Thursday, September 12, 2019

Case study: Breaking down barriers with Helen Clarke Autism

Helen Clarke Autism is a specialist autism training and consultancy service, dedicated to improving the lives of autistic children, in particular autistic girls. With support from the Enterprise Hub programme, Helen is taking her business from strength to strength. 

Helen provides educational and consultancy services for schools, parents, health services and other organisations that support autistic children.
As an autistic woman herself and having previously worked with autistic children for over twenty years as an Art and Design teacher, Helen is passionate about sharing her own life journey to improve the experience of others.
Her mission is now more important than ever, with recent reports suggesting that the number of autistic women and girls may have been severely underestimated due to historic gender biases.
Experts explain that early assumptions of the condition meant that it was predominantly thought to affect men, with the real ratio in fact coming in at approximately 3:1. This means that the number of girls and women with the condition has been vastly underestimated with thousands going undiagnosed.
As might be expected, this has taken its toll on the mental health of many girls and women across the country as living without a diagnosis often means that people are not accessing appropriate support in terms of health and education.
Thankfully, there is now a growing recognition of the issue and Helen is one of the professionals at the forefront of this battle to help autistic women overcome the barriers they face and improve the services available to them.With such an important task at hand, Helen decided self-employment was the best way for her to reach and support as many girls as possible – and so she founded Helen Clarke Autism consultancy services.

Click to here to visit the Enterprise Hub page and read the full case study. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

My Charity Marketplace on Championing Charities and Growth

My Charity Marketplace is an online shopping platform donating 7% of every sale to charity. Their luxury gift and lifestyle marketplace can be linked to unlimited UK charity websites, giving small charities a free online shop to take advantage of without the worry of stock control or running expenses. 

Alongside setting fundraising goals, the business champions small creative businesses by selling their gifts and homeware to the large charity supporter market with an aim to grow and compete with some of the internet’s most popular profit-making marketplaces.

Founder and director – Lisa Dickinson spent most of her career working in the charity sector in management and fundraising roles. She decided to start her business after noticing a gap in the market that no one had addressed, Lisa told us “As a charity professional (and enthusiastic online shopper), it frustrated me that very few non-profit organisations had resources to develop viable online stories, I felt that charities were missing out on the e-commerce revolution”

Lisa decided that by using technology, she would try and figure out a way to create a store that could be shared by unlimited charities whilst being branded as their own and with a soft launch in November 2018, My Charity Marketplace was born. Whilst there are other fundraising platforms out there, she found that none of them give as much as 7% on every sale, and none of them are providing charities with their own online store completely free of charge, making the business completely unique.

Lisa Dickinson - Director of My Charity Marketplace

My Charity Marketplace are setting attainable targets, with a goal of getting as many small businesses as possible to get on-board to sell, giving them the opportunity to partner with a lot of good causes. Most recently they have just heard back that Together for Animals will be joining them, a particularity exciting charity that supports animal welfare.

The business worked with The Women’s Organisation through Greater Manchester based Excelerate Labs Programme. Receiving coaching and support from Senior Business Advisor Mike Marsden, Lisa told us: “I’ve really benefited from the support I’ve received. Running your own business can be a very lonely place especially in the early days when you can so easily lose your confidence or have so many thoughts and ideas it’s difficult to make meaningful progress.”

“It’s good to have someone who lets you off-load but doesn’t allow you to stay still for long. I have always been motivated by goals and I am the sort of person who needs feedback, so having someone who is very experienced and is willing to tell me things straight has been very valuable.”

Outside of the business, Lisa has a busy family life as a mother, grandma and foster carer to 2 children in high school. She believes the key to her success has been recognising the importance of separating business and personal life “I have learned that I need to work hard but that the business will always be there to pick up tomorrow, don’t miss out on the important things in life and always prioritise your family, the mobile and emails can sometimes wait!”

With her business growing rapidly, she still finds the time to be a charity trustee for Salford’s Women’s Aid and run a branch of ‘Who Let the Dad’s Out’ a church community group where dads and male carers can spend quality time with their kids. 

Taking a leap into self-employment can be a scary decision to make, but Lisa believes that if you have the focus and right attitude, it can be the best decision you'll ever make.

“I am quite entrepreneurial and focused but starting a business at the age of 50 something has been a huge challenge, I’m very proud that I’ve managed to create something unique that hasn’t been achieved before. I think that everyone has a business inside them whether they act on it or not.   Every day is a new day, you will have to learn to take knocks but years of working in charities taught me that every crisis is an opportunity, if you have that attitude you won’t go far wrong.”

