Friday, September 30, 2011

Bollyfit Celebrate Birthday by Launching New Liverpool Bollywood Classes

Combining Bollywood glamour and keep fit Pooja Saini is bringing a touch of class to the health and well being industry with her business ‘Bollyfit’.

“Growing up I loved to dance. My sister and I would do dancing at parties and weddings. Watching Bollywood movies and going to the shows and concerts we would mimic the dance moves and I was fascinated by how they picked up every beat in their body. As an adult I looked for years to find anyone who was running Bollywood dance classes, both when I lived in London and again when I moved to Liverpool. I couldn’t find any which was disappointing. One day someone just said to me ‘Well why don’t you run them?’ and that started me thinking about it” said Pooja.

Liverpool resident Pooja studied dance from a young age, taking classes in ballet and jazz, then moving on to attending dance classes in Indian classical dance and street dance while at University. When considering putting her own classes together Pooja went to train up as an aerobics instructor. She explained:
“My Bollyfit structure is similar to aerobics, but more dancey and with Bollywood music. It’s fun and people who come along can dress up for it if they like, but it is structured and will help with fitness.” The music Pooja uses includes dance influences from all over the world, but concentrates mainly on Bollywood, Bhangra, Indian classical and Belly Dancing.

Pooja officially launched her Bollyfit business in Liverpool a year ago with support from The Women’s Organisation.

“I got help with my business plan, which was helpful as doing the market research opened up other ideas for my business. Instead of me just going out and put classes on it helped me really make it into a business, and I had support with things like setting up a business bank account.”

Since launching her business Pooja discovered that she was pregnant with her third child, so had to take time out from running the classes on maternity leave. She is delighted to be back and is already losing her pregnancy weight through running the classes.

“I am a great advert for how much the classes help you keep in shape without you realising” she says. “After my second child, running the classes I went from a size 16 to a size 12 in just four months! I am aiming for the same to happen this time. It’s great because instead of feeling like you have to do exercise, this to me is fun. People who have come along to my class say the same that they enjoy it so much they don’t even notice that it’s doing exercise until they realise by the end they have been sweating.”

Bollyfit will be running some new classes at Childwall Sports Centre, Five Ways, Queens Drive, Liverpool, L15 6XZ from Saturday 1st October.

Saturday mornings
10.30-11.30am – Bollyfit classes - £4 per class
11.30am-12.30pm - Children’s Bollywood dance lessons - £5 per class or £50 for a 10 week course starting 8th October.

“Anyone can come along to the classes. We have people of all sizes, ethnic groups, men or women – it’s really a diverse group.”

As well as these classes ‘Bollyfit’ offer services for:
• Workshops within work places or school using bollywood dancing for team building or to add a fun twist to learning about India.
• Children’s/Adults birthday/Hen parties –Dress up in Bollywood outfits with henna, bindis and bangles and enjoy learning a dance.
• Choreography – As an experienced choreographer for fashion shows, events and plays, Pooja can provide her services for theatre, corporate events or even wedding parties.

Pooja is also working on choreographing Bollywood dances to link in with local dance festivals and it looking for people who may be interested in taking part.

For more information on how to get involved contact Pooja on or 07946169335.

And if like Pooja you have an idea for a business but need support to get it off the ground, contact The Women’s Organisation on or 0151 706 8111.

Photography by Abi Booth

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Pink Plasterer Expands Creating 8 North West Jobs

Since starting her own business just over a year ago it’s been non-stop for Liverpool’s ‘The Pink Plasterer’ Steph Kilshaw. What began as a small business born out of facing redundancy and looking to create a job for herself has led to creation of jobs for 8 other staff! Now working across Merseyside and Manchester, Steph just can’t believe how well things have gone.

“Just thinking back over the things we’ve done and how I started, you would never think one girl going out with a pink bucket could turn into this!” said Steph. “Since starting up I have never looked back. I always wanted to be self-employed, but I just never really knew which skill to use or how to go about it”.

When setting up in business Steph found out about The Women’s Organisation (then Train 2000) and was given advice and guidance to help get her up and running.

