverage persuasion strategies.

Jessica Alba, the famous actress and co-founder of Honest Company, had initially struggled to get VC funding for her non-toxic products for kids business idea, until she revamped the business pitch leveraging her personal story as a “sickly child”. That immediately allowed her to connect with investors she approached, since they were starting families of their own and completely bought into her idea.  

That’s a lot of evidence pointing to one simple fact -- women’s superior emotional intelligence makes them great leaders, bosses and entrepreneurs.


There’s no hard scientific proof that women are more compassionate than men, but there’s solid evidence that men and women respond to stress differently. The “fight or flight” response is typical of men, whereas women lean towards a different approach -- “tend and befriend”. In stressful situations, women are much more likely to respond by connecting and bonding with others and socialising, which can be a huge advantage in a business environment. When the going gets tough, women leaders rely on social bonding and we-are-stronger-together kind of mindset, which is good for morale and ultimately, the bottom line.

One of the most famous female entrepreneurs, Arianna Huffington, has recently authored two books --The Sleep Deprivation and Thrive -- aiming to redefine success outside of money and power. This was all a result of her personal experience. Prior to writing the books and drastically changing the way she works, Huffington used to pull 18-hour days, seven days a week. Until the day she collapsed in her office from sleep deprivation and broke her cheekbone on the way down. She believes people need space to think, connect and strategize, “ ‘Restore connection’ is not just for devices,” says Huffington. “It is for people too. If we cannot disconnect, we cannot lead.”

Do you agree?

Don’t get me wrong -- possessing these three character traits doesn’t automatically make any women a great leader. But they do, undoubtedly, give women leaders an edge. All inspiring leaders, both men and women, must learn how to leverage their unique strengths and work on developing additional skills that can help them build successful companies.

What skills are you mastering to propel your business?

Juste Semetaite is a freelance copywriter and a content strategist. She helps dynamic brands like @PeoplePerHour tell their story through UNboring content (that’s a word she made up to tell her own story @uncopy.co.uk). She’s into coffee, books and other writer’s clichés.

Friday, March 16, 2018

"I Could Feel My Mood Lift Week By Week" - Linda Reflects on 'Change It' Experience

Change It: Progress to Success is all about empowering women to realise their true potential and turn that potential into success. We’ve met some fantastic women in the past year, all looking to make positive change in their life and begin building the future they really want.

We love nothing more than shouting about the successes of the women who have completed the programme. Today we’d like to introduce you to Linda, who recently recently completed Change It and has a wonderful story to tell ..

“My name is Linda, I’m 57 and I recently attended the “Change It” course. Someone who had completed the course highly recommended it to me, believing it had helped her so much.

At the time I was not in a very good headspace. Being a single parent for 18 years had not been an easy ride (as I am sure most single mums will relate to!). Financial struggles had, over the years, taken its toll and my confidence and self-esteem had taken a bit of a beating. However, I still had a bit of fight in me and, with the full support of my three children, I undertook a degree in English Language and Education Studies. My intention was to travel and teach English as a second language.

However, 5 days after completing my degree, a bad attack of sciatica left me on my stomach on the floor (literally) for almost 6 weeks. Long story short, I had severe disc problems in my back but surgery was too risky and I was told nothing could be done except for pain relief as and when needed. My hopes were dashed and I became quite severely depressed. Where did I go from here? 

I felt I had no sense of purpose (Wow, I’d forgotten how low I’d become until writing this!). Jobs I had done over the years had been to fit in around my kids and I really wanted it to be “my time” now they were young adults.

I attended a few therapy classes to help with my low mood; anxiety management, mindfulness, CBT and then became aware of “Change It” whilst attending one of these classes. The person who told me about it was so enthusiastic and really sold it so I thought I’d give it a go… and I was glad I did! Each session was filled with positivity. Our Tutor, Jenny was so good and each minute was packed with enjoyable exercises and delivered in such a thorough and professional way. We all got on so well and had lots of fun and l came away eager for the following week.

I honestly felt as though this course had been designed for me specifically. It was so reassuring to know that the way I had been feeling was not uncommon. I have always been a “glass half full” kind of person but was now full of self-pity and, to be honest, not liking myself very much. But, each session covered all of this and I could literally feel my mood lifted week by week. By the end of the five week course I felt that I could face what life has to offer, good or bad, and have the confidence once again to deal with it. 

Even my eldest daughter, who lives in Australia noticed a positive change in me each time we spoke via skype. She said I seemed so much happier now. And the best thing was that I didn’t feel like I would slip back as the sessions were full of achievement, challenges and action plans which I can refer to whenever I feel I need to.

