Thursday, December 15, 2016

It’s Raining Cats (But Not Dogs) For Mersey Cat Nanny Alicia Williams!

Well we would never have guessed that within the space of a few months we would publish interview with not only a luxury doggy day care centre, but also a cat nanny! Meet Alicia Williams, the Birkenhead based Mersey Cat Nanny!

Alicia offers a friendly and professional cat sitting service on the Wirral (But she will also catsit in Liverpool city centre on request too) She told us; ‘I have over 6 years’ experience and have 3 cats myself and to be honest I am cat crazy!’ Alicia is the woman to ring if you need help looking after your furry friends whilst you are away from home. ‘I will feed your cats, change their litter trays, play with them, groom them, let them out if you require and anything else!’ As well as this Alicia also provides home security, opening and closing curtains, and switching lights on and off to give the illusion that the owners are at home. As well as this Alicia will also take out bins, collect mail and water plants. 

Alicia and her cat Pumba
It’s been 6 months since Alicia launched Mersey Cat Nanny and prior to this she was working in childcare as a preschool teacher; ‘I went from kids to cats, so quite a change! I’d been wanting to start this business for quite a few years but I had been living in Ireland and as my husband’s job there wasn’t permanent it wasn’t the right time to start a new business’

When Alicia moved to Birkenhead she thought it was the perfect time to start Mersey Cat Nanny! ‘I went into Birkenhead Library and found a poster from The Women’s Organisation offering business start-up support so got in touch. I was set up with Claire Pedersen and that’s how it started.’ 

Alicia began working with Claire on her business plan and market research and took part in our training courses, learning about tax and national insurance and bookkeeping. It was when Alicia undertook her market research that she found out there was a real need for the service that she wanted to provide and this spurred her on and made her decision to start the business final. ‘It’s been fantastic working with Claire, she’s really helped me to understand the business side of things and it’s great to have this extra support that I can access.’ 

Honey, a customers of Alicia's!
Alicia is an individual who really relishes being self-employed and it suits her lifestyle perfectly. And she says herself, that as a woman who is incredibly passionate about cats 'This is my dream job!'

'I also like being by own boss. Even though I can’t call in sick because I have customers relying on me, it’s nice to know that I’m my own boss and I don’t have to answer to anybody.’

Another great part of Alicia’s business is the flexibility that it offers for both herself and her customers; ‘There are so many different options available in my business. I can do overnight stays, visit once a day or twice a day. Whatever the customer wants! It’s been proven that pets in general do much better staying at home rather than in kennels or catteries and I am really passionate about that.’ 

Although Alicia acknowledges what some might see as a downside to her business, she rarely sees her human customers and more face to face time is spent with the cats! ‘Some people might see it as a lonely business, but I’m quite happy with it like this. I’m not a hugely sociable person and have a few close friends whom I see. For me if I can be my own boss and make my own hours, it outweighs things like that.’ 

Twiglet the cat. Another customer!
So far Mersey Cat Nanny is going from strength to strength and Alicia is pleased and proud with what she has achieved over the past 6 months. She already has some fantastic testimonials. One customer Beth said; ‘I am so happy with Alicia! She has been cat sitting a couple of times a week whilst I’m at work. I love the daily updates and pictures that she sends me to reassure me that they are being well cared for. I feel happy and content that my 3 cats are being loved and well treated’

If you would like to find out more about Alicia’s services as the Mersey Cat Nanny you can do so by using the contact details below!

And if you’ve been inspired by Alicia’s story and would like our help and support starting your own business, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Email us on or ring us on 0151 706 8111

Mobile Number: 07576 057555
Email Address: 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Celebrating Those Who Changed It

Here at The Women’s Org we have just wrapped up our fourth and final Change It programme of the year. This blog will look at the feedback from our final project and fill you in about all that happened at our 2016 Change It Celebration.

Change It is an empowering programme for women living in Liverpool with a diagnosed mental health condition and who are looking for support to build a more positive future. Change It began in 2016 and ran four very successful projects across the year and we believed that this called for a Christmas celebration!

