Thursday, October 19, 2017

Back On Track Are...On The Right Track With Excelerate Labs Support!

We just love getting reports from our Manchester Business Advisers and this latest case study about Back on Track is no different! Back on Track were supported by Business Adviser; Ameena Ahmed under our Manchester growth programme; Excelerate Labs and here’s what they have to say…

‘Back on Track is a Manchester charity that enables disadvantaged adults to make lasting positive changes in their lives.’

It was formed in 1977 and is based in Manchester’s Northern Quarter where they work with adults who are going through a process of recovery or rehabilitation, having been through problems with alcohol or drugs, offending, homelessness and mental health.

Sioban Pollitt, their Chief Executive and Services Manager said; ‘Our projects at Back on Track enable people to build the skills they need to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.’
Ameena worked with Siobhan and also, Kate Downes, who is responsible for the development and direction of the café at Back on Track, as the organisation celebrated its 40th birthday!

Back on Track operates through delivering training courses either at their training centre or on outreach courses, it also offers clients volunteering opportunities and work experience. As well as this they have an amazing on site café; Swan Kitchens – which is staffed by volunteers and service users.

‘Back on Track is our in house café – staffed by those who are rebuilding their lives after problems with homelessness, substance misuse, mental health and offending. Swan Kitchen offers real work experience opportunities and a chance to explore a career in catering.’

Ameena worked with Back on Track to explore planning for a new food outlet in Manchester City Centre, building on the experience that they had with Swan Kitchens. She worked with them to produce a three year business plan that would specifically focus on this social enterprise project and fit into their wider plan as a charity too!

Siobhan and Kate hoped to create this food outlet which would target the health and wellbeing of shoppers and tourists in the city as well as becoming a trainer and employer to the adults that received support from Back on Track – A great plan for the growth of this business!

Siobhan told us; ‘The help we received from Ameena was fantastic! It enabled us to articulate our plans for our catering social enterprise. Already now we have implemented the first stage of our expansion by employing two catering assistants, both of whom have lived experience of some of the issues we address at Back on Track.’

So it’s great to see that the plans are in place for Siobhan, Kate and the rest of the team at Back on Track, to expand in the very near future!

If you’d like to find out more about Back on Track, you can do so by using the contact details below!

Phone Number: 0161 834 1661
And if you’d like to find out how we can support your Manchester based business – then get in touch with us today! For more information about the project please contact

The Women’s Organisation is proud to lead the way in innovative business growth support through our new programme 'Excelerate Labs'.  The programme open to men and women running a business in a B2B sector will enable businesses in Greater Manchester to innovate, diversify and grow creating new jobs.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Business Club gets SALES SAVVY With the Retail Biz Queen

October’s Business Club was all about perfecting your sales strategy in time for the Christmas season. And we were joined by Retail Consultancy Expert, Vicky Powell-Carden, to lend us her expertise in achieving retail success.

What Vicky Powell-Carden doesn’t know about sales isn’t worth knowing. Vicky has spent the last 20 years working with, and helping to build some of the UK’s largest, most successful retail brands, including; Matalan, Pound Stretcher, Home Bargains and Liverpool Football Club. 

She then decided to set up her own business, ‘Retail Business Queen Consultancy’, and use her experience to support small business. Vicky is passionate and knowledgeable and able to establish what customers want and need and implement a retail strategy to drive business success.

The biggest date in the calendar for most businesses is Christmas. Vicky hosted our October Business Club to inspire retail enthusiasm in our self-employed women in time for the most profitable months of the year. Vicky’s stance was that every business, no matter what your trade, can benefit from the Christmas season; “you can sell anything, it’s about the research you do and how you market it better than your competitors”.

Vicky’s three top tips included;
  1. Know your stock – make targets!!
  2. Develop a marketing plan – think ahead to forthcoming seasons
  3. ‘Spy’ (or benchmark as it’s more widely known) – constantly check on what your competitors are doing 

If you would like to find out more about Vicky’s services, head to 
You can also download her FREE 14-page e-book “10 Ways to Supercharge Your Retail Sales” here!

It was a great event which included some 60-second pitches from our members and of course, lots of time for networking.

