Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Civil Society Involvement launches to improve third sector access to European funds

Civil Society Involvement (CSI) will work to help third sector organisations access European Funding ahead of Brexit and to shape future legacy funds.

Led by The Women's Organisation, the new programme has launched to help voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations across England access European funding for the remaining 2014-2020 programme. The project will also work to influence the shape of future legacy funds post-Brexit, including the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

CSI will work with the third sector to understand the issues within the current European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) programme, which are preventing organisations from accessing the funds.

These findings will be communicated through skilled representation on the national Growth Programme Board and its nine national sub-committees, meaning that the voice of the sector will be heard at a national level.

The dedicated team of CSI representatives include the Vice Chair of the Social Audit Network, Anne Lythgoe, the CEO of The Women’s Organisation, Maggie O’Carroll, and Deputy CEO of the Workers’ Educational Association, Joanna Cain. Representation will also come from Citizens Advice Halton, The National Trust, as well as Network for Europe and VONNE.

A new website launched this month which will act as a vital resource for those wanting to find out more about accessing funding and will also enable colleagues to contact the relevant representatives on the Growth Programme Board.

The CSI team are calling for third sector support organisations to share the resource with colleagues from across the sector. Those wanting to be kept up-to-date with current funding calls and industry news are also been encouraged to sign up to the CSI newsletter.

Helen Millne, Deputy CEO of
The Women's Organisation
Helen Millne, Deputy CEO of The Women’s Organisation, the lead partner of the CSI project, says: “Navigating European funding can be a very complicated and time-consuming process, which can turn many organisations off from the possibilities. We want to make sure that those working in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector are able to access European funds and make it work for their projects.

“There is still plenty of opportunity to access this pot of European money before the programme comes to an end in 2020. We would encourage anyone working within the third sector to engage with the CSI project, either by sharing your experiences with us to help shape future funds post Brexit, or by signing up to our newsletter to be kept in the loop about the remaining programme”.

The CSI project is receiving funding from the European Social Fund, as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England, and will run until December 2020

The project is led by Liverpool-based charity, The Women’s Organisation, with the Workers Educational Association (WEA) and Citizens’ Advice Halton working as project partners.

If you would like to find out more about how Civil Society Involvement can help you, please contact info@civilscoietyinvolvement.com. To receive updates from the project and latest news on European Funding, you can join our mailing list via www.civilsocietyinvolvement.com.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Julie Ann Gillespie Joins The Women’s Organisation Board

We are delighted to announce that Julie Ann Gillespie, Relationships Director at HSBC Commercial Banking, has joined our board.

Julie has over 20 years’ experience in various banking roles working at Lloyds, Halifax and HSBC. She was also Chair of Trustees for a North Wales-based charity, Domestic Abuse Safety Unit (DASU), supporting survivors of domestic abuse.

Julie is incredibly passionate about empowering women and we're delighted that she's joined our team.

We sat down with Julie to find out more on why she wanted to be part of The Women’s Organisation and her plans moving forward. Take a read ..

What made you want to join The Women’s Organisation’s board?

You could say, in short, it’s a topic I am passionate about.  My Mum was a strong female role model, juggling work, an education and young children.  I remember sitting at the back of one of her lectures in the early eighties at a very young age!

Being one of 4 daughters provides insight into the many challenges women overcome at different stages of their lives. I’ve observed how education, access to support and a helping hand when things aren’t going so well can be vital ‘enablers’ to empower women, to make positive changes to their lives and where relevant, the lives of their children.

Having worked as a Trustee in the domestic abuse sector for many years, I’m proud to have recently joined The Women’s Organisation and I’m sure my previous experience in the third sector and during my 20 years in banking/the private sector can be put to use to help push forward our agenda.

How do our values around women’s economic empowerment align with your own?

Completely - the role that Maggie and her team play in driving hard the agenda to improve the economic position of women and people from deprived communities is critical to the wider economic success of the Liverpool City region.