Facing the need to expand Steph said “I was glad to be able to go back to The Women’s Organisation for more advice. Employing people you would think would be difficult. Through the Women’s Organisation’s guidance I found out how to do it and it isn’t as scary as you think. To anyone else who is considering it I would say – don’t be scared to get bigger.”

As well as running her growing business and juggling mum duties, Steph is currently planning her wedding which will be in October as well as studying for her PTLLS certificate to be able to start training others in plastering from Jan 2012.

“It’s been a mad rollercoaster, but I know I have definitely done the right thing setting this business up and I wouldn’t swap it for the world. I recall the first major job we did was a Grade 2 listed building. It was a real mine field of red tape, and having to deal with conservationists etc. was a real learning curve. But we did it and looking back you think ‘if we have got through this, there isn’t anything we can’t tackle’. Having done that we are now registered with the council to take on heritage work as part of a regeneration group which is great.”

The Pink Plasterer has now also been signed up by RDC Media to be part of a home improvement team for a forthcoming programme that will see homes done up on a budget of £3000 to be shown on Channel 4.

“I’ve been asked to do some great things” reflected Steph. “Like a panel discussion show for youtube which included Tamzin Outhwaite talking about juggling being a mum and self-employment. It’s all a bit mad, but exciting. I never thought the business would become so successful.”

The Pink Plasterer offer plastering for both domestic and commercial premises. Through taking on extra staff Steph has been able to offer “more of an all-round service.” She explained “we have a girl on our team now who specialises in urban art murals as well as plastering, so we can offer that as an add on if the client is interested. And as well as our regular team we have linked up with other associates who are electricians, painters, joiners and other trades people so that we can work in partnership to give a full service. Our staff are also in the process of getting CSC cards which will enable us to branch out to site work too.”

Through The Women’s Organisation website Steph added ‘The Pink Plasterer’ to the online directory of female owned businesses and has found that it has helped her marketing with people mentioning that is how they found out about her business. She said “It’s also useful for networking with other local business women. I’ve found painters etc. who I have done joint work with through there.”

You too can submit your business details FREE to our directory.

To contact The Pink Plasterer to find out more about the services they can offer please email or call 07861 702 463.

And, if you’re a woman from the Merseyside or Greater Manchester area and are interested in starting up your own business please call The Women’s Organisation on 0151 706 8111 or visit

Photography by Abi Booth

Monday, September 26, 2011

More Support with Google

Google - Engage Agency Day - Liverpool

Join the experts on Thursday 29th September at the Leaf Cafe, for a day of insights and interaction to help you boost your business and give your customers even better service.

•Get to the bottom of common AdWords myths and remove roadblocks to potential revenue
•Hear innovative ways to pitch AdWords and its features to potential clients
•Be one of the first to hear about AdWords Express and its benefits
•Receive tips and advice on how to sell better
•Learn more about Google Engage for Agencies

Register now to secure your seat!

What: Engage Agency Day - Liverpool
When: Thursday 29 September, 9.00 p.m. - 3.00 p.m.
(registration from 9.00, first presentation starts at 9.30)
Where: Leaf on Bold 65 - 67 Bold Street, Liverpool, L1 4EZ

More information on the Google Engage Agency event can be found here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Business Club Get Tax, Finance and Excel Top Tips

The Women's Organisations 'Business Club' were treated to 'Tax Tips and Finance Facts' this month with RMC Accountancy and ExcelAce.

It was a lovely evening at the organisation's new home at 54 St James Street. Thanks to a lucky turn in the weather and the fabulous speakers the business women attending enjoyed fantastic views across the Mersey from the buildings roof terrace while networking as well as two interesting talks on a topic daunting to most new business starts. Local business A2Z cafe based in Liverpool ONE kindly supplied free platters of sandwiches and fruit for the evening which went down a treat with the networkers.

Helen and Emma from RMC Accountancy kicked off the evening showing us "the good, the bad and the ugly" of record keeping, encouraging the women to 'keep organised book keeping records' and to set aside your taxable part of your income and not even consider it yours. Business club members then took full advantage of having a couple of accounting experts in the room and grilled the girls on all kinds of tax and accounting issues getting some really useful advice.