Trainer of 'Change It', Bernie Cox

Last week we hosted an event at 54 St James Street inviting all the women who attended our 2016 Change It courses for a chance to ‘catch up’ over a cup of tea and a mince pie, in true festive spirit. The event gave the participating women across all four courses a chance to meet each other, think about just how far they have come and look ahead to the future.

Also in attendance was guest speaker and 54 Tenant Steve Flatt from the Psychological Therapies Unit to deliver an interesting and thought-provoking discussion on positive thinking. Steve introduced us to Solution-Focused Practice which is a highly effective and refreshing way of approaching the job of having ‘helping conversations’ with people. Solution-Focused Practice focuses on what is going right for you and how you want things to be, a progressive therapy that allows you to move forward.

Steve Flatt from The Psychological Therapies Unit

Reflecting on the project and the impact it had, we asked the women what they thought had been the best thing about ‘Change It’, comments included:

 “No pressure to introduce myself”
“Thinking about my achievements”
“An all-female surrounding”
“Doesn’t focus on goals”
“Small group discussions”

We then asked what they felt they had successfully changed, comments included:

“I feel more assertive and confident”
“Reduced my anxiety”
“Self-worth has improved”
“More positive feelings and thinking”

Finally, we asked what difference it has made to their wellbeing, comments included:

“More confident”
“Given structure to my days”
“Made new friends”
“More confident”
“Encouraged me to purse formal education”
“Improved my self-esteem”
“Made me deal with everyday situations better”

Change It Certificate 
The event was a huge success and a great cause for celebration, putting into perspective just how far each ‘Change It’ attendee had come having officially Changed It.

A big thank you to Steve Flatt for providing such great food-for-thought with his expertise in Solution-Focused Practice. If you would like to find out more about The Psychological Therapies Unit and the services they offer, please visit  or email

If you are a female living in Liverpool with a diagnosed mental health condition and looking for support to building a positive future, our next Change It programme will commence on Wednesday 11th of January. If you would like to find out more, get in touch with our Engagement team on 0151 706 8111 or email

Women Gathered to Find Out How to 'Make Childcare Your Business'

On Thursday 1st December we held another brilliant session from our 'Make it Your Business' series, this time based on childcare – from independent childminder to nursery care. It was a perfect morning for anyone interested in childcare, whether considering a career change or currently studying 'Early Years’. As is our custom, refreshments started the day with pastry delicacies to get us motivated for the morning.  

Our guest speakers Saeeda & Sarah with Sabah from The WO

The event began with a brief introduction from Jo Austin, marketing and engagement coordinator, about The Women’s Organisation, the free services we provide to start-ups through the Enterprise Hub programme (part funded by European Regional Development Fund) and the support you can expect from us.

We were very lucky to have hosted Saeeda Aslam from 'Happy Children Nursery' and Sarah Higginson from ‘Liverpool City Council’, both experts in the field. First up Saeeda gave a brief introduction to the unique nursery she helped set up in L15. She shared her experiences, highlighting the challenges including managing turnover of staff and rewards of setting up a childcare business. Saeeda told us that childcare is a demanding yet a rewarding field as long as you are truly passionate.

Following this Sarah educated our attendees on the qualifications required and the legal aspects of setting up a childcare business. She also offered top tips of how to succeed in obtaining a registration from OFSTED. Reflecting on her own experience of running a nursery and then retraining in business to offer advice, Sarah advised that a good mix of knowing what you are doing in terms of childcare and building your business skills is a good mix if you are looking to go self-employed in this field.

Along with this, we held a question and answer session. This was a great opportunity for attendees to ask questions from our experts and find out a bit more. Thank you very much to both, our attendees really valued the tips you gave them!

After a quick break to grab another pastry, Sabah Shams, from the engagement team delivered the rest of the session. This included: a quick tour of the qualifications required to set up a business may that be childminding or nursery or after school club. Further, covering the legislation, insurance cover – basically everything you need to know! The most important message Sabah gave to our attendees was the significance of business planning and market research – as these really do determine the success of your business.

