Friday, December 7, 2012

Victoria is Pleased with the Impact! of Going Self-Employed

Although no one in her family had walked the path of self-employment before, something inside Liverpool resident Victoria Symes told her this was an adventure she needed to try.
She said “I wanted to set up my own business as I am passionate about making a difference to society and felt I had a lot to offer. I also wanted the freedom to develop my own projects, so once the idea was there I knew I had to take it forward.”

Before establishing Impact! Fundraising Victoria worked in the fundraising and development teams of a number of organisations including the University of Liverpool, the British Film Institute and the Science Museum, London. She had always been an active volunteer in the charity sector including being a committee member for the Liverpool City Rotary Club, and when her previous work came to an end it was the perfect time for her to pull together all of her experience to launch her new venture.
Victoria heard that local women’s enterprise support agency The Women’s Organisation could offer support to women in Liverpool who were looking to set up a business, and decided to approach the organisation for some support.

“Initially I found the idea of setting up my own business really daunting” said Victoria. “I was lucky in that a lead for my first work came in through recommendations, but my next step was to develop a business plan and marketing strategy to help me establish my business. Although I am used to advising organisations on making the most of what they have I struggled to find the confidence to promote myself and really didn't know where to start! I think a lot of women struggle with this. The Women's Organisation were amazing - everything from developing a personal business plan to social media tips to encouragement, it was all a huge help.”

Victoria has now launched her business Impact! Fundraising which provides fundraising consultancy to charities, Higher Education and the arts sector. She can also help organisations develop strategic plans and put together funding bids to maximise their income from philanthropy, charitable trusts, companies and public sector funders. For start-up companies Impact! Fundraising offer help securing funding from the public and charitable sector.

Speaking of her progress so far Victoria said “I've been overwhelmed with the response so far and receive regular enquiries from new potential clients which has been really exciting. I don't want to take this for granted though so I'm continuing to work hard at developing the business. I love the independence of working for myself, the chance to create something successful and of course the opportunity to work with so many inspiring clients.”

If you are interested in finding out how Impact! Fundraising can support you then contact Victoria on or visit You can also link up with Victoria on Twitter by following @victoria_impact.

“If one of my friends came to me now and said they were thinking of going self-employed, I would advise them to be confident in what they know and are passionate about, and to draw on the experiences of the people they know and organisations like The Women's Organisation for everything else!” said Victoria.

If you are a woman with a business idea why not take her advice and contact The Women’s Organisation for support on 0151 706 8111 or

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Womens' Organisation's WICED Building Wins Mayor's Award

The Women's Organisation's hard work paid off this month as we were once again confirmed to be an award winning organisation. This time it was the organisation's new £5.3m Women's International Centre for Economic Development (WICED) that prompted recognition.

The winners of the very first Merseyside Social Enterprise Awards were honoured at a ceremony held at Liverpool Town Hall, and The Women's Organisation were delighted to be nominated alongside other Merseyside based Social Enterprises nominated in 11 categories to recognise their contribution to improving the lives of local residents.

WICED was nominated for The Mayor's Innovation Award sponsored by Liverpool City Council. When The Women's Organisation were announced as the winners for their innovative building, Chair of the board Pat Shea Halson and Chief Finance and Operating Officer Helen Millne who went forward to collect the award couldn't contain their delight. When Councillor Nick Small (pictured above with Pat and Helen) presented the award to The Women's Organisation the support from the other organisations in the room was overwhelming; Helen and Pat were deeply touched by the response.

The development came about after nearly a decade of discussion, planning and campaigning. WICED is the largest dedicated centre for women's economic development in the UK. It boasts business incubation units for women led businesses, a sleek and modern conferencing and meeting centre, virtual office and hot desking facilities, as well as housing the women's enterprise services offered by the organistion. The project also included the development of an international research hub drawing on the expertise of leading experts on women's economic development from across the globe. The development was completed in January 2011 and has since welcomed thousands of budding female entrepreneurs.

To read more about the background of the development please visit our website.

If you might be interested in hiring our meeting rooms or holding a conference here please contact our team on or 0151 706 8100.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Liverpool Woman Turns Redundancy into Business Opportunity: Emily's Story

Redundancy was turned to opportunity for Liverpool resident Emily Ross, who created her own job by setting up her business ‘EAT Landscape’. Having been employed for four years as a Senior Landscape Architect at a large multi-disciplinary architectural practice in Liverpool, Emily fell victim of the current economic climate, being made redundant in 2011 as the business were finding their workload had dramatically reduced. Although her experience and qualifications were quality, Emily found the job market a tough road to navigate.