If anyone is interested in My Charity Marketplace and would like to get in contact with Lisa you can get in touch below or you can email her directly on 

you can follow their progress on twitter at @mycharitymp and Instagram @mycharitymarketplace

If you would like to benefit from the support received under the Excelerate Labs programme, then please contact: or 0161 327 0967

If you're thinking about starting a business in Greater Manchester, 'Start Your Business' training course is coming up soon. Get your FREE tickets over on Eventbrite

Monday, September 2, 2019

Guest blog: How can we encourage more women into the construction sector?

Ever fancied yourself as a builder? Kelly Friel is a Product Manager with industrial tool supplier Zoro. Here, she discusses why it's time more women were encouraged into the construction sector, and what employers can do to help attract female talent.

According to the latest figures from WISE, the sector is almost entirely dominated by men, with just 11% of roles taken by women. And, that doesn’t take into account the sort of work that women are doing in these roles, many of which are likely to be secretarial or administrative, rather than actually out on site. The Guardian even estimates that as many as 99% of on-site workers are men, making construction one of the most heavily male-dominated industries out there.

With a nationwide shortage of skilled construction workers and tradespeople set to get even worse after Brexit, employers are starting to wake up to the fact that we desperately need more women to join the industry. So, just what can be done to make construction roles more appealing to women? Here, I'll discuss what employers, site managers and educators can do to bring about a change.

Employers need to embrace inclusive policies

One thing which is sure to put women off a job in construction is the fear that they won’t be accepted by their colleagues on site, or that they could even be subject to harassment or discrimination. No one should face this treatment at work, and it's not just a matter of telling women to "toughen up" or accept that it's "part of the job". Employers and site managers need to commit to changing the workplace culture which makes such behaviour acceptable.

Workplace policies need to outline what is and isn't acceptable during working hours, and all staff should be fully trained on how they can create an inclusive workplace culture. Every site also needs to have reporting system in place, so that women can be confident that their concerns will be listened to and addressed. This is already standard practice for most other sectors, so there's really no reason it shouldn't be the same for construction. 

Employers should offer equal access to facilities and equipment

Another key concern is providing equal access to on-site facilities and equipment, which is sadly often overlooked when hiring women. For instance, many sites don’t even have female changing rooms or toilets, because there are rarely ever women on site. Likewise, the majority of safety equipment and construction wear — like hard hats, hi-vis wear, boots and gloves — is designed for men. So, employers need to ensure that they have ample facilities and equipment for women before they welcome them to the site.

Raising the profile of women in the industry

It’s much easier for women to imagine themselves in a role if they can see others like themselves are already succeeding. So, the industry needs to raise the profile of female construction workers, perhaps by asking women to visit schools and colleges as guest speakers. Celebrating the trailblazers who have already carved out a successful career in construction will help to encourage other women to follow in their footsteps, and it will show that it’s not exclusively a boys' club anymore.

Educating and empowering girls and young women

Many employers are already keen to diversify their workforce, but often find that the talent pool for female candidates is very small, meaning it's harder to find qualified women. This is likely because young women learn that construction isn't a "girl's job" from an early age, and so don’t decide to pursue this as a career. Educators and employers need to work together to change this misconception, preferably by working in schools with young people before they’ve decided what they'd like to do for a living.

There are also a number of myths around physical strength which educators need to dispel. Thanks to modern technical advancements, many building roles don’t involve as much demanding physical labour as they once did. Additionally, lots of on-site roles, such as surveying and site management, aren't very physical jobs. So, it’s a myth that you need to be physically strong to work on a building site, and it’s important that girls and young women realise this before they dismiss it as a career option.

Additionally, girls and young women need to be made more aware that there's a lot of room for progression. Site management roles involve a high degree of emotional intelligence and strong interpersonal skills, which are the types of jobs women are often more drawn to. If more young women were aware that these qualities are sought after skills, they might consider pursuing construction as a career.

A career in construction can be rewarding and lucrative, so it's only right that women are given the support and encouragement they need to build a career in the sector. By working together, employers and educators can change attitudes and pave the way for women to succeed in construction.

Guest blog: The Chairman of Merseyrail Ladies FC on the rise of women’s football

Following a major Summer season for women’s football, Neil Lancaster, Chairman of Merseyrail Ladies FC, has penned us a guest blog on the rise of the sport.

He takes a look back at the sport’s potted history and shares his hopes for the future.

 Merseyrail Ladies FC 

This summer’s FIFA Women's World Cup has well and truly shined a spotlight on women’s football, with the sport receiving masses of media attention for what seems like the first time.

But did you know… Women's football matches once pulled bigger crowds than most men's games - sometimes more than 50,000!