We had fantastic feedback and attendees thoroughly enjoyed the day. Below are some of the fabulous feedback we received:  

·        “Question answer sessions were really beneficial, really enjoyed the relaxed and informal session which was delivered in a professional friendly way. I have learnt really useful tips.”
·        “A really helpful session, coming away with more confidence and insight to setting up my own business.”
·        “So happy I attended this session today, made me think about lots of aspects of running a business.”

Do not worry if you missed out, we will be holding many other events next year – so be sure to keep an eye out!

An in the meantime if you would like to speak to one of our business advisers to look closely at your business idea on a one to one basis then contact The Women’s Organisation on 0151 706 8111 or drop a line to

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

From The Television World To The World Of Healing, With Simply Angels Founder, Samantha Foley

Samantha Foley, a Plus Dane tenant from Halton made massive changes in her life after her daughter began school and decided to start her own business, doing what she had always been passionate about; healing others.

‘I have worked in television for 17 years on shows such as Hollyoaks, Brookside and Grange Hill as a Script Supervisor and also working with continuity. But once my daughter, Angel, started school, I found that filming 60 hours each week was very difficult!’

Samantha had always had an interest in different types of Holistic Therapies and it was at this time that she began to try and juggle both her television work and also her alternative therapies. ‘I began to train as a Script Supervisor back in 2001 and at the same time began to train in Reiki. I was finding both quite tough. But I was really encouraged by the reception from those that I worked with. I would be asked why I hadn’t started my own business and I realised that this was my calling and it was time for me to learn about how to start my own business.’

Simply Angels is Samantha’s all-encompassing business and she has many different types of Holistic treatments that she can offer including; Angelic Reiki, Ursui Reiki, Reflexology, Massage, Crystal Healing and Sound Therapy. And as well as all of this Samantha also teaches Yoga classes around her local area.

‘When I decided to start my business I was excited, scared and also clueless! I knew what I wanted to do but I wasn’t sure how to market myself as something a little bit different to your usual Holistic Therapist. My boyfriend pointed me in the direction of The Women’s Organisation and I went from there!’

Samantha met one of our Engagement Team at West Kirby library and was able to then arrange to meet our Halton based business adviser Mike Marsden at a location nearer to her home. Mike helped Samantha with her premises as the location that she had previously been in wasn’t attracting much passing trade and soon after Samantha moved to a local garden centre and hired a unit there. She was also able to continue having one to one meetings with Mike and attend training and courses with us to help develop her business.

'The advice from The Women’s Organisation is the best advice I’ve been given so far. It’s excellent and professional and it’s great to have that insight and see the potential for you as a business. Also the encouragement and kindness given by the advisors is priceless, that will stay with me forever.’

After launching her business, Simply Angels, Samantha is delighted to report; ‘It’s going really, really well!’ After working in television for many years she had a large network of people and a community that she could tell about the work that she was doing. Samantha told us; ‘It’s only the beginning of my journey but I feel really satisfied with the service I offer my clients. But there is so much more I would like to offer in the future! Whilst I’m building my foundations now I am like a little acorn and one day I hope to be a mighty oak!’

And self-employment is definitely the right choice for Samantha, as not only does it mean that she can now work around the school hours, but it also seems a great fit for her personality. ‘People who go into business alone are different, they have uniqueness and individuality. It’s an adrenaline rush, striving to get a decent income and fighting through the doubt. But believing in yourself is key!’

We wish Samantha all the best of luck with her business; Simply Angels! If you would like to find out more about the work that Samantha is doing you can use the contact details below!

If you’ve been inspired by Samantha’s story and would like some advice on how to start up your own business, then get in touch with us! Email us on or ring us on 0151 706 8111

Mobile Number: 07967634208

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Mindfulness Changed Nicola Forshaw's Life And Helped Her Start Her Own Business; Mindfit

Mindfulness has become something of a buzzword over the last few years, but very few people actually know what it is! Or the benefits that it can bring to your life. One woman who does is Nicola Forshaw, founder of Mindfit, a provider of Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence training to schools, businesses and individuals.