Emily said “I spent about three months looking for work however there were very few positions for landscape architects advertised in the northwest and I didn’t want to re-locate due to my husband having a secure, local job that he enjoyed. At the same time I started to think about taking on freelance work, working for landscape and architectural companies who may have just won a large project and needed some additional resources on a temporary basis.”

Emily found comfort chatting to close friend Helen, who had been successfully working as a freelance consultant in a similar environmental field for about a year and really enjoying it.

“I asked her loads and loads of questions about whether I should be a sole trader or a limited company, insurances, did I need a Business Plan, business cards, websites, getting clients etc. I was also very keen to get some kind of business training, having had no experience of running my own company before. Through ‘Googling’ about business courses in Liverpool and the local area I came across the Women’s Organisation and found out about all the amazing services that they offer to help women set up in business.”

Although Emily had determination, she found niggling doubts her biggest barrier to achieving her goal “The only thing that stood in my way was simply my own fear and lack of self-belief. I worried about how to go about the whole process, entering the unknown and doing something completely different. However once I had met an advisor from The Women’s Organisation and starting talking things through and making an Action Plan, the fear turned into excitement and enthusiasm about getting started.”

While setting up her business Emily proved her ideas to be award winning! Having kept busy by volunteering with Family Refugee Support Project ( charity in Toxteth, Emily helped them to produce a garden at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park to showcase their work which went on to win the silver medal. She is keen to keep the link there even while running her business through joining the Friends group that they are currently setting up, to help with future fundraising events and projects.

Having completed the courses and receiving advice from The Women’s Organisation, Emily was awarded a £200 grant to help her set up her business which she decided to call ‘EAT Landscape’.

“The business is called EAT Landscape because I am really interested in using creative ways to incorporate edible planting into designs for public and private spaces. This includes mixing delicious fruit, herbs and vegetables with more traditional planting. The result is a unique and beautiful landscape, which not only looks good but that you can EAT.”

Feeling proud of her achievement, Emily is positive that she has made the right decision going self-employed.

“I was feeling at a bit of a loss when I was made redundant last year but since then I’ve met so many interesting people and learnt so much, I definitely wouldn’t turn back the clock. My confidence has definitely increased and I think it has done me a lot of good to be pushed out of my comfort zone and doing new things all the time.”

Her advice to other women considering taking the brave step into business is “Go for it! Get some really good business training (preferably from the Women’s Organisation!) and definitely put together a Business Plan, even if you’re not looking for a business loan. All the services I have received from the Women’s Organisation have been a huge help to me setting up my own business. The staff I have met have all been very knowledgeable, professional and very warm and friendly. I have also enjoyed meeting other women setting up in business during the courses I attended, sharing stories and swapping useful tips. It’s also good to talk to friends and family, particularly ones that work in a similar field, who are running their own business to get their advice and hear their positive experiences and the negative things too. It’s good to go into business with your eyes wide open!”

EAT Landscape provide landscape design services for, 1) Commercial landscape projects e.g. schools, nurseries, hospitals, housing projects, parks and open spaces, community gardens, play areas, care homes etc. and 2) Private garden clients. To find out more about the services Emily offers through her business visit or contact Emily via 0151 494 3478

And if like Emily you are a woman looking to turn redundancy into an opportunity, contact The Women’s Organisation on 0151 706 8111/ to find out what help you can receive.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Female enterprise agency offers lifeline to unemployed Mersey women

Unemployed women or those facing redundancy are being offered a lifeline by Liverpool-based female enterprise agency The Women’s Organisation.

The award-winning agency has teamed up with Liverpool City Council to launch a new initiative to help women to either set up their own business or find a job.

The ‘Women’s Enterprise Programme’ is backed by European funding and aims to work with more than 300 women within the Liverpool city region.

The Women’s Organisation is offering a range of options to support women in to work – either on a self-employed basis or into a job. The help available includes courses on applying for jobs, standing out at interview, advice from a qualified business adviser about starting up a business and grants that are available and networking opportunities.

The initiative comes as recent unemployment figures revealed that women have been hit hardest in the recession with the numbers claiming Jobseekers Allowance more than doubling in the last five years in the Merseyside region.

Experts say women have been hit hardest by public sector cuts, which have disproportionately impacted on women due to the high numbers working in the sector.