In the 1920s the sport flourished with around 150 women's teams in England. There was a huge growth in women's football during the First World War when women were called upon to do factory jobs left by the men who had gone to fight.

And when (Dick Kerr's) Preston Ladies played St Helen's Ladies on Boxing Day 1920 they pulled in a crowd of 53,000 at Everton's Goodison Park, with thousands more fans locked outside.
Everton men's attendance today has a capacity of 39,572.

In December 1921 the women's game was effectively banned, with the FA at the time saying the game of football is "quite unsuitable for females". This ruling stood until 1971.

Over the last decade, women’s football has been the UK’s biggest growth sport in the UK.

In June 2019, England's 3-0 win over Norway in the World Cup quarter-final set a new peak TV viewing record for women's football of 7.6million.

Stephanie Frappart became the first female referee to officiate a major men's European match when she took charge of the UEFA Super Cup. Along with her all-female team of assistant referees, Manuela Nicolosi of Italy and Michelle O'Neill from the Republic of Ireland.

However, as in the US, our focus here in the UK at grass roots level is on getting - and keeping - girls and women on the pitch.

Here in Liverpool, Merseyrail Ladies FC are one of the clubs striving to make a mark at a local level.

Having previously played under the banner of Bootle Men’s FC, they have now moved to their own ground at Admiral Park in Liverpool 8 and there's no affiliation to a men’s team - a decision that sees this team of women striving their own path. 

Maybe, history could repeat itself for women’s football?

Neil Lancaster Chairman of Merseyrail Ladies FC

You can find Merseyrail Ladies FC on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

📢 LINE-UP ANNOUNCEMENT: Enterprise Hub's Start Up and Grow Week 2019

Enterprise Hub are excited to announce the line-up of events for Start-up and Grow Week this September!

Running from 16th - 20th September 2019, this week long programme of training, workshops and events is designed to equip you with the skills and know-how to start or grow your business. 

You can follow all the action using #StartUpAndGrowWeek on Twitter!

For the full line-up so far, visit the Enterprise Hub blog by clicking here.


Friday, August 23, 2019

Neuroscience in Marketing– what neuromarketing is and how it can boost your marketing return on investment

The following is a guest blog written by Founder and Managing Director of Cheshire-based marketing management consultancy, Think Beyond.

What do neuroscience and marketing have in common?

A solid foundation for marketing success is to have a marketing strategy. This strategy is founded on a clear understanding of your value proposition (your differentiators) and your market, customers and competitors with the aim of aligning your marketing activity to what customers need.

Neuroscience contributes to marketing and is a fast-developing field looking at the function of the human brain and nervous system. It helps you understand how people think and react.

What is neuromarketing? Neuromarketing, sometimes called ‘consumer neuroscience’, studies the brain's responses to advertising and branding, considering how to fine-tune those messages based on data and feedback.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “neuromarketing has been bolstered over the past five years by several ground-breaking studies that demonstrate its potential to create value for marketers”.

How businesses can benefit from neuromarketing

Neuromarketing includes scientific, evidence-based study of physiological and neural signals via sensors to help gain a deeper insight into preferences and decisions, which can in turn influence advertising campaigns, products and services.

How do I use neuromarketing? The sensors used are EEG (electroencephalogram) on your head, eye tracking cameras and fingertip sensors for BVP (blood volume pulse – heart rate/tension) and GSR (galvanic skin response – skin conductance/sweat). These are used to monitor a person’s state during a human-computer interaction where they are exposed to stimuli.

Put simply, you can measure and record data on responses to your marketing activity, before you commit to the spend. This dramatically reduces the risk by removing the educated guesswork involved in predicting the response of prospective customers.

Neuroscience is a game-changer in marketing campaigns

The initial scepticism around neuroscience marketing has long since subsided and as an increasing number of neuroscience PHDs leave university and move into the private sector, marketing is set to benefit.

Imagine launching a new product to market that your neuromarketing research suggests has a very high probability of a positive adoption rate, confident that you have understood customer preferences, what decision they are likely to make and how it will make them feel. You can literally see the reaction to your latest development before committing the resources to making it.

According to the Harvard Business Review, Google, Microsoft and Facebook all have some form of neuromarketing division, an in-house ‘neurocapability’.

Is neuroscience market research replacing traditional surveys?

Traditional methods of gauging reaction to advertising and branding may involve focus groups, surveys, interviews and PR trends. The main problem with the traditional methods is the potential for bias, error and withholding the truth.