Nicola says; ‘Mindfulness is a practice. It is a way of being. Mindfulness is not a religion, doesn’t take a lot of time and can be practiced anywhere, sitting on a bus, walking to work, at your desk, cooking at home or even socialising with your friends. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to your thoughts, emotions and body sensations in the present moment non-judgementally and with compassion.’

‘When we do this it allows us to create some space in the mind to respond skilfully rather than habitually. This can lead us to making wiser decisions. Mindfulness is a way of being that can help us to build up emotional intelligence skills such as resilience, focus and compassion for our self and others.’

At Mindfit, Nicola works with CEO’s, executive teams and staff to improve wellbeing, performance and company culture. She also works with schools, colleges and universities teaching both teachers and pupils mindfulness to improve their emotional wellbeing, focus and attention, teaching ‘how to live in the present moment’ and cultivate attitudes of positivity and kindness.

Prior to setting up her own business Nicola worked for 15 years in corporate sales and business development in telecommunications, advertising and sports marketing. But it wasn’t until 2008 that Nicola found mindfulness after she began meditating to help her cope with stress and depression that she was facing. ‘The practice was key in transforming my mind set, and my life!’ Ever since then Nicola has been studying meditation, personal development and mindfulness, and in 2010 she decided that she wanted a career change. ‘I had two objectives, it had to be something I was passionate about and it had to be something that would help others. Ironically, the idea came to me whilst meditating! I wanted to teach others how to find peace and happiness, which lead to me becoming an accredited mindfulness teacher.’

Nicola got in contact with her local growth hub broker The Women's Organisation and was directed to tailored business growth support through our programme; New Markets 2 and began working with Business Adviser; Janine Hyland. ‘ I benefited enormously from my one to one mentoring with Janine who has shown genuine interest in the growth of my business and has been brilliant to work with!’ Nicola worked with Janine and had one to one meetings as well as an away morning with her to help her plan her growth strategy.

For Nicola one of the biggest barriers when starting her business was the lack of start-up capital. To solve this problem Nicola decided to continue working full-time whilst she started her business simultaneously. ‘For the first couple of years I had to continue working whilst studying and practicing mindfulness during evenings and weekends. This was very tiring, especially with a young baby, thinking back it was such hard work but definitely worth it!’

Mindfulness in the workplace
Nicola has always juggled many different things and is dedicated to finding the perfect work/life balance. ‘I’m a working mum so I have to fit my business around my young daughter. So like most working mums there can be a lot of juggling. But when it’s your passion, it doesn’t feel like work!’ And even within the business Nicola admits that there are a lot of different areas to contend with; ‘There’s so much to think about when you’re running your business; marketing, social media, accounts, networking, business development – and that’s on top of the most important work of all which is the teaching!’ – But Nicola says that her own mindfulness practice has helped her enormously to cope and also achieve her goals, she sets aside 30-40 minutes each day for this.

Now Mindfit is going from strength. Nicola says; ‘We are working with national as well as local businesses and the number of clients we have has quadrupled since last year with 98% of the attendees rating our sessions as excellent! We are now working with larger groups, I recently taught a session at Liverpool Hope University that was attended by 140 people! I am excited about taking the business forward in 2017 and have lots of plans to continue to bring mindfulness and meditation to a wider audience and help people lead happier, healthier lives.’

If you would like to find out more about Mindfit, you can do so by using the contact details below!

Feb 2018 update...

