Tuesday, June 27, 2017

‘Change It’ and ‘Progress to Success’ this Summer with our Confidence-Building Programme!

We have been helping the women of Liverpool ‘Change It’ and ‘Progress to Success’ through our confidence-building programme, and we are now delighted to announce two more dates for August and September.

Our personal development and confidence building is designed to help you see your true potential and turn that potential into success. Whatever age, background or stage of life you are at, this programme will help you build positively for your future.

The programme covers many topics including becoming more assertive and breaking negative thinking habits in order to develop a more positive outlook in all aspects of life. ‘Change It: Progress to Success’ enables you to identify the clear and practical steps to take in order to build a better world for yourself at work, at home and in relationships. 

We caught up with ‘Change It’ Trainer, Jenny, who said: “We all lose our confidence at some stage in life – ‘Change It: Progress to Success’ helps you learn more about yourself, plan for the future you want and rebuild that confidence one step at a time. On this programme, I have met so many women from different backgrounds who have each faced challenges for various reasons, and being a part of their journey and watching them grow in self-esteem has been a privilege.”

We also caught up with Vicky from the last cohort of ‘Change It: Progress to Success’, she said: “Jenny was my trainer for the Change It Course and she was brilliant, she was very supportive and offered many open doors. Jenny is the type of person you would like as a friend! Thank you anyway to The Women's Org, absolutely immense!”

Our confirmed August and September dates will both run for 4-weeks at 54 St James Street, home to The Women’s Organisation. The dates are as followed:

Wednesday 2nd August 2017, 10am-3pm (Following three weeks: 9th, 16th, 23rd)

Wednesday 20th September 2017, 10am-3pm (Following three weeks: 27th, 11th, 18th
*please note there is a one-week break in this course after week 2

This programme also runs from a number of Children’s Centres in Liverpool. We will be releasing more details on these venues and dates in due course.

If you are a woman and would like to book a place or find out more about the programme, please contact our engagement team on 0151 706 8111 or email hello@thewo.org.uk.

If you are an organisation and would like to refer someone onto the programme, or contact a member of the Change It team about opportunities, please contact a member of our engagement team on 0151 706 8111 or email hello@thewo.org.uk.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Marking 21 Years of The Women's Organisation and our Collaboration with dot-art 🎈

2017 marks 21 years of The Women’s Organisation. Never one to shy away from a party, we celebrated this milestone alongside those who have helped us along the way. 

We were joined by a whole host of people, from clients to tenants, local businesses and local authorities, our Baltic neighbours and Board Members, partners to funders and anyone else that has played a part in our history and success.

The occasion also honoured our collaboration with local, independent art gallery, dot-art. Some of you may have noticed the artwork that has appeared around 54 St James Street, a flagship facility for women and business.

For the next 18 months, our lovely building will double up as an art exhibition, showcasing the work of local artists Joanne Thompson and Olga Snell. We were joined by Founder of dot-art Lucy Byrne, who championed art as an integral part of everyday life and detailed some of the huge benefits of art in the workplace.

As our guests headed around the building to view the artwork, the artists were on hand to offer an insight into the thought behind the artwork.

We also had a speech from CEO of The Women’s Organisation, the incredible Maggie O’Carroll. Anyone who’s had the pleasure of meeting our Maggie will know that she has a way with words and can capture the eyes and mind of every person she speaks to. And she certainly didn’t disappoint – on 21 years of The Women’s Organisation, Maggie said: “I really have no comment to make because I can't remember most of it". 

Our Chief of Finance, Helen Millne, made sure to grab the mic and acknowledge Maggie’s incredible leadership and dedication to achieving women’s economic equality.

Maggie may be modest – but we’re happy to shout her amazing successes on her behalf. Maggie O’Carroll is an inspirational woman that has paved the way for equality and change in her own indomitable way. For 21 years, Maggie has devoted her time to levelling the playing field for women in all aspects of life.