Then after some more networking it was the turn of ExcelAce Traci Williams. Traci managed to perform a small miracle making spread sheets come to life showing some simple tricks for helping to keep your records neat and easy to access.

Feedback left by the women at the end of the night included:

"Friendly, informative, supportive"
"Spread sheets - fabulous, engaging, fun, interesting. Loved it! Well done"
"Informative and relaxed. Good"
"Accountancy - very helpful and encouraging. Thank you"
"A great evening, very informative"
"Very enjoyable evening. Thank you."
"The Excel Lady was brilliant! Good fun and informative"
"Well organised and very helpful. Thank you"
"Interesting and informative, thank you"
"Very enjoyable evening. Thanks to all the speakers"
"Very good presentations, informative, friendly and nice sandwiches!"

The Women's Organisation are currently offering FREE membership to their business club to women who are running their own business in the North West of England. The business club hold regular networking and specialist training opportunities to support women to further grow and sustain their businesses.

For more information on how to become a member of the business club or for any other of our business support services please contact our team on 0151 706 8111/0161 833 8800 or

Next month at the business club we are delighted to welcome fantastic consultant and coach Sylvia Walker who will be talking about the importance of "Work Life Balance". The event will be on 18th October from 6pm-8.30pm. For more information or to book a place please contact or call 0151 706 8111.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Setting Up a Social Enterprise Training

This One Day training course offered by KPAC will be at:

Knowsley Business Resource Centre
Admin Road, Kirkby, L33 7TX
9.30 am – 4.00 pm
11th October 2011
Cost: £24.00 – Lunch and refreshments included

This course is aimed at people who are interested in learning more about social enterprises and want to know what the advantages are of being a social enterprise business and how to go about the initial steps of considering and setting up a social enterprise.

Course content includes:
-What is a Social Enterprise?
-The difference between social enterprises and other businesses
-Different types of social enterprise
-Considerations when setting up a social enterprise
-Management structures in social enterprise
-The triple bottom line
-Advantages and Disadvantages of being a social enterprise
-Stakeholder analysis
-First steps in setting up a social enterprise

For further information on this course, or would like to book a please contact KPAC

FREE Training from Target Wellbeing

Target: Wellbeing's training is free and open to anyone working in the Third or Public Sector in the North West. To book email Darren at or call 0161 237 3200. Don't forget to include any dietary or access requirements and your phone number. Though do note, once booked, you will be charged a £50 fee if you fail to attend and do not give 24 hours notice.

Income Development Workshop
Wednesday 28th September 2011, 9.30am – 4.30pm (lunch included)
Location: Manchester
Venue: Groundwork NW, 1st Floor Fourways House, 57 Hilton Street, Manchester, M1 2EJ
Trainer: Alan Laurie

This session will:
• Explore ways in which your project could develop income generation and trading opportunities.
• Build skills in developing business opportunities and turning an idea into an income generating project (exploring what works and what doesn’t!).
• Identify the skills, expertise and assets that you have that people might be interested in paying for or purchasing.
• Develop a business model - using a range of tested tools and case studies.
• Look at the organisational and practical issues about moving into income generation

How to Create Good Case Studies
Monday 3rd October, 10.00am – 1.00pm (lunch not included)
Location: Preston
Venue: Classroom 2, Gujarat Hindu Society Centre, south Meadow Lane, Preston, PR1 8JN
Trainer: Rhiannon Davies, Target: Wellbeing’s Communications Officer

This session will cover how to plan for, write and format a case study about your project.

We will really focus on how to make your words work to demonstrate your project’s impact to a range of stakeholders.

Building a Diverse Income Base
Friday 7th October 2011, 9.30am – 4.30pm (lunch included)
Location: Manchester
Venue: Groundwork NW, 1st Floor Fourways House, 57 Hilton Street, Manchester, M1 2EJ
Trainer: Alan Laurie

This session will:
• Explore issues involved in managing the end of fixed term project funding, including the need to develop a viable exit strategy.
• Examine how the financial model that underpins many organisations is changing and outline of the key changes in how voluntary organisations are funded, including public service contracts, trading, income generation and social enterprise.
• Introduce some useful tools to identify the issues involved.
• Cover strategy development - highlighting what is needed to turn ideas into practical projects and how to make the case for investment.
• Highlight the practical importance of business planning to survive the uncertain times ahead, including the skills and processes needed to manage and develop opportunities.