Take two examples. First, we all know that unconscious bias can affect our decisions and someone who has a preference for urban living might not give an appropriate response to a campaign to visit the great outdoors. Second, we know that some people may have motivations or a powerful compulsion to lie, such as someone responding to a product to help them quit smoking.

Before committing to spend your hard-earned money on marketing activity that may not yield the response you expect, you could take a further step and leverage neuromarketing research for a more reliable result.

You may require specialist advice before proceeding and a marketing consultancy, such as Think Beyond in Cheshire, could provide the advice you need to successfully deploy neuromarketing in your business.

An innovative, successful, Chartered Marketer and former Marketing Director with a career history of developing marketing strategies, growing revenue and driving profitability, Mercè garnered a series of awards across a successful career including: Employee of the year 2013, Exceptional High Performer 2014, award winner 2015, talent programme 2016, board member in 2017 and founded Think Beyond Group in 2018.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Enterprise Hub business expert set to take up residency in The Atkinson to help drive local business growth

An Enterprise Hub business expert is set to take up a weekly residency at Southport Library, in The Atkinson, to help Sefton residents start and grow their new businesses.

This fully-funded business support is aimed at helping those in the Sefton area who are looking to start a business, or those who are looking to grow a new business which is under three years old.

Enterprise expert Jacqueline Daley will be offering a number of 1-2-1 appointments every Thursday between 10am - 12pm at Southport Library in the iconic Atkinson building. Appointments should be pre-booked by those wishing to register onto the Enterprise Hub programme.

Enterprise Hub is Liverpool City Region’s “one front door” access point for business support, offering clients a programme of 1-2-1 business support and advice, as well as access to training courses, to help develop their ideas and learn core business skills.

To find out more, visit the Enterprise Hub blog by clicking here

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Enterprise Hub announces Start Up and Grow Week this September!

Enterprise Hub have announced that they're hosting a business Start-up and Grow Week this September!

Running from 16th - 20th September 2019, this week long programme of training, workshops and events is designed to equip you with the skills and know-how to start or grow your business. 

The full line-up of events and how to book is still to be announced, so watch this space! Visit the Enterprise Hub blog for the line-up so far, by clicking here

Follow Enterprise Hub on Twitter and Facebook using @MerseyEntHub to be the first in the know and book your place. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Change it: Progress to Success - “When Did You Start to Fall Apart?”

Steph thought she was living the perfect life until she hit a bump in the road which eventually led to her losing her job, her house and most importantly her family. Nearing rock bottom, she decided it was time to take control of her own life and knock down those barriers getting in the way of her happiness...

"When did you start to fall apart?

This is what The Women's Organisation's trainer Mandy asked me during our first day of Change it: Progress to Success… and that’s when my journey back to ME began. 

I am a woman in her late forties, and I can honestly say that I thought I had it all. A nice partner, great kids, a fabulous house and a great job in the health sector, we went on holidays abroad, no money worries and our friends were fun living family people… life was good!

When you run a business, you are not immune to the government’s austerity cuts, especially with my husbands’ contracts being from Merseyside and his business went bust. He started gambling and lost all our saving and cut a long (familiar) story short, we lost everything. 

It was the most stressful time of our lives and I must admit I didn’t handle things well. It started out just a few drinks to help me sleep at night, I kept telling myself it was medicinal and I needed it with what I was going through, because I was still at work in a respected role I told myself that this made it ok. 

Within a few months I was drinking (secretly) a litre bottle of vodka a week hidden in empty bottles of water. And I thought I could handle it, until one day I was picking the kids up from school and I fell in the corridor and their teacher reported me to social services, not allowing me to take them home.

Drink is the acceptable demon we turn to in a crisis and it turned me into an alcoholic within 6 months. I lost my job, we lost our home and my marriage broke down in front of me and I am under social services for neglect, this is the mother who used to take her kids horse-riding for god sake. I moved back in with my mum, began an alcohol program and at times felt lost and broken. What had happened to my life?

Sitting in the Life Rooms I saw a poster for Change it, thinking what have I got to lose and I had only popped in to see what it had to offer… life was in the title and my life had fell apart in fact. On the first day of Change it, I know I was amongst friends… I was with women in the same boat as me.

On the first day I laughed ‘till I cried. The trainer Mandy has a way that takes the pain out of a bad situation and looks at the humour in everything. She said at the beginning of every session “Change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”

It’s funny how you go through life believing one thing and suddenly you begin to challenge the very beliefs that was the glue that banded your whole existence together. I was brought up to get married, get a dab house, buy nice things and have the kids do well. I had all of that, but still I wasn’t happy. I realise now when all that fell apart, I was just left with ME and who the hell was I without all of that? Change it opened a doorway that I thought was firmly shut and that was the opportunity to be who I’m meant to be. 