From day one, our mission has been to ensure that women have a voice at the highest level, in business, community, political life, and in the wider world. At 21 years, we celebrate having impacted the lives of over 50,000 women, locally, nationally and internationally. However, Maggie reminded us that whilst we celebrate our success and the positive impact we have had, we still have an incredibly long way to go.

Thanks to all those who joined us yesterday and an even bigger thank you to every person who has played even the smallest role in the history and success of The Women’s Organisation. Here’s to 21 more …

The artwork is displayed throughout the building including at Reception, Siren communal areas and meeting rooms. So, if you pay us a visit anytime soon, please remember to take a look at the artwork and let us know what you think!

You can check out the photos from the event here.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Training Coordinators Jenny & Mandy Had Picnics In The Park With LMH!

Two wet weekends in May - and two different picnics with Liverpool Mutual Homes! 

Training Coordinator Jenny attended LMH's Picnic in the Park in Princes Park in June along with our advice stand and Guess The Bear competition. And Training Coordinator Mandy attended LMH's Picnic in the Park in North Liverpool's Stanley Park!

Mandy said; ‘It was one of those rainy days in North Liverpool but that didn’t stop the fun! As a mum of three kids I don’t think we have ever missed this event as it has become the one that myself and the local residents really look forward to. However, on this weekend I attended as a stallholder ready to give out information about services and training that we at The Women’s Organisation can offer to local people.’

‘There were many who passed through our information tent gathering the leaflets and taking refuge from the deluge of rain that was pouring down! But the rain didn’t put people off asking for information on how to set up a business and ask for the details of our new personal development programme; Progress to Success; Change It, which is proving to be a huge success for the women of Liverpool!’

‘So, yes it was raining but that did not dampen the North Liverpool spirit and judging by the many requests for start-up advice, we were glad to be there!’

For Jenny's day the main event was choosing the winner of Barnaby the Bear! The residents of the Princes Park area were invited to guess the name of the Bear (which had been chosen by WO staff in the office) and young James correctly guessed Barnaby!

All in all, two great days out at Stanley Park and Prince Park – thanks so much to Liverpool Mutual Homes for inviting us to be part of these events. 

Liverpool Mutual Homes are strategic partners of the Enterprise Hub project. Enterprise Hub is the enterprise gateway for business start-up support in Liverpool City Region, offering expert advice and support to those who are thinking about starting a business. Enterprise Hub is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

DIGA Project Resources Now Accessible for Enterprise Trainers and Educators

Over the past two and a half years, partners of the Erasmus+ DIGA -  Digital Innovations for Growth Academy - Project have been developing an innovative learning programme for enterprise trainers and educators (ETEs).  

Recognising how digital technology is rapidly transforming how people communicate, learn, work and manage new enterprises and its central role in personal and professional contexts, the DIGA Project partners are delighted to share the resources they have developed.

DIGA Project Partners at their latest meeting, Kaunas, Lithuania, May 2017

The DIGA Learning Programme is designed to support colleagues delivering vocational education and training in the fields of entrepreneurship and business development so that entrepreneurs and small business owners better integrate digital technologies into their business start-up and development activities.

Our DIGA Learning Programme has been informed by extensive research into the needs of enterprise learners, teachers, advisers and entrepreneurs.

 It is structured into 5 modules:
  • Enhancing Digital Awareness and Knowledge
  • The Role and Use of Digital Technologies and their Benefits to Business
  • Making Digital Deliver for the Start-up and Small Business
  • Enabling and Supporting the Development of an Entrepreneurial Digital Strategy
  • Designing Integrated (Digital Competence) Entrepreneur Support / Programmes

Each module involves information and knowledge, as well as small group and individual activities. Reports, case studies and a range of learning tools are integrated throughout.

The DIGA Learning Programme is available in Bulgarian, English, Lithuanian, Slovenian and Spanish. Visit the official DIGA Project website for more information and to access the learning recources.

The research and publications underpinning our work are also available, including reports and briefing papers by Dr Briga Hynes from University of Limerick and DIGA Project partner leading research activities.

As the DIGA Project enters its final stages to an end, we are pleased to have worked on such a great programme alongside our partners.