Since working on the New Markets 2 Programme Nicola's business has continued to grow, seeing significant increase in her turnover, and building an impressive client portfolio.
Over the last 12 months Nicola has been implementing a mindfulness programme at Merseyside Police.  
Nicola told us "It's a great opportunity to work with an organisation under immense pressure to change mindset and culture in a positive way". 
Thanks to unbelievable feedback Nicola currently has a further 5 courses commissioned with Merseyside Police and she is finding waiting lists are often needed as the staff can see what a positive impact the programme is having.  
Nicola commented "As the police officers are learning how to let worry and tension go, they are not only improving their health and well being, but their productivity is increasing."
On the back of the success in Merseyside, Nicola is due to start working on a similar project with West Yorkshire Police, and is positive about the direction her business is going in.

And if you’ve been inspired by Nicola’s story and would like to find out how we can help you start or grow your business through our programmes part funded by European Regional Development Fund, then get in touch with us!  We operate as a broker for the local growth hub meaning we are available to give advice and guidance whatever stage your business. Email us on or ring us on 0151 706 8111


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Are You Ready To Grow? | Planning For Business Growth With Excelerate Labs

Planning is the key to success in any business. It’s sensible to review your performance on a regular basis and identify the most likely strategies so you can grow your business. Here are some of our tips on planning for business growth: 

Look Back to Look Forward
Study the past successes of your company and use this to create new ideas for future achievements. By regularly assessing your performance against the plan that you began with, you are more likely to reach your goals. By doing this you can highlight where and why you have gone astray. By choosing to reassess every three to six months, this will show direction and commitment to employees, customers and suppliers as well as keeping you focused

Look Around
Also study your competition, the trends of your target market, and economic trends to forecast your growth plan. Looking over the business plans of various other companies that have seen great recent success, both in your industry and in other industries, you can use their ideas as motivations to create your own strategy. 

Look Closely
When you are reviewing your business plan, it's important to be clear on how you will allocate your resources to make your strategy work. The business plan for growth should allocate sufficient resources to achieve it's goals. You should assess your companies efficiency in terms of employees abilities and adaptability, as well as your own. This will help you to realise what you can or cannot do without your current staff, and if you need to hire new staff, or hire your existing staff in with new skills or training. 

Look for Friends
Another good way to plan for business growth, is to collaborate with a business owner that has successfully expanded their business, as you are trying to do. Gaining advice from someone who has been in your position is invaluable. 

Is your business growing? The Women's Organisation would like to offer support and advice to those who's business is growing and accelerating...

Exclerate Labs is part funded by European Regional Development Fund and offers FREE business growth consultancy to businesses registered in Greater Manchester who are operating in a business to business sector and ready to grow.

Excelerate Labs expert Business Growth Advisers can support you with:

• Developing Growth Strategy

• Accessing Markets

• Building Strategic Sales & Marketing Plans

• Developing Effective Leadership

• Gaining Support with Financial Management, Procurement, Bids & Tenders

• Linking to Networks & Developing Strategic Partnerships

• Measuring & Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility

Or building your business in another way.

If you are interested in receiving support contact our team via 

Friday, November 25, 2016

ACE Erasmus Plus Partners Meet In Cyprus For Transnational Learning Experience

Last week project partners for the ‘ACE’ Project met in Nicosia, Cyprus and were hosted by CARDET (Centre for Advancement of Research and Development in an Educational Technology) Training Coordinator; Bernie Cox, Engagement and Marketing Officer; Abi Inglis, Operations Manager; Laura Anderson and Chair of The Women’s Organisation Board; Pat Shea Halson joined the transnational meeting to represent the UK!

Bernie, Pat & Laura in Nicosia!
The purpose of the visit was to review the progress to date on the creation of the 5 training modules which are being developed to support adult educators and enterprise advisers in working with lifestyle entrepreneurship and also carry out pilot runs of the programme with the group of partners taking part in the practical exercises and activities planned.

Bernie delivering her module (Module 1)

The modules covered…
  • The Basics of Lifestyle Entrepreneurship
  • The Use of ICT and Open Educational Resources in Lifestyle Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing of Adult Education on Lifestyle Entrepreneurship for Disadvantaged Learners
  • Assessment Tools of Learners’ Skills and Competencies in Lifestyle Entrepreneurship
  • Creating Awareness on Validation of the Acquired Competences

The partners on the ACE project span across Europe, we were joined by Cyprus, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Poland, all representing various organisations in their home countries and coming together to learn and share knowledge on lifestyle entrepreneurship. This project has been running for over a year with the partners already meeting in both Liverpool and Bulgaria’s capital; Sofia.