The best thing from the course was learning it was ok to fall apart and putting ME together again was a choice and an opportunity for a chance to be the real you for once. It gave me the courage to challenge my beliefs to explore what really makes me happy, and since the programme I am going back to college to study art.

I have a support worker who helped me get another house, half the size of my old one and I’m so much happier. One of my barriers to changing my life was debt and I found Citizens Advice support from the programme and that has helped me so much in sorting out my money matters. 

We all have some crutch, drink, drugs, eating, shopping which can start off small and it’s so easy to let them destroy us. The strange thing is I thought it destroyed me, but Change it helped me see that it has set me free. 

I don’t drink anymore; the course has helped me see that hiding in a bottle doesn’t make the problem go away. I never knew there was so much free support available in Liverpool. If any woman is reading this and maybe feels lost or unhappy then look at me, I am proof it works. I changed my life for the better. Who would have thought I would have started to paint murals, be divorced and jobless …and be the happiest I’ve ever been? Sometimes you must fall apart …to start again

What are you waiting for?"

If you're looking to get started on building a positive future, we still have 'Change it: Progress to Success' dates available:

The Women's Organisation - 54 St James Street, L1 0AB
4 Week session starting Monday 16th September 2019 (10-3)

Belle Vale Childrens Centre - Hedgefield Rd, Liverpool L25 2RW
8 Week session starting Wednesday 25th September 2019 (12:30-2:30)

Yew Tree Childrens Centre -  Berryford Rd, Liverpool L14 4ED
8 Week session starting Thursday 26th September 2019 (12:30-2:30)

If you'd like to find out more information about the programme or to book contact us on 0151 706 8111 or email us on and find out how we can support you.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Business expert set to take up residency at Formby Pool to help drive local business growth

An Enterprise Hub business expert is set to take up a weekly residency at Formby Pool to help Sefton residents start and grow their new businesses.

Heather Davies, Community Development Officer at Formby Pool (left), 
pictured with Enterprise Hub advisor Jacqueline Daley (right).

This fully-funded business support is aimed at helping those in the Sefton area who are looking to start a business, or those who are looking to grow a new business which is under three years old.

Enterprise Hub is Liverpool City Region’s “one front door” access point for business support, offering clients a programme of 1-2-1 business support and advice, as well as access to training courses, to help develop their ideas and learn core business skills.

Enterprise expert Jacqueline Daley will be offering a number of 1-2-1 appointments every Thursday between 1-3pm at Formby Pool. Appointments should be pre-booked by those wishing to register onto the Enterprise Hub programme.

This support will help clients understand the process of starting or growing a business and to research and develop a business plan or growth strategy. Budding entrepreneurs will also be able to learn key skills to develop a sales and marketing strategy, as well as understanding the everyday practicalities of running a business and looking at ways of accessing finance.

Eligibility criteria does apply. To find out more about the service and how to access support, read the full story on the Enterprise Hub blog by clicking here

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Practical advice service helping to tackle causes of poor health

A ground-breaking service that provides financial support and advice through Liverpool GP practices is demonstrating a significant impact.

An evaluation of the Advice on Prescription service, which was introduced by NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and is run by Citizens’ Advice Liverpool (CAB), has shown how it is helping some of the city’s most vulnerable households to increase their income and reduce debt.

NHS Liverpool CCG announced a new five-year contract for Advice on Prescription in 2016, representing a £2.5 million investment as part of its mental health strategy.

Operating from 50 locations across the city, all Liverpool GPs can refer patients for assistance from CAB advisors on a range of issues including: housing, homelessness, job loss, complex debt issues and benefits advice.

Figures compiled by the CCG and the CAB show that between 2016 and 2018 the service resulted in:
  • A total of £6.7 million in income maximisation – helping people make sure they are receiving all the financial support available to them and reducing debt and other outgoings where possible.
  • An average increase in household income for referred patients of £762.
  • Helping people to manage debt totalling £2.7 million – with more than £157,200 of this written off.
The service was developed after GPs reported a rise in patients presenting with problems that had a practical rather than medical cause, reflecting the strong link between social and economic hardship and poor health.

A significant number of Liverpool residents live in areas of high deprivation – the city was ranked as the fourth most deprived authority on the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015.

The evaluation found that nearly 57% of people referred to the service had a monthly household income below £800, and 62% of referrals came from the most deprived areas of the city.

Advice on Prescription reports high levels of satisfaction with both those using the service and GPs who refer people into it: 77% of patients reported an increase in their capacity to manage their own physical and/or mental health, and 23% reported an increase in their capacity to maintain somewhere to live and avoid eviction.