To find out more about DIGA Project check out our new videos in 6 languages and head to http://digaproject.eu/videos/. You can also follow DIGA on Twitter.

After Craving A Career In Counselling, Alison Simone Left Behind her Retail Management Job And Pursued Her Interest In Counselling; Pineal Counselling.

Alison decided to follow her dream and start up her counselling business.  Pineal Counselling is a counsellor / psychotherapist business offering a mobile facility in Runcorn, Warrington, Widnes and surrounding areas. 

Alison’s business motto is, ‘To see the light again, and to feel, without confusion. To end the turmoil and again walk in sunshine.’

Once Alison decided to take the plunge, she took her first steps to business by designing and setting up a website. As well as this, Alison designed flyers and business cards to promote Pineal Counselling.  Setting up her own website was the biggest obstacle. 

However, after receiving various help from The Women’s Organisation, Alison soon got to grips with the visual aspect of her business. The Women’s Organisation helped Alison to create flyers and tackle the initial daunting financial part of her business.

Alison has gained many qualifications that compliment her business. She has attended Riverside college, Halton and Staffordshire University, attaining Counselling level one and two. As well as this, Alison has recently achieved her Foundation Degree in counselling.

Business is currently going slowly for Alison but she has high hopes for things to progress. The best thing about running for own business is Arranging the timing to suit myself (weekends off).’ 

So far, Alison feels ‘Brilliant!’ about what she has achieved since starting up her business. In terms of the future, Alison hopes that once she has achieved her BSc Hons, her business will continue to progress.

If you are interested in the services Alison offers, you can contact her on:

Email: pineal.counselling@sky.com

If you've been inspired by Alison's story and would like support and advice to start your own business, then contact us! Email us on hello@thewo.org.uk or ring us on 0151 706 8111

Caz's Kitchen | A Cake Institution 🍰

Caz’s Kitchen is an institution. 

If you haven’t heard of this little nugget of gold located on St John’s Road in Waterloo, where have you been? Caz’s Kitchen might be defined by some as simply a cake shop, but to those who know, it is so much more than that!

Photo Credit: Mark McNulty
Caz and her team supply cakes to local restaurants, coffee shops and delis, but customers can also enjoy her gorgeous cakes in her quirky little premises. Caz also sells whole cakes, desserts, tartes, tortes, cheesecakes and puddings, plus cake platters and cake towers for parties and functions and even wedding cakes!

But Caz’s speciality is cakes for specific dietary requirements, what’s so unique about Caz’s cakes is that they are REAL. She uses nothing artificial in her cakes, choses butter over margarine and the flavours come from in-house roasted nuts, Belgian couverture chocolate and fruits from her allotment. In fact, everything about Caz herself, her kitchen and her team is REAL. When we visited Caz at her Waterloo premises on St John’s Road she told us; ‘We are passionate about ‘proper’ cake. Good food is good for the soul and a well-deserved treat (not a chemical cake from the supermarket) is a beautiful thing!’

As well as real, proper cake, Caz has also developed a range of innovative treats, her HappyHealthyYum range; ‘These are gluten free, dairy free, vegan, refined sugar free treats that are designed to fill you up and satisfy you with slow releasing energy and are chock full of superfood, vitamins and minerals.’ – So, it seems that you can have your cake and eat it too with Caz!

The journey to Caz’s Kitchen has been a long one though, and we were delighted to sit down with the woman herself; Caroline Hill, and get the full story!

Before Caz started her business, she graduated with a degree in Food Science & Nutrition and began to work in the field of Product Development, working on new products for most of the major retailers starting with a job in Safeways and then moving on to developing chilled desserts for Marks & Spencer.

‘I was the person that worked with a chef on a kitchen recipe then project managed that recipe to become mass producible. I would work alongside buyers, a production team and technical and engineering departments to taste recipes in a test kitchen and then the pilot plant before they went into full production.’

Matt Wilkinson Photography
Caz says that when she first started this job there was a massive buzz when she would see her products on the supermarket shelves at the end of an exhausting project. But, things began to change. Caz began working for a smaller company and found that the job became less about researching the marketplace adequately and all the other details and processes that make up developing a proper product, it became more about the bottom line.