A session to work on action plans will finish off the day!

How to Create Video Case studies
Wednesday 12th October, 10.00am – 1pm (lunch not included)
Location: Knowsley
Venue: Knowsley CVS, Nutgrove Villa, 1 Griffiths Road, Huyton L36 6NA
Trainer: Rhiannon Davies, Target: Wellbeing’s Communications Officer

This session is for complete beginners, or those who’ve started taking videos and want to know “what next?”

We will cover how to plan for and create a video about your project using a Flip camera, and how to edit and put these videos on YouTube, as well as how to distribute them to your stakeholders and a wider audience.

The last time this session was run participants said:
“Thanks for making this fun and easy!”
“This training was concise yet effective – providing essential info and tips.”
“Excellent, knowledgeable facilitator!”

Volunteer Management Training
Thursday 13th October 2011, 9.30am – 4.30pm (lunch included)
Location: Burnley
Venue: TBC
Trainer: Debra McCallion

This session will enable you to:
• Identify the level of best practice within volunteering, including policy issues, diversity issues, and more.
• Identify the volunteering journey for individuals, including skills assessments, diversifying roles, managing poor practice etc.
• Fully understand the Volunteers Managers role and how to stay healthy within it, including juggling tasks, where to find support, demand management strategies etc.

Introduction to Marketing and Communications
Monday 17th October 2011, 10.00am – 1.00pm
Location: Ellesmere Port
Venue: EPNAVCO, First Floor Offices, Ellesmere Port Indoor Market, Market Square, Ellesmere Port, CH65 0HW
Trainer: Rhiannon Davies, Target : Wellbeing’s Communications Officer

Anyone responsible for getting beneficiaries to participate in your project, recruiting volunteers, or communicating the success of your project to funders and other stakeholders will take something from this session.

We will focus on creating a plan that helps save you time, but maximises the results of your marketing. We’ll also cover top tips to make sure your posters, flyers, press releases and other communication tools are as effective as possible, and share ideas of how to increase beneficiary recruitment for your project.

The last time this session was run participants said:
"It has given me loads of new ideas, can't wait to put them into practice!"
"I found the course extremely useful and can't wait to be a lot more organised"
"Clear and understandable"

Commissioning Master Class
Thursday 20th October 2011, 9.30am – 4.30pm (lunch included)
Location: Oldham
Venue: TBC
Trainer: Dave Packwood

This session will:
• Assist VCS organisations who already have an understanding and experience of commissioning, to explore how to enhance their skills further, bid for larger tenders and challenge the tendering process.
• Refresh knowledge of commissioning and update people on new legislation such as Modernising Commissioning Green paper.
• Identify and discuss the risks of tendering, including VAT and TUPE implications.
• Give you knowledge of Pre Qualification and Tendering Documentation.
• Look at procurement rules that commissioners must abide by and how to challenge the procurement process.

Introduction to Social Media
Tuesday 25th October 2011, 9.30am – 1pm (lunch not included)
Location: Liverpool
Venue: The Quaker Meeting House in Liverpool, 22 School Lane, Liverpool L1 3BT
Trainer: Rhiannon Davies, Target: Wellbeing’s Communications Officer

A great opportunity for those who want to get started with Social Media, but don’t know where to start.

This session will cover:
- An introduction to Social Media, its context and how it fits into your existing activity
- Picking the right tools for your objectives and stakeholders
- A straight forward introduction on how to use the most popular platforms – Blogging, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Facebook

You’ll leave the session feeling informed and confident about using Social Media, however little you’ve done beforehand!

The last time this session was run participants said:
“I am more confident about Social Networking, and will go back and sort out a Twitter account!”
“My mind is spinning with ideas!”
“Three days worth of training in three hours!”