I am now in a much better place emotionally; I feel I am taking back control of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I know I still have quite a way to go to full recovery but for the first time in years I feel hopeful again and am actually feeling excited about the next chapter of my life.

So, if you’re reading this and thinking “Is this course for me?” I would say to you “YES IT IS!” I would recommend this course for everyone, young or old, happy or sad. It will equip you with the necessary tools to improve (or maintain) your confidence and you will have such a fun time in the process, 

I promise!”

Thanks to Linda for sharing her incredible story!

We have a number of Change It programmes taking place in Liverpool’s Children’s Centres and here at The Women’s Organisation:

Speke, The Reach at Parklands, 10th April (5 sessions)

54 St James Street, 11th April (4 sessions)

Picton Children's Centre, 20th April (8 sessions)

54 St James Street, 16th May, (4 sessions)

If you’d like to find out more information about the programme or book a place, contact us on 0151 706 8111 or hello@thewo.org.uk and find out how we can support you.

Monday, March 12, 2018

✊♀️ ‘Women Are Our Sisters, Not Our Competition’ International Women's Day 2018 at The Women’s Organisation

As another International Women’s Day passes by we take our time to reflect on the day… and we can truly say this one was one of our favourites!

International Women’s Day is a day of coming together to support your fellow women and this is exactly what we did at 54 St James Street! We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who attended our event and got involved in celebrating International Women’s Day 2018 with us!

It's always a busy time for us at The Women's Organisation and this year was no exception - We were joined by over 80 women to celebrate the day and hear from our 4 Panelists (Jo Anderson, Jayne Smith, Councillor Liz Parsons and Michelle Charters) speaking at our International Women’s Day theme ‘Women are our sisters, not our competition’ which was all about the power and support that can be received from women in our lives and communities.

Our Panelists with CEO of The Women's Organisation Maggie O'Carroll and Event Chair Pamela Ball

Joined by our event chair Pamela Ball, our panel shared their backgrounds, times in which they had faced challenges and how they dealt with them, but also some light-hearted inspiring stories about the numerous women that had supported them and continue to support them in their life before opening the discussion up to our 80 guests.

Many topics were discussed during the 2-hour event ranging from education, getting involved within the local community and information on where to seek help and support.During the event we also asked our guests how they would pledge to #PressforProgress which was IWD2018’s key theme and here are some of the responses…

I, pledge to #PressforProgress by...
We asked our guests how the event changed their perception of other women and in what way and some of the responses included Get more involved in local politicsTo actively seek out some young women who I can coach and It reminds me that there are women out there willing to help, to challenge systems, to share skills and to ultimately support each other to succeed

They all sound absolutely brilliant!

We also received some great feedback from the women that attended our event:
I feel empowered!
Fabulous inspiring women making up the panel
Inspirational session
Look forward to connecting with The Women’s Organisation in the future
Brilliant day! Inspiring and empowering
Good day – inspiring and empowering

We had such a great day celebrating International Women's Day and happy that we could be in an environment full of inspirational women! 

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank LCVS Together for Liverpool for Good for funding our event, our panel and also the women who took their time to attend the day.

If you missed out on our International Women's Day Business Club event we have more events for you to catch at 54 St James Street:

Meet The Media - 18th April 2018 
Show Me The Money - 15th May 2018  

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

♀ ✊ Our International Women's Day Message to YOU ♀ ✊

It is nearly here! Our favourite day of the year…International Women’s Day! It is a day for celebrating, it is the day for coming together as women, it is a day to reflect upon how far we have come, but it is also the day of looking to the future and thinking about what we have yet to achieve…

If you are out enjoying the day, and there is so much to enjoy, remember we penned an official guide to International Women’s Day, so you can check out events across the city by taking a look at it here!

And now just a note from ourselves at The Women’s Organisation ahead of the special day…

This year our theme is ‘Women are my sisters not my competition’ and we want to take a few minutes to unpack what this really means.

You might have heard women say that sometimes their fiercest competitor has been another woman or that climbing a career ladder or in their personal lives, it has been the words of a woman that have hurt or stung them

In 2010 Kelly Valen released a hard-hitting book entitled; The Twisted Sisterhood, revealing that almost 90% of the 3,000-plus women taking part in her survey felt “currents of meanness and negativity emanating from other females” and almost 85% of those taking part admitted having suffered “serious life-altering knocks at the hands of other women”

And according to a poll by Oxygen media 65% of women resent other women who are either in power or act like they are.

We say….Enough is enough!

These truths could be due to a lack of understanding of each other’s social and economic challenges, lack of cultural awareness, an ongoing culture of competition, media influence, increasing use of social media for harassment and campaigns of hatred, and many, many more reasons.