ACE Partners taking part in a practical exercise!
Whilst we were in Cyprus we did manage to get a break from working and were treated to a cultural day trip where we visited the pretty marina town of Limassol and also visited one of the oldest and most historic villages on the island; Omodos where we had lunch at a traditional tavern and ate some fantastic Cypriot food! 

We are looking forward to the next international meeting is planned for the spring when the partners will be meeting in Poland to continue working on this project!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Melissa Wavell Made Big Changes In Her Life And Started Her Business – The Dog Haus Ltd.

Every once in awhile we get to help a business that really makes us smile – and Melissa Wavell from Widnes new business; The Dog Haus Ltd. is one of those. 29 year old Melissa describes it as ‘A new breed of day care for the contemporary dog.’

‘At The Dog Haus Ltd. we believe that socialising is very important. Dogs are pack animals by nature and they rarely get to be part of a pack in today’s world. We allow the dogs to play and socialise in a controlled environment which is more natural for them. The contemporary design led crèche has been created so the dogs feel like they are in a home from home.’

But how did Melissa, who had previously been a manager for the luxury fashion brand Jaeger, come to opening up her own doggy day care centre? It’s the simple matter of wanting to follow a dream! Melissa told us that it had always been her dream to work with animals wanting to be a vet when she was younger. She also had some entrepreneurial spirit in her as she spotted a gap in the market for her business idea; ‘I decided to set up my own because I already had a lot of business experience from my previous job and I’d also seen a space in the market for more of a ‘luxury’ doggy day care. A lot of dog day cares that you see now are very basic and I wanted to create a fun environment similar to what you would see at a children’s crèche! Just because they are dogs, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the best!’

Once Melissa was decided she began to write her business plan and looking for a unit to place The Dog Haus Ltd. When she got in touch with Halton Council they put her in touch with The Women’s Organisation and Business Adviser; Mike Marsden. From there Melissa and Mike began to work together, with help from the Skills and Opportunities Fund, to make The Dog Haus Ltd dream into a reality! ‘Mike has been fantastic! I couldn’t have done this without his support and encouragement. He was really enthusiastic with my business idea and believed that I could make a success of it. At times when I have gone off track Mike has brought me back to focus. His knowledge and experience is second to none.’

As with the opening of any new business there is always going to be difficult barriers to overcome and for Melissa that was finding the perfect place for The Dog Haus Ltd. Melissa searched for 6 months to find the perfect unit; ‘I kept getting knocked back by different letting agents and landlords who didn’t want to home The Dog Haus Ltd. in their units. I finally found a fantastic landlord and agent who have supported me and waited another 2 months for the council to agree to my planning permission!’

And throughout all this to-ing and fro-ing with her unit, Melissa was still working a full time job and trying to juggle opening a new business! But now the tough work has been done and The Dog Haus Ltd. is open for business! ‘We’ve just had an Open Day which was really successful. We were inundated with people signing up and coming for a look around. I’m now a few weeks in and we have enquiries every day!’

‘It’s been a massive change for me so right now I’m adjusting to my new job role although I definitely feel like I’ve made the right choice. The best thing about running my own business is that I am my own boss, I know that I can drive the business in any direction I like and I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. Oh! And of course, giving belly rubs to dogs all day long!

If you'd like to find out more about The Dog Haus Ltd. you can use the contact details below! 

And if you would like some support starting your own business, then get in touch with us! Email us on or ring us on 0151 706 8111

Melissa was supported by The Women's Organisation and the Skills and Opportunities Fund. This fund is one of the many ways that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is contributing to the communities they live and work in. In 2015, they committed £2.5m to fund projects in charities, social enterprises, community groups, state-funded schools and colleges across the UK and Ireland, and they have allocated at further £2.5m to be split across two rounds in 2016.