Consortia and Collaboration session
Thursday 27th October 2011, 9.30am – 4.30pm (lunch included)
Location: Oldham
Venue: TBC
Trainer: Dave Packwood

This session will assist VCS organisations in the development of partnerships and consortia for the delivery of:
- Children young people and families tenders
- Health tenders including GP consortia

The session will help you to:
- Understand the national commissioning context which is driving partnerships and consortia building.
- Develop an understanding of consortia working benefits, strengths, weaknesses, governance and processes.
- Examine outcome based commissioning frameworks.
- Gain practical knowledge about different models of partnership and consortia building and delivery.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Call for Art & Craft Stallholders – Sat 24th September

On 24th September between 12.00 noon and 6pm Liverpool Commercial District is holding a Latin American festival on Castle St to celebrate the area’s new status as a BID.

The street will be closed to traffic and filled with the music, tastes, sights and smells of Latin America.

There limited number of 3m x 2m stalls available for artists and makers wishing to sell their work.

Stalls are free for businesses based in The Commercial District and £35 for those based outside the area.

For more information please contact Vix Worrall on 0151 330 6163/

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

JellyLiverpool Welcomes Women!

This month JellyLiverpool are putting a special shout out to women in business to come and take advantage of their FREE co-working day.

JellyLiverpool is taking place on:

Thursday 15th September 9am-5pm
We’ll be co-working upstairs at Leaf Bar & Café (Bold St)

The Women's Organisation will be there supporting any women who want extra advice and guidance between 11am-2pm.

JellyLiverpool welcome Liverpool freelancers & home-workers, come and work with us for the day @ JellyLiverpool …. doing what it does best …. providing a Free monthly work-together with Free coffee and an opportunity to mingle with like-minded creative individuals, in a city centre location. No need to register, just pop along and bring your laptop or some work you need to get on with.

Newcomers are made very welcome, and if you’re thinking of coming for the first time, here’s some background…

JellyLiverpool enables delegates to escape their normal working environment, be that the spare room, rented desk space or usual café and join in what has become the co-working event that enables people to make new contacts in an informal way whilst still allowing them to work on their deadlines and maintain productivity.

JellyLiverpool is a Free work-together now being held on the 1st Thursday & 3rd Thursday of each month upstairs @ Leaf Bar & Café on Bold Street. If you work alone, at home or elsewhere and crave some company and want to connect with other creative individuals, pop along !

No matter what you do or what you create, you’re welcome to come to JellyLiverpool. Mingle with other grass-root businesses. It’s a great way to put faces to those you follow on Twitter and more importantly it’s Free …… Free wifi, Free deskspace, Free coffee. Bring your own laptop and a friendly disposition. No need to register, just pop in for an hour or 2 or come work for the full day.

Want to know more? go to …

"Being My Own Boss is Brilliant!" Says Bride Liverpool

“It’s a juggling game” for business owner and mum Maria, but running her own business ‘Bride Liverpool’ is her dream job.

“I always wanted to be my own boss” said Maria Johnson-Sach from Liverpool. Having given up working in the wedding industry when son Callum came along, Maria had been trying to decide what to do. When Callum was old enough for nursery Maria went to work for the civil service part time, but found it just wasn’t the right fit for her. When a friend presented an opportunity it seemed too interesting to ignore.

“A friend of mine had premises where she was doing beauty. She had just revamped it and moved her business upstairs, so the space downstairs was vacant. She let me know it was available and I was interested. My husband wasn’t keen at first. He has a high pressured job, so he couldn’t really drop everything if there was a problem with Callum, so we needed to think carefully about childcare.”

Maria contacted The Women’s Organisation for help and advice and was linked up with an Enterprise Enabler to help look over her business plan. She said “I wanted someone who could sit down and look over figures with me and see if it all made sense. My adviser Huda was so encouraging, she helped me set up a spreadsheet to look at the financials. I wouldn’t be here without The Women’s Organisation and I can highly recommend what they do. No one understands women like women.”

