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