The Dog Haus Ltd.
Unit 5, Ground Floor Unit 6
Palatine Industrial Estate
Causeway Avenue
WA4 6Q

Monday, November 7, 2016

Anne Pennington From Sefton Says Support From The W.O Feels Like ‘Coming Home’

Now, we know that we do our jobs well. Each and every day we are a team of people who one simple mission in mind – To improve the lives of the women that we meet. But as you know, sometimes daily life gets on top of us all and that’s why it’s so amazing to be reminded of why we do the work that we do! Anne Pennington was just the woman for this and we couldn’t be more delighted to have helped her realise her dreams of self-employment!

Anne Pennington has one of those business that we hear about and think; ‘Now that sounds interesting!’ Anne is an award-winning researcher and leader in the use of insights in the public sector; she works with clients from across many different sectors from their first idea through their planning, design and implementation all the way to evaluation. And since launching her business has worked on an incredible variety of different projects including; a campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse, a campaign to improve breastfeeding and even the massively influential campaign This Girl Can.

Prior to setting up her business Anne was a Principal Insight Analyst with Public Health Knowsley for 10 years and before that worked for National Museums Liverpool for 17 years as a Research Officer. She told us; ‘I had always been interested in working for myself but I’d never had the courage to make the leap from employment to self-employment. But when I took redundancy in December 2015 it was the perfect opportunity to have a go on my own. I was ready for a new challenge!’

The promise of a few contracts gave Anne the confidence to dive into self-employment, but not before she did some research to find out what organisations could help her. Going online she found out about The Women’s Organisation through Sefton Council’s website and got her first appointment booked in. Anne then began working with Business Adviser; Jo Mountfort and started the programme of support that we have to offer including courses, one-to-one advice and networking.

‘It was so easy to get involved with the start-up programme and when I visited for my first meeting with Jo, I felt like I was coming home. I then attended the courses and it felt like a great weight of worry was lifted from me because Jo and the rest of the team help to nurture your confidence and skills with their expert advice and encouragement.’

On top of the advice and support that Anne has received through her work with Jo and the courses that she attended, Anne has found that she’s been able to build a strong network of friendships through our Business Club! She told us; ‘It’s been great meeting all the other women and finding out what they are up to, their challenges and how they have overcome them. I love it when I can help them myself of put them in touch with someone I know who may be able to help them. I’ve made some lovely new friends and we meet to discuss how we are getting on and share experiences – both good and bad, so the support really does continue.’

And this added benefit of making great new friendships has really eased what could have been a difficult part of self-employment for Anne. Unlike other new female entrepreneurs that we interact with, it was not the tax or business planning that Anne struggled with; ‘I am well used to report-writing and dealing with organisations such as HMRC so I never really worried about preparing my business plan or dealing with the accounts side of things.’

‘The only aspect I did find particularly difficult to get used to was not going into an office every day and being greeted by lots of smiling faces and also working alone and not having anyone to bounce ideas off. This is where meeting others through The Women’s Organisation has been so beneficial. I can work hard for part of the day whilst looking forward to seeing them for the other part!’

And of course, now Anne is reaping some of the great benefits that being self-employed brings such as flexibility. In particular this has been beneficial as she has a daughter who is just about to take her GCSE’s. ‘She’s been feeling the pressure so it has been great to be around for her which is something I wouldn’t have been able to do so much when I was working.’ Anne told us that she is enjoying the definite finish point for projects and the fact that she gets to meet such a wide variety of people.

The future of Anne’s business is looking bright and she is feeling proud of the work she has done so far – as she should do! ‘I feel amazed that I have come so far and that I did it! I still have some way to go until I feel established, but if I have got this far then it should be no problem!’

If you want to find out more about Anne’s business then you can do so by using the contact details below.