We at The Women’s Organisation are determined to tackle this!

We know that the most incredible and powerful change occurs when women work together. When women support each other we can change the world. Take a look at the women’s marches that have been happening across the globe, take a look at the Suffragettes, take a look at the women of Dagenham, take a look anywhere and you will see…

Women working together. Women supporting one another. Women lifting each other up. Women making positive and significant changes to the world around them.

“You can always tell who the strong women are. They are the ones you see building each other up, instead of tearing each other down”

And that’s what our theme this year is ALL about! Let’s be strong. Let’s work together. And let’s make change. Because we know that when that happens…We become unstoppable!

In the words of the incredible Sheryl Sandberg, founder of the ‘Lean In’ initiative;

“When a woman helps another woman, they both benefit. And when women celebrate one another’s accomplishments, we’re all lifted up. Together women can do more, go further, and change the world”

We’ll be sharing lots of tweets, Facebook messages and much more across all of our social media channels tomorrow so make sure to look out for what we’re talking about and join in the discussion!

Tweet us @TheWomensOrg & and join in the conversation using the hashtag 


 #WOIWD18 and #PressForProgress (The official International Women’s Day hashtag)

Have an amazing day!

The Women’s Organisation

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Integrity Is The Key To Business Success For The ADHD Foundation & Dr Tony Lloyd

 Last year the ADHD Foundation celebrated its 10th birthday. That’s a decade of commitment to; ‘improving life chances through better understanding and management of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)’ and what a decade it has been…

The ADHD Foundation, in their own words; ‘works in partnership with individuals, families, doctors, teachers and other agencies to improve emotional well-being, educational attachment, behaviour and life chances, through a better understanding and self-management of ADHD, ASD and related learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, Irlen’s Syndrome, dyscalculia and Tourette’s Syndrome.’

They also provide training to professionals and raise awareness to bring positive change and inclusion. One of their awareness raising activities you may have noticed if you happened to be waling down Church Alley in Liverpool city centre last year…200 colourful umbrellas suspended in the air as if they were floating down from the sky!

These huge splashes of colour that were there to raise awareness and understanding and encourage discussion around ADHD and autism, and aptly called; ‘The Umbrella Project’ Each individual umbrella was personally signed by children from St Oswald’s primary school in Old Swan, and across Merseyside, many of whom have ADHD, autism and other neurodevelopment conditions.

Dr Tony Lloyd, CEO of the ADHD Foundation said; ‘ADHD and autism are ‘umbrella terms’ for a whole variety of neurodevelopment difficulties, and we want to highlight that fact and challenge the stigma of what can be ‘invisible’ disabilities. The Umbrella Project is about reminding adults – be it parents, teacher or potential employees – that young people with ADHD are other conditions possess many gifts, talents and skills to offer their communities. Their condition is not a disabler, but an enabler, a superpower!’

The work that the ADHD Foundation is incredible and so important, and The Women’s Organisation feel lucky to have been able to support them over the past year to grow under our business growth programme; New Markets 2. Dr Tony Lloyd has been working closely with Enterprise Enabler, Ali McGrath and Senior Business Adviser, Janine Hyland on growing the business and accessing finance.

Ali says; ‘We’ve helped Tony with refinancing the business and been able to secure them funding and a significant grant with First Ark to help grow the business. Janine worked with Tony on a future-proofed growth business plan to assist in setting up a separate trading company CIC to generate new revenue for charity purposes so they are secure and sustainable for the coming years.’

Over the past ten years the ADHD Foundation has grown from strength to strength and at The Women’s Organisation it has been great to support that growth. During those ten years Tony told us that; ‘The business has grown from having a £90,00 turnover in 2010 to a £700,000 turnover in 2017-18 and we now have key partnerships across all sectors as well as being the leading provider of trainings to schools in the UK.’ 

And what is Tony’s key to success? He told us it was this…

‘Innovation! And…Having multiple income streams that weather any challenges to funding. Now, as a charity we have a strong business model. In my business journey I have learnt the importance of integrity. Integrity in business is everything, in the face of challenges being ‘values’ driven is an important motivator.’

And what plans does Tony have for the future of the ADHD Foundation…
‘We will continue to demonstrate that the Liverpool region is a model of excellence and that social capital is key to success.’

Dr Tony Lloyd and the ADHD Foundation were supported by The Women’s Organisation under our New Markets 2 programme for businesses focussing on business to business activity in the Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens, Knowsley and Halton) area who are ready to take their business to the next level, expanding their team and significantly increasing turnover.

AND...We've been told by Tony and the team to let you know that you should keep looking UP for the umbrellas as they are due to pop up again in the near future! 