Comments included;

“Amazing! Found Vicky’s talk really interesting and useful.”

“Vicky’s talk sparked some good ideas in me! Very interesting.”

“Today has been so informative and definitely gave me a boost of confidence. I was nervous to begin with as this is my first networking event – but everyone was so lovely and supportive.”

“Interesting to understand more about retail business and how selling, targeting and planning works.”

“Inspiring – this has motivated me again! Great group of women.” 

“Great networking – linked up with a few new contacts. Very interesting talk by Vicky.”

Thanks to Vicky and all of the wonderful women who attended. 

Our next event is LIVE. Celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week, we will be paying homage to ‘The Accidental Entrepreneur”, by introducing YOU to a panel of four business experts who will lead a discussion on mastering the crucial elements of your business, from marketing to strategizing, to sales – we’ve got it covered.

Join us to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week and ‘The Accidental Entrepreneur’ on Wednesday 15th November at The Women’s Organisation, 54 St James Street, L1 0AB.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

21 Years | 21 Women | We Need Your Help!

This year has been a pretty special one for The Women’s Organisation, it marks our 21st birthday!

That’s 21 years of supporting women. 21 years of celebrating their successes. And 21 years of being inspired, every single day by the women we get to surround ourselves with.

Over the past 21 years, we have…
  • Offered support to more than 50,000 women around enterprise and employment
  • Provided intensive enterprise support to more than 15,000 women
  • Helped to establish over 3,000 new businesses

And had an incredible journey along the way…And we think all of this is something to celebrate!

We’ve had a great year of celebrations so far, lots of cake and a few parties, but in the background we’ve been working away on something incredible.

The Women’s Organisation are producing a book!

This is going to be a book of interviews. Interview with 21 inspirational and empowering women across the region. And the list is nearly complete, apart from just one person.

And here is where we need your help.

We are looking for our 21st woman – And YOU know who she is!

If there is a woman in your life, or in your community, in your family or one of your friends. Whether she is your employer, your employee, or a woman you might have met only once – If you think she is simply empowering and inspiring – tell us who she is!

We are looking specifically for a woman who is living in Merseyside, so we can interview her and invite her to a photoshoot – but other than that, it’s down to you!

All you need to do is send us a few sentences about why you think they should be our 21st woman.

Email us on by Monday 13th November 2017 – and leave the rest to us! 

Any questions, give us a shout - email us or ring us on 0151 706 811

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Meet Our Not-So-New Team Member, Mandy Meaghan!

Mandy joined our team last November and we’ve only just managed to tie her down for a ‘Welcome to the Team’ blog. Mandy has been super busy delivering our Progress to Success programme in the community working out in Kensington, Fountains and Granby and helping the women of Liverpool to ‘Change It’. Mandy has made quite an impression on the office and has us laughing all day. She is definitely part of The Women's Organisation family, and if you haven't already met her, we'd like you to get to know her too.

What's your name and where are you from?

Amanda Louisa Meaghan and I am born and bred in Huyton Liverpool but have not lived there since I was 18 years old.

How did you find out about The Women's Organisation? 

I first met Maggie 21 years ago at Train 2000 when I was setting up my Health awareness through Comedy programs which ran for 14 years and yes a lot has happened since then.

I suppose if you are interested in Women focused initiatives in Liverpool or Merseyside then you are going to know about the WO so I always knew about what they did but had never had any direct dealings with them. Then a post came up for Women Development Training Officer and I applied and got the job.

What kind of things have you done prior to coming to the WO?

I set up a very successful Theatre In Health UK touring company called Alltalk Productions producing award winning health presentations using drama and comedy to highlight awareness of for cervical, breast and testicular cancers. I left the stage for a more quiet life and set up my own personal development training company running programs for the NHS, Community Organisations, Workers Educational, Adult Learning Services, Connexions and other public organisations. I have in-fact always worked for myself until my job here at the Women’s Org and after being here for eight months I absolutely love it here.

What has surprised you about working at the Women’s Org?