Dr Fiona Lemmens, a Liverpool GP and Chair of NHS Liverpool CCG, said:

“There are many non-medical factors which can impact on a person’s health. As GPs we regularly see patients whose problems are rooted in things happening in other areas of their life, including those struggling with money or housing problems. The strain created by these type of issues increases the risk of developing conditions such as depression and anxiety.

“The Advice on Prescription service gives GPs and other health and care professionals a clear route to help patients who might need practical advice and support. This is good for individuals as it creates an opportunity for them to tackle problems which are having a negative effect on their health, while also reducing pressure on GP practices.

“We’ve very proud of the service and the positive impact it’s having. It demonstrates how we need to recognise the wider issues that impact on physical and mental wellbeing, and the importance of addressing the cause of problems rather than simply treating the symptoms.”  

Debbie Nolan, Project Manager, South Liverpool Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) said:

“Citizens Advice Liverpool are pleased to be the third sector delivery partners on the Advice on Prescription programme, and that is it making such a real difference to the lives and health of so many people in Liverpool. 

“Advice on Prescription is an excellent example of collective and partnership working which is providing help and support to people with a range of non-medical issues such as debt, housing and loneliness and isolation in conjunction with local GP and their teams.”

You can read a full copy of the report here.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Enterprise Hub helps new mum Claire on the road to start up success

After over a decade spent working in various fashion and beauty companies, Claire decided it was time to take charge of her own schedule and put her marketing skills to use with a project of her own.

And so, Clairilla was born.

Clairilla offers digital services for local businesses, including web design, digital marketing and social media. As well as a bespoke e-commerce and brand consultancy offering – specially geared up for clients in the fashion and beauty industries.

Claire says: “I love that by working in these areas it means I can bridge the gap between my love of fashion and beauty with new technology, markets and the future of digital. When I graduated from Liverpool Hope University in 2008 online shopping was booming - being a part of that growth has been such a fulfilling and invaluable experience.”

As a first-time mum Claire decided it was the perfect time to take the plunge and put her experience to the test.

She says: “I had always wanted to set up myself but wanted to gain a varied experience in industry first. Since having my daughter I decided that this would be the perfect time to set up as I can work my schedule around her and work for myself.”

Working from home gives Claire the flexibility to be with her daughter and find a work-life balance, while keeping business costs and overheads down as she continues to grow and develop Clairilla.

So, how did Claire get the ball rolling on her new venture?

Head over to the Enterprise Hub blog to read the full case study, by clicking here. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Former clients Branded Items Group win BIG with North West Family Business of the year accolade.

Our former business growth clients, The Branded Items Group (aka BIG), wins North-West Family Business of the Year at the prestigious E3 Business Awards held at the University of Bolton Stadium.

The St Helens based business, which has been trading for just over two years, impressed a panel of independent business leaders, with their growth, personal approach to customers and their overall business story.

Louise and Steve Fairhurst, co-founders of BIG were presented
with the award by Tracy Heatley, MD of Business over Breakfast.

The family-owned business, run by husband and wife Steve & Louise Fairhurst, Manchester and now provides over 15,000 promotional items and branded merchandise products, from USB sticks and pens to branded clothing.  After launching in January 2017 initially selling just one range of products, BIG has grown and expanded to now supply over 500 customers across the UK,  as well as companies in Sweden, Germany and Ireland.

Speaking on behalf of 1 Events Media, organiser of the awards, Managing Director Mubarak Chati said: "We've seen fast-growing businesses, dedicated staff and employers and fantastic examples of innovation at this year’s awards. To win an award in the face of such impressive competition is an achievement of which Branded Items Group should feel justly proud, and I congratulate them."

Louise Fairhurst, Co-Director of BIG, said: "We took a big risk when we set the business up and we made several sacrifices. I left a well-paid secure job, with no guarantee of a salary to work in the business, but our goal is to build a family business that could create a legacy for our children. We were shocked but delighted to win the award as it’s recognition of the hard work we have put in.”
“The support from The Womens’ Org has been great.  The support provided allowed us to step away from the company and help develop the forward business strategy.”
The business itself, was over two years in the making and only launched after considerable preparation and research into the promotional items industry.
Steve Fairhurst, Co-Director of BIG, said: “We ran an online test company for two years, selling a narrow band of promotional items before launching the Branded Items Group. In the process, we constantly mystery-shopped some of the largest companies in our sector and learned a lot about how they operated.  We felt there was a market for a company that delivered old-fashioned customer service and advice, in an industry that, at times, can be too transactional and e-commerce driven.”
Despite working UK wide and with customers like NHS England, Cancer Research and Ministry of Defence, the business is now focused on raising the profile in the North West
Steve continued: “We like to meet and advise many of our customers, so it makes sense to try and raise our profile in this locality.  We do already work with lots of great businesses in the North West, but in next 12 months, we would like to double the number.”
You can find out more about BIG's services by visiting them online at:
If you'd like to hear more about our business growth support for businesses under three years old in the Liverpool City Region, please contact or call 0151 706 8111.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Legacy of the 2019 World Cup – What’s next for Women’s Football?