They do a fantastic job of voicing what would otherwise be left unheard due to the absence of diversity in many public and private sector organisations. The business case evidences the value inclusion and diversity brings, so for an economy thrive, we must make opportunities accessible for all. This means minimising the barriers that slow down such progress.  Regardless of the economic benefits, it is the right thing to do.

From your skills and experience, what will you bring to the organisation?

I have 20 years experience working in large private organisations, across all manner of roles and functions. I’ve worked (unpaid) in the not for profit sector and I’m an avid reader. Having graduated with a first class honours degree in business only 6 years ago I consider this knowledge fairly fresh and would class strategy and people a particular strength.  Being a mum, sister, friend, daughter and also having worked in a heavily male dominated environments, I’m reasonably informed and use personal experience to add insight, add value and of course, opinion.

What are you most excited about?

The last 24 months has been very eventful; the press regarding equal pay, #metoo movement, exposures on unacceptable practices. I am therefore most excited about what’s yet to unfold and being part of the change I want to see.  As Maya Angelou would have said, ‘all great achievements take time!’

Andrea's Story: "It was very exciting discovering the change in myself step by step"

When Andrea was recommended 'Change it: Progress to Success' by The Women's Organisation's Engagement Team member Sabah, her first thought was 'How does she know that I really need it?' After moving to Liverpool and losing her way, she decided to give it a try. 

"I have been in Liverpool for five years and somehow became completely lost. My partner got a job here, his dream job, and it was time to follow his aspirations (the previous ten years were about my passions). However, as a Hungarian journalist I didn’t know what was next for me. I still kept writing articles about my experiences, great and amusing British traditions and other cultural topics in my mother tongue, although the time and distance worked against me. My previous network was thinning out and I couldn’t find my new place.

This course promised a lot, identification of the positive achievements in my life and setting achievable targets on my action plan for example. I wondered how they would be able to do so, because my clouds lost their silver lining completely…

It started with a kind of magic. I never knew how difficult it could be to find positive adjectives (relating to myself) with the letters of my name. Or at all, at that time. Finally, I found six words which felt mine, and a journey started on which the brilliant and understanding Victoria guided us. We learnt a great deal about ourselves and more crucially about each other, that we are not alone with our struggles. We came to comprehend the importance of change, and more importantly how to appreciate it, and studied assertiveness, what is a very useful skill in an impatient and (passive) aggressive world.

It was very exciting discovering the change in myself step by step, to see the world through a different filter. Somehow everything got a warmer shade, just like when the sun suddenly shines through the clouds. However, the biggest surprise came after the third week, when I got my first ever English blog entry published. Honestly, it is a big deal for me, who thought that I just had to let my ‘writing thingy’ go…

Without the Change It program I would never have the courage to offer my writing skills in English, but by now I have learnt my favourite lesson: there is no such a thing like fail, it is only an abbreviation for First Attempt In Learning. Valuable message for a perfectionist. And the best part, they asked me for some more articles.

I have to thank Victoria Hart, Sabah Shams and Cynthia Bosafola (my business advisor), who introduced me and led me on my journey. I still have a lot to do, but now I am less afraid than how excited I am. All in all, I recommend this course for anyone and everyone who ever felt being under a bad spell or simply curious about themselves. Have I mentioned that it is fun too?"

Thanks very much to Andrea for sharing her story, we wish you all the best for the future

We have new dates available for Change it!

54 St James Street - Monday 14th January 2018, 10-3 (4 Sessions)

Wavertree Childrens's Centre - Tuesday 15th January 2018, 12:30-15:30 (5 Sessions)

Kensington Childrens Centre - Wednesday 16th January, 1-3 (8 Sessions with half term break in February)

Speke Childrens Centre - Thursday 17th January 2018, 9:15-12:15 (5 Sessions)

Belle Vale Childrens Centre - Thursday 24th January, 1-3 (8 Sessions)

If you’d like to find out more information about the programme or book a place, contact us on 0151 706 8111 or hello@thewo.org.uk and find out how we can support you.