For more information contact us on hello@thewo.org.uk or ring us on 0151 706 8111
You can find out more about the ADHD Foundation on their website, Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Love Letter to Liverpool’s Children’s Centres, from Mandy Meaghan

Over a year ago, we launched confidence-building programme Change It: Progress to Success, supported by the Big Lottery Fund and in partnership with Liverpool's Children's Centres. 

This partnership with the children's centres ensured that Change It would be delivered right in the heart of Liverpool's communities and in a safe space that supports all members of the family from tots, to teens to adults. 

Having spent so much time there, our 'Change It' Trainer Mandy has a few words to say on the importance of Children's Centres to local families and the wider community. So, we invited Mandy to do a guest blog! Have a read on her thoughts here .. 

They say the family is the glue that binds, but what happens if you don’t actually have a supportive family? Lets say, you are a parent trying to cope with a new born baby and the hardships now apparent in modern Britain – where do you go for family support?

I believe that the answer is children’s centres.

Not all parents have the support from their families, extended families and even neighbours in the street who would often be there to help out with advice, babysitting and a cup of sugar. Some may not have the luxury of the hands on grandparents to gain invaluable parenting advice – in fact, many  may be from a broken family and be experiencing poverty and isolation.

This is the very reason children’s centres exist; as an intervention to serve the poorest families in the poorest wards of England – that’s 4000 national spaces dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families.

Today, Children’s Centres are a hub of community engagement and activity that’s supported by local councils, family services, domestic abuse services, health services and adult learning services, all catering for the 21st century family.

For those of us who work with or use the Centres, we know of the extraordinary value they bring to thousands of women’s and children’s lives every day, and a recent Oxford University Study confirms it.

The fact that social isolation is no longer associated with the perils of the elderly is indicative of a society that is breaking down communities and dismantling the very core principles of the ‘glue that binds.’ Mums on their own with kids often experience a lonely existence, however, I have seen the very same mums lives turnaround completely by being part of another type of ‘family’ that operate under the roof of a purpose-built building where ‘everybody knows your name’.

It’s a place to share the joys and fears of being a new mum, the first tooth and steps, feeling proud that your child ate all their dinner and wondering what to do when the stress is too much to cope with. This is when then the children’s centres step up ... with a helping hand, not a judgemental finger wag.

It’s the place where everything is at, from financial advice, health tips, childcare support, maths and English classes, family link workers, contact centres for fathers to see their children and much more.

But as they say they are ‘not kids for long’ and we are ‘not just mums’. As the kids get older, we ask,  ‘what’s next for mum’? At the children’s centres mums can figure out just that through services such as CV support classes or career guidance sessions to smooth over that transition to work, training and education.

If getting a job is the crucial element then the Children’s Centres work with the Better Off Finance Team to advise on benefits and money management, so that mums don’t fall into any poverty traps.
If its education or training then the referral can be to Adult Learning Services and Liverpool City Careers and Guidance or attend the classes at the Children’s Centres from basic maths, English and ESOL and computers/ IT.

For some of those mums who feel they need the confidence to maybe change old habits and look to build a more positive future, then the Change It programme, supported by the Big Lottery Fund is definitely the next step.

The Women's Organisation have successfully provided this confidence building course for a year now with some great successes helping women from deprived communities achieve their goals of becoming who they are meant to be … successful, happy and fulfilled in whatever they desire. We run this programme in Liverpool’s children’s centres over eight sessions for two hours covering; assertiveness, thinking skills, learning styles, process of transition, negative beliefs, motivational skills and next steps to success.

So, what were the provisions available for mums before Children’s Centres? The answer is very little. In fact, before 1998 young mums used to be penalised and discriminated against instead of supported to be the best mum they can be. This is why we support the campaign to keep children’s centres open and available to those who need it most, in areas that need it more than ever and in the lives of mums that without them have no one.

Children’s centres are the invisible family that binds communities together.

For more information on Surestarts in your area click here.

If you think that this programme could be for you, we have a new batch of programmes starting in various venues around the city, and you can book your place now!

Everton Children's Centre, 19th February, 9:15am – 12pm (5 sessions)

Granby Children's Centre, 23rd February, 1.00pm - 3.45pm (8 sessions)

Speke, The Reach at Parklands, 10th April, 9:15am - 12pm (5 sessions)

54 St James Street, 11th April, 10am - 3pm (4 sessions)

Picton Children's Centre, 20th April, 9:30am - 11:30am (8 sessions)

54 St James Street, 16th May, 10am - 3pm (4 sessions)

For more information on the Change It Program contact a member of our team on 0151 706 8111 or hello@thewo.org.uk.