“A Lancaster club which boosts employment and business skills for women has been awarded £260,000 by the National Lottery.
Social enterprise The Growing Club, which has been providing employment skills training, business start-up and sustainable business growth programmes for women since 2016, will use The National Lottery Community Fund cash award to support their work over the next five years.
“To be chosen for this funding in these very difficult times is just amazing,” said Jane Binnion, MD and Co-Founder of The Growing Club.”
We are thrilled to announce that The Growing Club has been awarded funding from Rosa’s Voices From the Frontline to launch a research campaign focused on neurodivergent women. Our aim is to examine the impact of late diagnosis on neurodivergent women, and the barriers they face in education and employment.
On March 14th, out of the blue, we got a phone call from Clare Fallon of Channel 4 news. She had seen our film about women aged 50+ and asked if they could come and talk to a group of our women – the next day!
If you saw our Christmas newsletter you will have read this..
And finally, a heads up that 2023 will be the year we put lots of attention on numbers; from energy saving and understanding your bills, budgeting and getting out of debt. And to properly working out what to charge for your product / service. Because, to quote a quote that Cleona Lira sent me:
“English is important, but maths is importanter”
And so this post is to tell you what we are offering, who for – and why.
Last January we ran a retreat all about women and money. The experience of how empowering that was, combined with seeing the interesting responses to the finances curriculum on both our start-up and growth programmes, we have come to realise that there is some fundamental work that needs doing around numeracy for women.
Understanding that whilst we all deal with maths every day, but if we believe that maths is scary, we are disempowered from fully participating in life, in the summer we trialled a series of 4 Learning Lunches called Women and Numbers. The aim was a simple exploration of the blocks that come up for women when it comes to numeracy, with Ebony Rebecca, of Rose Tinted Financial, very gently enabling us to face those.
We have now been awarded some DfE funding called Multiply, to enable us to deliver an exciting range of fully funded support for women in Lancashire who haven’t reached GCSE level C, and / or want to build their confidence around all things numbers.
On February 10th, we have an excellent workshop called Know Your Price, for all you women running businesses who struggle to work out what to charge. Full details and booking here
One-to-One support. In addition to the courses and workshops, there is also funded one-to-one support available. Either with Ebony, to address budgeting and debt, or with Viv Davenport for maths support to prepare you for your GCSE if you choose to go that route, and for applied maths for day-to-day life, such as understanding special offers when shopping, what size pizza to order, and your household bills.
And even better – everyone who participates in the Multiply programme will be entered into a prize draw to win one of these fabulous T-shirts from Ducon.
In addition to all that, we have the Winter Survival programme to help you reduce your energy bills. You can find out all about that here.
If you want help with anything around numeracy, please do get in touch with us via email to Rebecca@thegrowingclub.co.uk or call 01524 383846.
The Growing Club CIC designs and delivers employment and enterprise training and support for women
As you may have seen, on the 30th of November we held our 2nd Angels’ Den event, an evening that gave some of our start-ups the opportunity to pitch to members of the local business community, for skills support that will help them on their journey.
The evening, hosted by the Health Innovation Centre, was a huge success which beautifully showcased the innovation and entrepreneurship that we see from women in our district. What’s more, the evening also exemplified the real sense of community and mutual support that we hold in such high regard here at The Growing Club.
Glyn Jones, who is the Partnership Development manager at the Health Innovation Campus, as well as one of our Angels, said:
“[Angels’ Den was] an inspiring celebration of the entrepreneurs (as previous ones have been). I also found it to be very “real” as in, no theories or officiousness, instead people building something positive and beneficial by virtue their own efforts and diligence with pragmatic support from The Growing Club community.”
We appreciate this feedback – the personal nature of The Growing Club is something we are incredibly proud of, and it is encouraging to hear that our approach of “it takes a village…” came across with the event.
Not only did our Angels value the event, but our pitchers did also.
Jenifer Ryder, of Model Club, said that whilst it was challenging, it was good for her – that the process has helped her to find the words to relate her business to an audience and that the help she was offered has already begun to propel her and her business forward.
Karen Belton from Two Tiny Makes said that the whole experience was extremely rewarding, and went on to say “I really do think that it is wonderful that local businesses want to reach out as Angels and support new businesses. I can’t wait to meet up with my Angel in the New Year as I think it’s going to be a good jumping springboard to make my 2023 a success!” – once again highlighting the value of community-based support for businesses, which we try to foster through our work, both specifically through Angels’ Den and through our work in general.
Jane Twyman of Hedgepigs found the experience of pitching to be very affirming for her business, and alongside winning the “outstanding support” from our Angels, she also gained new contacts and customers!
We at the Growing Club also agree that it was an amazing evening, and we want to extend a huge thank you once again to everyone involved – our Angels, our pitchers, and to everyone who came to support on the evening too. Special thanks to Joanne Barlow of Access to Finance Lancashire for coaching and training our pitchers, Kelly Ann Sharp from Voice Work for providing vocal coaching beforehand and supporting on the night itself, and to Costal and Co for providing a low-carbon supper.