As a Training and Development Specialist I suppose what surprised me most was the different types of training I would be delivering from personal development teaching on the Change It program for women, to building a social media strategy for those women who are developing their own businesses. I also train Business planning, Be a more confident you and Start up business conferences. There is so much going on here it’s full of new ideas and initiatives and if you are a woman with a business idea then this is where it’s at. When you work for the Women’s Org you really do feel like you are part of the family they are just so nice.

Could you describe one of your workdays?

As my job is varied (as I like it) I can be chocker block on business training days generally starting at 8:30 am to plan the sessions which are generally full to the brim and on other days I can be delivering in the Change It course in the Children’s Centres, this is a personal development program that gives women the skills to change their lives and gain the confidence to become what they want to become. I love it.

What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?

Well when I was young about 15 years old I used to block ballet and tap dance and also I’ve had 102 driving lessons so hence I don’t have a car.

What do you do when you aren’t working?

As a mother of three kids (oldest is now travelling in Australia) I spend a lot of time bossing them about and sorting their lives out. I am a new fan of Game OF Thrones so lately I’ve been indulging in Box set mania. I love to swim and walk around Liverpool’s exceptional parks and am now considering a new physical activity …Salsa so watch this dance space. 

Thanks Mandy! We love having you here at The W.O. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

‘Just Leap!’ – How Emma Started Her Own Business; Sweet Pea & Little Wolf

Sweet Pea & Little Wolf – this business name conjures up all sorts of lovely images in your mind, and meeting Emma Purchase, you’d think just the same thing! Emma, the founder of Sweet Pea & Little Wolf, who recently gave an inspiring speech at our Summer Social Business Club, is just that – inspiring and a breath of fresh air!

Just look at how she describes her business!

‘Sweet Pea brings the delicious range of herbal tea, Little Wolf brings the neat range of wanderlust themed enamel mugs, clothing and accessories. Together they make the ultimate team.’
Emma and her girls! 
But we all know being self-employed and running your own business is A LOT of hard work, but for Emma she faced challenges, some bigger than other head on, and her story of how she set up Sweet Pea & Little Wolf, is a truly motivational one!

Emma told us; ‘I decided to start up my own business for a few reasons. I am a single mother to 4 beautiful strong girls, and I have a need to show them that with a lot of determination and hard work you can achieve something amazing! And I also needed to be more financially independent and this is one of the reasons that spurs me on when I’m working away into the early hours!’

Some of Emma's lovely stock! 
But there were other even deeper reasons which motivated Emma to start her own business. When her Father became ill with Motor Neurone Disease she felt even more motivated; ‘It really did shock me into realising that time is very limited!’ And she came up with some rules for herself;

‘You have to use your time sensibility, push boundaries, get outside your comfort zone and take risks!’

And take risks she did! For Emma even setting up her business was a big risk! And she told us; ‘One of my big struggles was having absolutely no capital. None! I’m a single mum and a student, so I had to think smart, use the resources that I did have and work harder than most, never giving up!’
Emma's clothing modelled
These challenges lead to Emma getting in touch with The Women’s Organisation where she was paired up with Senior Business Adviser; Claire Pedersen, and she had some lovely things to say about the work she did with Claire!

‘For every no I got from every other avenue, Claire said yes! She said ‘Yes, we can do this, there has to be away around this’ I now consider Claire a friend and her support and advice has been priceless. It was so nerve racking trying to always push forward, but having Claire’s support was amazing.’

So, whilst working alongside The Women’s Organisation, Emma was continually striving to build her business more and more, and her tenacity and determination is unparalleled, facing all barriers head on! 

Emma told us; ‘One problem I found was not having a car, so I usually try and hump most of my bags and stock on the bus which is quite comical! And I’ll walk for miles with my stock to save money too!’

More of some of Emma's lovely gifts
Now things are going well with her business, and Emma is able to rent out spaces in four different shops to sell her stock in! (Gifts For Me & You, Practical Magic Vintage, Red Brick Vintage and Siren) and spend her days doing what she loves!

Emma told us; ‘The best thing about starting up my own business is being a bit more in control of my time so I can spend it with my daughters! Also, it’s about having that pride in my work, when I see someone wearing my t-shirt, it is so rewarding!’

AND – What advice can she offer anyone else who is thinking about taking a leap, and starting their own business?