07905 862810

And if you’ve been inspired by Anne’s story and would like some support starting your business, then get in touch with us! Ring us on 0151 706 8111 or email us on

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

70% Of Women Leave The Workforce Due To Inflexible Jobs – Martha Hawkins Decided Not To…

Did you know that up to 70% of women leave the workforce after having children because they find it impossible to combine their careers and their family life? Martha Hawkins, Founder of Green Ginger Social was determined not to be a part of this statistic, and found out that starting her own business and becoming self-employed was the perfect solution. 

Green Ginger Social is a new social media marketing agency that Martha launched in June which helps small and medium sized businesses and charities make their social media work for them by advising, developing strategies or managing.  Prior to setting up her business Martha had worked within the marketing sector for the past 20 years, firstly cutting her teeth in theatres and then progressing to work for publishing houses in London, managing marketing and circulation for book and magazine portfolios. 

‘Then, following an amazing 18 months voluntary work and travelling in South America, I came to Liverpool to pick up my early arts career and was lucky enough to spend the last decade working within the city’s vibrant arts scene,’  Martha explains.

But, like so many women that we interact with here at The Women’s Organisation on a day to day basis; things began to change after Martha had children. Following redundancy, Martha was disheartened to discover just how difficult it is to find marketing roles at a senior level that offered part time or flexible working. ‘Rather than become part of that 70% statistic, I decided to work for myself,’  she explains.

And this is where Digital Mums comes into the mix. What is Digital Mums you ask? Well…It’s pretty much, exactly what it says on the tin! Digital Mums – train mums with in-demand digital skills to help them create stimulating, flexible careers that fit around family life. And that is just what Martha needed. 

‘Although I am a qualified and experienced marketing professional, once I came across Digital Mums, I realised that specialising in social media marketing would offer me a flexible and interesting area of work,’ Martha says.

‘Digital Mums take the natural talents and skills of mums, adds some innovative social media training and produces high calibre social media managers. They then match them to SME’s and charities that need help with their social media.’ 

This was the perfect training for Martha as she was able to take all of her previous knowledge and experience and add even more value with these extra specialist skills. 

Martha was able to learn while running live campaigns with Digital Mums. This gave her the hands on experience of managing social media campaigns as well as teaching her how to work with clients; ‘This was really useful as previously I’d always been the client,’  she says.

As well as the formal training and support she received from Digital Mums, Martha also got in touch with The Women’s Organisation as she discovered that the logistics involved in setting up a business to be daunting at a first glance. She says, ‘It was brilliant to have the support filling in the gaps in my knowledge.’ 

And as her business was gearing up to launch, Martha continued to work with Business Adviser, Francine Taylor to ensure that everything about Green Ginger Social would run smoothly once it was off the ground. 

‘Francine was a great help firming up my business plan. She asked some insightful questions and gave me some fantastic suggestions which really helped to clarify my thoughts. I’ve also attended several training courses at The Women’s Organisation and have joined Business Club and attended my first networking event. As I now work from home, I’m really appreciating the opportunity to get out and meet new people.’ 

Now Green Ginger Social is alive and kicking, it’s safe to say that Martha has achieved what so many women would love; ‘The holy grail of work/life balance,” says Martha.  ‘It has allowed me to continue to work in a fulfilling career but the hours are flexible enough that I can still spend time with my children and pursue other interests.’ 

Since setting up Green Ginger Social, Martha has already advised several organisations on the best strategy for the businesses and has been advising Social Business Trust, an organisation based in London. Her clients now stretch across Europe from London to Devon to Madrid. ‘I am really proud of what I have achieved so far. Although I have worked in some amazing organisations in my career, working for myself has brought a new set of challenges and an even better set of rewards.’

If you would like to find out more information about Green Ginger Social and the type of services that Martha can offer to a business’s social media – then head over to the website or use the contact details below.
Twitter: @MainlyMartha
Phone Number: 07828704168

And if you’ve been inspired by Martha’s story and would like support and advice starting your own business, get in touch with us! Contact The Women’s Organisation on or ring us on 0151 706 8111