The 2019 World Cup tournament in France will long live in the memory, not just for fans of England’s Lionesses, but for a generation of young women inspired to put their boots on.

Since its inception in 1991, the Women’s World Cup has consistently acted as a catalyst for development within Women’s Football, and this year it has catapulted the sport onto a new and exciting level.

Could anyone have predicted at the beginning of the competition, a few weeks ago, the impact it would have?

The semi final between England Lionesses, and eventual winners, the USA, is to date, the most watched UK television programme of the year - a staggering 11.7 million viewers tuned in to watch the game on July 2.

Lionesses and Manager Phil Neville

Figures from the US for the final on Sunday 7 July were close to 15 million, overhauling the Men’s World Cup, in 2018 by three million viewers.

Four of the England team are Liverpool-born, and in their honour, murals have been colourfully etched on to walls around the city area, on Bold Street, London Road, Constance Street and Prenton Park in Birkenhead.

Social media has been a starting block for the artists to showcase their work, other players have also received their own homages in Manchester and London; as public support for the team reached a level never seen before, ahead of the tournament kick off.

This is just one instance of how the women in this year’s World Cup have left an imprint on artists and in turn, on the public that frequent these areas.

The BBC has also risen to the occasion, giving Women’s World Cup matches more air time. They have recently announced they will continue their legacy project of showing Women’s Super League games on UK television alongside their popular ‘The Women’s Football Show’.

Barclays have also agreed a ground breaking sponsorship deal with the WSL, as Women’s Football continues its meteoric rise. In the past month, France has pushed the game to the forefront of attention across the globe – with everyone involved in the game now eager to carry the torch forward.

Twitter has also launched a ‘Women in Football’ emoji, along with a hashtag to support the ‘What If’ campaign. The Women in Football project has developed UK football from grassroots level to the WSL. The 2019-20 season promises even more support for their work, as fans, players and clubs look to drive the sport on, and prevent a dip in participation in the years to come.

Football as a game needs pioneers and individuals that are determined to push the boundaries both on and off the pitch.

2019 has provided many heroes, including Megan Rapinoe, who stepped up and delivered, and refused to have her principles compromised.

Rapinoe, has won admirers on the field as she drove the US onto glory, scoring in every knockout game, while also challenging the President of the United States, with her sincerity and unwillingness to be cowed or bullied by a backlash of social media reaction with her refusal to visit the White House.

Megan Rapinoe: U.S Women's Football Team

Ironically, in 1921 there were roughly 150 women’s teams in England, which was largely a result of WWI. But by December 1921, the Footballs Association decided to ban women’s football, rendering it as “quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged". The ban was eventually lifted 50 years later, in 1971, and now nearly 100 years later, women are showing their support and love of the game in huge crowds once again.

Female players have consistently had to go the extra mile to break down barriers of discrimination and negative stereotypes to be taken seriously in a once considered, male dominated sport.

But the tide is turning and with Women’s Football at a real turning point, the tournament in 2023 will be the strongest indication yet of where the global game is for women.

- Written by Aimee Owens

Be-Baby on the Worldwide Success and Growth of Innovative Brand 'Tidy Tot'

Be-Baby Ltd has been taking the baby product industry by storm, creating innovative multi-award-winning weaning brand ‘Tidy Tot’ which now sells its products in most of the major retailers in the UK, (Ocado, JoJo Maman Bebe, Amazon) along with exporting to 17 countries worldwide. We caught up with founder Jennifer Unsworth to talk growth. 

Jennifer Unsworth with children

After 7 years supporting long term unemployed and vulnerable members of society to enhance workplace skills, Jennifer decided it was time to take the plunge into self-employment and in 2015, Be-Baby was born “I loved my job, and the decision to leave to set up a business of my own was not an easy one.  But having my daughter helped me find a real gap in the market for effective feeding bibs for when babies learn to self-feed, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take my idea for a product further.”

The Tidy Tot brand was established to make mealtimes less stressful for parents by introducing the Tidy Tot bib and tray kit. The unique products not only close the gap between the baby and highchair to prevent food from falling onto the baby’s lap, but the large tray means food cannot be dropped on the floor.