‘Just make the start! We all put things off. Sometimes we are too scared to make the first step, but seriously…Life is way too short – Just leap!’

You heard Emma…Just leap!

And if you’d like extra support taking the leap, we are here to help you! If you’d like to access our advice and training for starting your own business then email us on or ring us on 0151 706 8111

We Are Proud To Be A Disability Confident Employer!

This week we are delighted to announce that The Women’s Organisation has been awarded the Disability Confident Employer Award, and we wanted to take a little bit of time to tell you all about this important scheme…

The Disability Confident Employer scheme is helping thousands of employees across the United Kingdom, and is designed to help employers recruit and retain disabled people and people with health conditions for their skills and talents, and they say; ‘Being Disability Confident could help you discover someone your business just can’t do without.’

We 100% agree with this sentiment, and are proud to have been awarded this certification. Diversity and inclusivity is at the heart of The Women’s Organisation vision and values and we work hard to input these into our everyday working life and culture.

Through the Disability Confident scheme, thousands of employers are…

Challenging attitudes towards disability

Increasing understanding of disability

Removing barriers to disabled people and those with long-term health conditions

Ensuring that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations

So as a Disability Confident Employer we have…

Undertaken and successfully completed a Disability Confident self-assessment

Are taking all of the core actions to be a Disability Confident employer

Are offering at least one activity to get the right people for our business and at least one activity to keep and develop our people

IF you’d like to find out more about this scheme as an employer and employee – then you can do so here! We are proud to be a Disability Confident employer and we are always looking for ways to continue developing our core values of diversity and inclusivity. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

"What Would It Mean For Your Business If You Lost Your Voice?" - Su Grainger (Guest Blog)

Client of The Women's Organisation, Su Grainger, is taking over our blog today! Su is a Voice and Presentation Coach at Vocal Power Training and is passionate about helping others discover their own unique voice. Su helps clients combat fears of public speaking with confidence, deal with physical and emotional nervousness, and trains indivisuals to be more confident in personal and work related situations.  

"Even for a day or a few hours? Would it affect your business if you were unable to attend a meeting, make a phone call, or talk about your services? Have you thought about the health of your voice before? If you have, maybe you didn't think there was anything could do about it? I have found most people dont give it a second thought until they have a throat infection, bad cold or laryngitis.

They are extreme cases but most of us in business would like to sound and feel confident throughout the whole day. Some people find their voice isn't good in the morning and can take a few hours to sound and feel normal, whilst others feel it gets worse the more they talk so by the end of the day it can be a struggle. Maybe you dont have specific physical vocal problems but would like to sound more confident, project without shouting or change the way you sound when you talk.

The good news is your voice can be strengthened and exercised and there are many ways in which you can avoid vocal weakness and loss.

As well as courses on Fear of public speaking, Vocal confidence and communication skills, Vocal Power Training run courses specifically on how to look after your voice.

If you would like to learn more then this is the course for you

Your Voice - Health, Strength, Sound & confidence master-classes

Do you understand how your voice works? Would you like to strengthen and develop your voice? Do you ever experience hoarseness, raspiness, cough regularly or lose your voice from time to time ?

Does it appear weak or doesn't sound or feel right?

If you speak regularly in your work, over the phone, in meetings, during presentations or to clients then this workshop is ideal for you to look after and develop your voice.

Vocal Power training will teach you how to

Understand your voice
Learn how it works,
Take care of your voice
Strengthen and develop your range
Learn how to project and increase volume without shouting
We have a small number of participants on each workshop so you will have plenty of opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns about your own voice. You will also be given specific advice and an exercise plan to work through once you have attended

We will be running one to one or half day courses throughout the year. or arrange a skype consultations

Morning or evening sessions are available on all dates

Morning 9.30am to 1pm

Evening 5.00pm to 9pm

Cost £50


Thursday 19th October Vocal health, strength and sound

Thursday 26th October Vocal health strength and sound

Thursday 9th November Fear of public speaking Full day 9.30am to 4.30pm £75

Thursday 23rd November Vocal confidence and communication skills Full day 9.30am to 4.30pm £75"

You can contact Su for more information on or 07717181826! Thanks for guest-blogging Su.