Maggie O’Carroll, chief executive of The Women’s Organisation, said: “It is widely recognised that women have borne the brunt of the recession with many in the area either out of work or facing redundancy and are unsure of what to do next.

“We have the expertise to work with them on a one to one basis and provide support that is very much tailored to individual needs. We are delighted to be working with Liverpool City Council to able to provide this much-needed service and look forward to working with lots of women.”

Councillor Nick Small, Cabinet member for employment, enterprise and skills, said: “Giving people the help and support to get into work is one of our priorities and I am delighted that we have been able to team up with the Women’s Organisation for this important initiative.

“These are difficult times for everyone, but we know that women have been particularly hit hard and that is why it is absolutely vital that we do all we can to give them the help and support necessary to find new employment.”

The Women’s Enterprise Programme also enables The Women’s Organisation to work with staff facing redundancy within major organisations.

Women eligible to apply for the programme include those who are unemployed, economically inactive, working less than 16 hours a day or are under threat of redundancy.

Situated in the Baltic Triangle area of the city, the £5.3m Women’s International Centre for Economic Development provides a range of services focused on women’s start-up businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises.

As well as an international research and knowledge centre, the building also provides ‘incubation’ units for new and high growth women enterprises. The units are proving popular with more and more female entrepreneurs choosing to run their businesses from the centre.

To find out more about the programme or the other free services available from The Women’s Organisation, including advice and support on starting a business, call 0151 706 8111.

Alternatively please email or visit

Caption: From left: Jackie Williams, enterprise director at The Women's Organisation is pictured with Councillor Nick Small, Cabinet member for employment, enterprise and skills and Kim Griffiths, head of employment programmes at Liverpool City Council

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Women's Organisation to host live broadcast of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour

Liverpool-based female enterprise agency The Women’s Organisation is to host a live broadcast of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

The popular magazine programme – with more than three million listeners - will come live from the Women’s International Centre for Economic Development on Monday, 12th March, hosted by Liverpool-born presenter Jane Garvey.

The special programme, being broadcast during the city’s hosting of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, will focus on female entrepreneurship.

An expert panel of prominent businesswomen will answer questions from a 150-strong audience on topics including setting up and running a business - from raising finance and developing overseas markets to combining work with family.

Maggie O’Carroll, chief executive of The Women’s Organisation, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that BBC’s Woman’s Hour has chosen to broadcast a programme from our international centre, particularly with all eyes on Liverpool as the city hosts the Global Entrepreneurship Congress.

“Our centre is the only one of its kind in the UK, focusing on female enterprise, providing a hub for female entrepreneurs and housing an international research centre. We really look forward to welcoming the Woman’s Hour team and audience members here during what will be a very exciting week.”

Jane Garvey, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, said: “When we learned about the Women’s International Centre for Economic Development we were very impressed and it seemed the obvious choice when selecting a venue to broadcast a live programme during Global Entrepreneurship Week. I am really looking forward to coming to Liverpool as it the city where I was born and bred.”

Working with partners Liverpool Vision and the Kauffman Foundation, the Women’s Organisation will host a series of events as part of the GEC’s week-long festival of enterprise.

These include a global research symposium, a female business mastermind and a female entrepreneurship international policy roundtable. Liverpool is the first city in Europe to host the international event, which starts on March 9.

Situated in the Baltic Triangle area of the city, the £5.3m Women’s International Centre for Economic Development provides a range of services focused on women’s start-up businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises.

As well as an international research and knowledge centre, the building also provides ‘incubation’ units for new and high growth women enterprises. The units are proving popular with more and more female entrepreneurs choosing to run their businesses from the centre.

BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour will be broadcast from The Women’s Organisation between 10am-10.45am on Monday, 12th March. To apply for free tickets go to

To find out more about the free services available from The Women’s Organisation, including advice and support on starting a business, call 0151 706 8111.

Alternatively please email or visit

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Women's Organisation Awarded Disability Symbol

We are pleased to confirm that The Women’s Organisation has been awarded the Disability Symbol Employer status for 2012.

The organisation have carried the symbol since 2010, but recently underwent a review to look at the organisations continued approach to the five commitments to good employment practice which the symbol represents.

Operations manager at The Women's Organisation Lynn Kelly, who was instrumental in gathering evidence for the assessment with JobCentrePlus representatives, said "We were delighted to be able to show our commitment to the ethos that this award represents. We are keen to continue to show our commitment to employ, keep and develop the abilities of disabled staff and will display our award symbol proudly."

You can see more information about the award and 5 commitments here - Disability Symbol.