Operating from a small home office with 4 staff, Be-Baby are aiming high by forecasting 100% growth in 2019.“This year we’re being particularly ambitious - primarily as a result of rapid growing sales in China and the Far East”

To help with the growth of the product, Be-Baby has been receiving support from Greater Manchester based Excelerate Labs programme, working with Senior Business Adviser, Mike Marsden: “We've had regular meetings with Mike and always left every meeting brimming with ideas and new ways to tackle problems. Members of my team have attended training at The Women’s Organisation which has been invaluable to my business”

As a born and bred proud northerner, Jennifer says the North West has helped nurture her entrepreneurial flare, telling us: “The North has more limited top employment opportunity compared to London, I think the entrepreneurial spark is better able to grow” 

Be-Baby started 2019 off on a high, winning numerous awards such as Amazon’s Export Champion of the Year, being crowed small Business of the Year at the North East Cheshire Business awards and have recently been invited to join the Northern Powerhouse as one of DIT’S Export Champions in their 2019 campaign. With all these achievements under their belt, they aren't stopping there.

Tidy Tot product

“We have secured two big name partnerships that will really help support our position as a weaning brand of choice amongst new parents. We are incredibly excited that the partnerships we’ve harnessed will really help to put the Tidy Tot brand and products front of mind as parents research weaning methods and equipment, and all serve to make their weaning journey a little easier.”

And what has been Be-Baby’s key to success?

Jennifer said: “We’ve never been afraid to take risks, sometimes you have to trust yourself and give it a go. In a product-based business like ours, there are some key things that we’ve learned along the way that have really contributed to our rapid growth”

She added: “Not waiting for product to be 100% ‘perfect’ before you show it to your customer is one – there is time to refine and develop product once it’s in the hands of the consumer – they are your very best source of product development and we never stop listening to them.” 

Finally, we asked Jennifer who inspires her in her professional career “Women in business are always inspiring to me.  It’s a real struggle to juggle demands of family and work, and in male dominated industries like manufacturing it can be difficult to have your voice heard.” 

To learn more about Be-Baby and its Tidy Tot products, you can visit their website

If you would like to benefit from the support received under the Excelerate Labs programme, then please contact:

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

One-Day FREE Course to Help Liverpool Women Manage Stress

Is feeling stressed taking its toll on your mind, body and general health? You are not alone. Recognising and dealing with stress can be a hard cycle to break.

Stress is a reaction to feeling under pressure, and everyone feels stressed sometimes.

However, stress is something which can be managed via your thinking. If you can train your mind to think right and think positive, you’ll be able to cope with stress better.

This year we’ve made it our mission to help the women of Liverpool step BEYOND stress, because we all need a helping hand sometimes.

Our FREE one-day course is open to women living in the Liverpool City Council area who are dealing with stress, living with a health condition or a disability. And this summer, we’re taking Step Beyond Stress on the road to a number of venues throughout Liverpool:

Stoneycroft Children’s Centre – 15th July, 12 – 3pm

Anfield Children’s Centre – 17th July, 9:15 – 12:15pm

The Women's Organisation, 54 St James Street – 18th July, 10 – 3pm

Clubmoor Children’s Centre – 22nd July, 10 – 1pm

Ellergreen Community & Early Years Centre – 7th August, 10 – 1pm

The Women's Organisation, 54 St James Street – 5th August, 10 – 3pm

PAL Centre – 8th August, 11 – 2pm

Women’s Advice Centre – 14th August, 9:30 – 12:30pm

Felicity House – 20th August, 10 – 1pm

WHISC – 22nd August, 1:30 – 4:30pm

The Women's Organisation, 54 St James Street – 3rd September, 10 – 3pm

This course covers:
  • The signs, symptoms and causes of stress 
  • What stops us caring for ourselves? 
  • Lifestyle changes 
  • The ability to categorise reasons for stress 
  • How to develop coping strategies

If you’d like to find out more about Step Beyond Stress or book a place, please contact the venue directly using the phone number below.

Stoneycroft Children’s Centre – 0151 233 4770

Anfield Children’s Centre – 0151 233 4001

The Women’s Organisation, 54 St James Street – 0151 706 8111

Clubmoor Children’s Centre – 0151 233 8500

Ellergreen Community & Early Years Centre – 0151 233 3337

PAL Centre – 0151 708 9669

Women’s Advice Centre – 0151 494 1777

Felicity House – 07572545691

WHISC – 0151 707 1826

This course is part of the Citizens Advice on Prescription: Ways to Wellbeing Liverpool programme.