From there everything pretty much “fell into place” for the Liverpool mum. She agreed to take on the premises near Childwall Fiveways at great rates. She struck lucky, timing it right to attend the British bridal exhibition earlier this year to strike deals with designers for exclusivity for when her store opened. Having found herself in a stable place financially Maria invested £15,000 in stock and began to redecorate. Her husband and a friend helped with some of the DIY, a cousin was able to do the electrics. Looking around at her shop now Maria says “Sometimes I think it is all too good to be true. It was meant to be!”

One thing she has learned in the process of dealing with suppliers for her business is “Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate! Don’t have any embarrassment in it. When you tot up the savings you’ve made at the end of the year it’s well worth it. Sometimes as women male suppliers look at us and think that we can’t hold our own, but we can and sometimes we need to know that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

Maria is loving being back in the wedding industry. “It’s such a happy industry”, she said “Brides come in full of anticipation, and I help them find the dress of their dreams. They often try on a dress they never would think they could wear and then find they look better than they could have ever imagined. It’s a joy when a woman whose confidence has been knocked through looking at air brushed images in glossy magazine comes in, you put them in the right dress and see that they know they look great. I have endless patience to help them get it right, I know a lot about bridal wear and I know I am good at what I do.”

Bride Liverpool cater for all a bride’s needs for their special day including wedding dresses, veils and accessories. They hold some exclusive lines that can’t be found anywhere else in Liverpool or the North West. You can find them on facebook and Twitter or contact Bride Liverpool on 0151 345 0747 or

And if you are a woman with a dream of running your own business, contact The Women’s Organisation on 0151 706 8111 or for more information on the grants, advice and support you can access.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pay Equality a Century Away for British Women


LONDON (TrustLaw) - When will Britain’s men and women executives enjoy equal pay? Not until the year 2109, judging by the country’s current growth rates of male and female salaries, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) said on Wednesday.

The difference between female and male pay rises has narrowed year-on-year – women’s salaries rose 2.4 percent during the 12 months between February 2010 to February 2011, a rate of increase 0.3 percent higher than that for men, according to figures from a sample of more than 34,000 British executives surveyed by XpertHR on behalf of CMI.

But male executives still get paid more than women doing the same jobs – an average of 42,441 pounds ($69,000) compared with 31,895 pounds ($51,866) for women, CMI, an institute that awards management and leadership qualifications, quoted the 2011 National Management Salary Survey as showing.

“We need the government to scrutinise organisational pay, demand more transparency from companies on pay bandings and publicly expose organisations found guilty of fuelling the gender pay gap,” CMI’s director of policy and research, Petra Wilton, said.

However, pay discrepancies aren’t consistent all the way along the career ladder, data showed.

In fact, female junior executives in Britain – earning an average annual salary of 21,969 pounds – get 602 pounds more their male counterparts working at the same level.

The research also showed redundancies hit men and women equally hard between February 2010 and February 2011, with 2.2 percent of both men and women executives losing their jobs.

But the figures also showed women at “function head” level being almost twice as likely as men to have been made redundant. And data showed more women than men quitting their jobs – 4.2 percent compared with 3.6 percent.

To help female staff challenge inequality in their workplaces, CMI has provided a “toolkit” of free resources at

By Rebekah Curtis

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shell Springboard Awards Open for Nominations

Why not take advantage of the quietest month of the year and enter the Shell Springboard Awards?

The deadline for Shell Springboard is 5pm on the 4th November 2011, but as we all know things tend to get busy again when the world returns from its holiday so now is a good time to get your application sorted.

Submit your entry online at for one of eight awards of £40,000 on offer this year.

If you know of someone who might benefit from a £40,000 injection to their innovative green business, please send this on to them. If they get through to a regional judging panel, I’m sure they will thank you and invite you to a celebration!

Remember, Shell are looking for UK-based small to medium size enterprises with business ideas or technology that is:

• Commercially viable
• Innovative
• Carbon Saving

Applications should be made online before 5pm on the 4th November 2011 on the website

If you have an application in process - don’t forget to complete it and submit it. This award could make all the difference to your business, just ask any previous winner.... like Stephen Voller, CEO of Cella Energy…
“Winning the Shell Springboard award was a huge boost to our business. It was an excellent platform to showcase our technology and helped us secure global investment. I encourage anyone with a good idea for tackling the climate challenge to enter the awards.”