‘When I started my career in Product Development I was developing 10 products over the space of a 6-month critical path. By the end I was juggling 200 products with a 3-week turnaround from concept to launch. And the products that were being launched were rubbish.’

Caz is a pro-independent, massive foodie who is down to earth, friendly, unpretentious, caring and ethical, so it might not come as much of a surprise that she decided at this point, a future of developing products from big brand supermarkets wasn’t for her!

This was over 10 years ago, next Caz decided she would try and set up her own business, a coffee shop and deli and she got in touch with The Women’s Organisation, back when were known as Train 2000, and we helped Caz with a business plan. Now she is back in the fold of The Women’s Organisation again, working closely with Senior Business Adviser; Claire Pedersen on our growth programme; New Markets 2.

But, rewind to 10 years ago when Caz began working on her own business plan; ‘A deli and coffee shop in my local community. It would be ethical, it would be cosy, it would support other local businesses and it would be healthy and wholesome.’

Caz negotiated on numerous premises for this business, after a few years and a series of knockbacks she started to feel that maybe it just wasn’t to be; ‘I was starting to run out of steam on hunting for the right place, it was all consuming; planning and hunting and failing to be successful in bidding for properties for one reason or another. So I just put it out of my mind for a while.’

During these years Caz worked for numerous start-up foodie businesses in Liverpool and small businesses that were looking to develop; ‘I was working on and off for various SME’s in all aspects of their business, office, front of house and cheffing. I was enjoying assisting other people with their start-ups and offering help and advice in the areas that I have good knowledge of from my years in the food industry. As well as this I was also gaining more relevant experience within the independent sector.’

Caz now sees this as invaluable as it formed the perfect building block on which to base her own business. ‘I actually started baking from home alongside my day job as a bit of a favour to a friend. I never at that point thought it would become a full-time thing! But actually, it suited me as I’m generally less of a cheffy chef and more of a control freak with my cooking, a tip of the hat to how I was trained working for the supermarkets, always working to very strict specifications and recipes.

‘Baking was something that combined my love of food but also my nature of precision and accuracy. Baking is a science and I have a Food Science degree! It was then that the thought of baking as a way to earn a crust was born.’

As word spread about Caz’s cakes and the contracts increased, she took the plunge and after 3 years of baking from home moved to the premises on St Johns Road in Waterloo. The name ‘Caz’s Kitchen’ was derived from the fact that it did start in her own kitchen!

Caz then got back in touch with The Women’s Organisation and began to work with Claire on our growth programme; New Markets 2. Claire said; ‘When I met Caz her business was doing really well, but she was still running as a sole trader. She needed to professionalise her systems and image and bring it all band up to date with where she is currently with her business. She also wanted to grow and expand the wholesale side of her business. We developed a strategy for growth starting with updating and formalising some current systems, looking a timeline for a rebrand and a new website to be built.’

And Caz has been receiving some fantastic feedback from her customers; ‘We have been blown away with the encouragement and support. Honestly, I am humbled by the positivity surrounding the shop, it means everything to us.’ Because for Caz, it’s not about the hard sell and she says; ‘Our marketing strategy has been more of a whisper than a shout.’ But it’s one that worked, she has a fiercely loyal customer base and is passionate about providing the best for her customers, with their happiness being her priority rather than profit or growth.

Matt Wilkinson Photography
Caz adds; ‘What’s unique about my business is that it is genuine. I haven’t created a business idea to generate money or jump on a bandwagon. It’s something that has come as a natural progression from my previous work. It’s just like everything has come together as a happy coincidence, at the right time for me personally and the right time for my community. I do truly believe that the reason I have such a lovely bunch of supportive customers is because they see the authenticity in me and the shop.’

‘I’m extremely conscious of providing more than just cake. I want all our customers to feel well looked after, welcomed and appreciated. I want to add to my local community and for customers to feel they are very much a part of my business, to put smiles on their lovely faces.’