As always, the Springboard team are here to answer your queries. You can contact them at or on 0870 850 7085.
Good luck with your application!

From Redundancy to Self Employment Success for Stockport Mums

When facing redundancy friends of 9 years Sharon Edwards and Shelley Garrett saw it as an opportunity. Using their wealth of experience in the field of educational consultancy they set up ‘Quality First Training & Consultancy’ in Stockport and haven’t looked back.

Sharon said “When the government cuts came, Manchester was hit harder than anyone anticipated. Myself and colleagues within the field of education were offered severance packages. It was very daunting the thought of giving up a well-paid job, but the offer of the severance was both a push and a cushion at the same time. The opportunity to work for ourselves was scary and exciting in equal measures.”

Sharon, Shelley and other colleagues who were also facing redundancy and considering self-employment decided to share their contact details so as not to lose touch. Before they knew it they had created their own network of support for their fledgling businesses. Meeting the first Wednesday of the month at Metropolitan Pub in Didsbury, the former colleagues share information, offer emotional support to one another and share their wealth of skills and ideas. The group who also keep in contact via email circulation has proven invaluable for support and was the starting point of Sharon and Shelley finding out about the free business support available through The Women’s Organisation.

“The help from The Women’s Organisation was excellent”, said Sharon. “Our business adviser there Lisa was so clear and organised. We hadn’t really understood the need for a business plan really. I suppose we were just of the mind of ‘go out there and start doing’. But putting together the plan with Lisa’s help has really focussed us. We refer back to it constantly to see if we are meeting our targets, and the blurb that took us time to pull together for the plan we now use in our marketing. So it was well worth it.”

Both Sharon and Shelley’s friends and family have been a great support in helping them develop their business. Shelley’s partner offered support with photography for their promotional materials, Sharon’s daughter is helping them all the way from New Zealand to set up their website, Sharon’s brother in law supported them with accountancy advice and Shelley’s 15 month old son has been offering plenty of supportive smiles along the way.

Sharon said of their journey “We were always very resourceful in our previous employment, so I guess that prepared us for self-employment and learning new skills as we go. Having come through redundancy it’s almost like we rose from the ashes. Things are going well so far and the people who have accessed our consultancy services and attended our courses have given us very positive feedback so we are feeling optimistic about the future.”

Quality First Training and Consultancy offers specialist support in behaviour and attendance, emotional health and well-being and coaching. Between them, Shelley and Sharon bring a wealth of experience. Having both started out as classroom teachers then working as Behaviour Needs teachers they were asked to take on the role of Behaviour and Attendance Consultants. They were then able to roll out the national ‘Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning’ programme to Manchester schools, where their work was recognised nationally. With the added bonus of having worked in both primary and secondary education settings they can fully understand and appreciate all aspects of the day to day issues facing local schools and educational organisations. Quality First Services are broken down into 4 key areas:

Quality First Consultancy
Offering schools, academies and settings bespoke consultancy in any area of behaviour and attendance.

Quality First Training
A range of training packages available, e.g. behaviour management, improving attendance, using solution focused approaches, SEAL. These are available for delivery to whole staff or groups during staff meetings, twilights or training days. In addition support can be offered to plan, deliver and evaluate bespoke training events in your workplace and across networks.

Quality First Behaviour Reviews
Behaviour reviews of various lengths, starting from 1 day, are available tailored to the specific focus identified and / or size of your school, academy or setting. A written report will be compiled with recommendations and discussed in detail at a follow up meeting.

Quality First Coaching
Whatever your needs Quality First offer skilled and experienced coaches who can provide professional and personal coaching to support you to develop your capacity to find sustainable solutions to your challenges.

For more information on what Quality First Training and Consultancy can offer visit their website at or contact them on 07415 705653 or

And if like Sharon and Shelley you are looking for support to develop your own business then why not contact The Women’s Organisation on 0161 833 8800/0151 706 8111 or for more information on the FREE support available to women.