And what is Caz’s key to success? What would her advice be for other business women? ‘If, at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. I pushed so hard to get my first business off the ground and everyone who knows me knows the trials and tribulations I went through trying to set up that business.’

‘In the end I did launch one! Granted it wasn’t the one I was expecting, but in hindsight it was the perfect one for me, combining lots of aspects of my previous work, experience, education and hobbies. I’ve had my allotment for 15 years and never expected to use it as part of my business. It’s also really satisfying to use my nutrition degree and product development experience to create the healthy eating cakes.’

So, what is next for Caz and her kitchen? Caz told us that she would like to just continue along the road that she is already one, and it’s a successful road! ‘I want to carry on doing the best I can for my customers, my staff and my community and continue to support other local businesses and charities. Every day is a school day and I’m learning all the time about how to run a better business.;

So, if you would like to visit Caz and try some of her cakes, and believe us, they are INCREDIBLE, you can find all of Caz’s details over on her website and by following the links below. And if you’ve been inspired by Caz’s story and would like to find out how we can help you start or grow your business, get in touch with us! Email us on hello@thewo.org.uk or ring us on 0151 706 8111

Email - info@cazkitchen.co.uk  
Address - 47 St John's Road, Waterloo, Liverpool, L22 9QB

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Anastasia's Story: Taking Steps to Mental Health Recovery Through 'Change It: Progress to Success'

We caught up with Anastasia, who completed our first round of ‘Change It; Progress to Success’, to find out her thoughts on the programme and see what she’s up to now. 

Anastasia is a mother of two, her son is aged 5 and has been diagnosed with Autism, and her daughter now nearly 3. Originally on a zero-hours contract, Anastasia has been out of work since entering maternity leave when pregnant with her first child; “I tried doing voluntary work between my two pregnancies but the time wasn’t right. I was under a lot of stress as a first-time mother and a single parent with no family support”. 

Feeling the strain of juggling so much at once, Anastasia neglected herself and couldn’t control her moods or behaviour, “I was spiralling into psychosis and when my younger child was only four months old I had to spend a month in a mental hospital”.

However, 2 years on and Anastasia is working towards recovery and on a personal journey of hope and empowerment. She is finding meaning to life through engagement with others, developing new supportive relationships and furthering her skills and learning.

Anastasia signed up to ‘Change It; Progress to Success’, a programme led by The Women’s Organisation that supports women into feeling more positive about what they can achieve. Here she met our Trainer, Alison, who she was full of praise for: “Alison was open about how various difficult experiences in her life had impacted her, and this helped us to speak about our own stories”. Anastasia enjoyed being part of a ‘warm circle of like-minded women’, meeting up weekly and tackling new topics such as assertiveness, positive thinking and how to manage change.

For Anastasia, the hardest part was putting her new skills into practice once leaving the session, “this is where you need motivation to combat your negative thinking – it takes you out of your comfort zone”. She valued the fact that every woman who attended the programme had a different background and story to tell as they were able to learn from each other. Anastasia also appreciated the option of one-to-one support from her tutor, Alison, as she felt this allowed each woman to reflect individually and move at their own pace.

So how did the course help Anastasia? She now uses personal development as her motivation for making positive changes in her life and Anastasia has successfully applied the things she learnt at ‘Change It’, into her real day-to-day life. She feels more confident about applying for jobs, “I have got all the faith in myself now that when an interview comes I will present myself with confidence”.

Anastasia is now looking for voluntary work and is aiming to be give back by being more involved with organisations of which she was once a service-user. She has been working on her CV, but claims that she “will not forget about a good work-life balance to keep well”.

Finally, we asked Anastasia what she would say to other women who were thinking about signing up to the next ‘Change It: Progress to Success’, she said: “making a change in your life, however small it might be, will cause a chain reaction. You will look at things differently and begin to open new doors – you will surprise yourself!”.

Thank you to Anastasia for sharing her experience with us!

If you would like to find out more information about ‘Change It: Progress to Success’, or express your interest in the enrolling for the next programme, please contact a member of our Engagement Team on 0151 706 8111 or hello@thewo.org.uk.