We look forward to holding more events like this in the future – with the success we have seen with this second event, we plan to host these every 18-months or so in the future, so keep your eyes peeled for the next opportunity!
If you would like to discuss how The Growing Club can help you, please contact us on 01524 383846
At The Growing Club we have always worked holistically with women, whether that’s women wondering “What Next?”, or starting, or growing their business, because we know how much women juggle in their life and how much they are impacted by external conditions. And I don’t need to tell you that we have gone from pandemic to winter crisis without an opportunity to catch our breath.
It was identified that during the pandemic women were hit the hardest, and we are seeing the same again. That means we all have to look out for each other right now. With the combined effects of a rising cost of heating a home, flus, COVID-19, we want to provide programmes for our women which will help to protect you this winter.
And that’s why it may look like we gone off piste with our new projects, but we know it’s all part of the support women need. And so, we are very pleased to share that, this winter, we have funding for 2 additional programmes this winter, to keep you warm, healthy and connected, and to make sure you have all the skills to understand your bills and make informed choices this winter.
Firstly, Winter Survival Programme
1. Extended Drop-in Service
Georgina Sommerville from Green Rose CIC will be at Thursday drop-in each week to discuss your own personal situation and what support you can get to reduce your household bills.
And she won’t just tell you and send you on your way.
Anyone on benefits or with a household income of £31k or under is eligible for a home visit. She is able to offer so much, so please come down and find out what you’re really eligible for.
So, if you’re struggling with high bills, a cold home, energy debt, or you’re looking to find out how to drop bills and increase comfort with simple measures, join us during our drop in service at our offices in White Cross on Thursdays. The kettle will be on, and Georgina will be able to talk through some advice and guidance to keeping warm and healthy this winter.
2. Practical makers workshops
Gabriella from The Artisan Bazaar will be coordinating makers workshops as well. These will be a warm, sociable, and practical space to learn how to simple bits which will help you to keep your home warmer and cut electrical costs out of second-hand items; draught excluders and nonelectric cook bags. We will be alternating week on week, one week doing draught excluders (a simple, but super effective tool for keeping a room warm), and the next week doing cook bags to reduce cooking expenses. These are bags which you can place a boiled pan into, and leave for a couple of hours. It will continue cooking to perfection.
And all of the equipment will be provided for you, along with hot drinks, snacks and soups!
That these will mostly be in our training room in Lancaster. Please note we can pay your bus fare, as we know it can be super expensive, especially traveling in from rural areas.
Secondly, Women and Numbers
Alongside all that we are running a comprehensive Women and Numbers programme, primarily aimed at women in Lancashire who haven’t got GCSE grade C level 4. But if any of you are struggling with any numeracy issues, including understanding your bills, please do join us. Between now and the end of February we are running 2, 4-session courses (via zoom), one-to-one support and a pricing workshop to help you work out properly what you need to be charging for your products and services – a big issue for many women in business.
This will be run by Ebony Rebecca, from RoseTintedFinancial Services. We ran a Women and Numbers workshop in the past, it was very positive so we are delighted to be running it again, and taking it further. So, watch out for that in January.
In addition, we are providinga warm working space.
You can come to our training room Mondays and Fridays for free. Our only ask is that you ring up to check that there is space. It’ll be a warm space for you to go and to get on with your admin, and save on your own energy bills. We have to pay ours anyway, so you may as well benefit from it too. If you need any help over the winter, or if there’s anything more we can do please email us. Megan, in our office, will be coordinating this project so drop her a line if you have any questions about this initiative!
So, Angels’ Den is finally back! The event you’ve been waiting for, and the event we are so excited to put on again.
The premise of the event is much like the popular show Dragons’ Den, budding entrepreneurs have a few minutes to pitch their start-up ideas to a panel of businesspeople. The twist here is everyone will be a winner. On the night, entrepreneurs from The Growing Club’s start-up programme, Roots and Shoots, will have a few minutes to pitch their start-up ideas to our panel of business “Angels”.
After all the pitchers have gone, the angels will discuss between them who can best support each woman. Everyone will be coming away with something, and it’s a great opportunity for businesses in the local area to support entrepreneurs, as what could be a small thing for one business could make all the difference to a start-up.
On the evening there will be fine company, an opportunity for networking, along with a buffet and some mulled wine, juice or hot drinks.
In the next few weeks, we will be announcing our angels. We have some familiar faces, welcoming back the support of the Chamber of Commerce, and some new faces as well. The offers from Angels are ranging from website design, accountancy, to business development and marketing strategies. So, make sure you keep your eyes on our social media accounts for these announcements, where you can follow these angels and see what there is on offer.
This event really encapsulates what we value here at The Growing Club, community, and mutual support. Mandy Blackwell, who organised the last Angels’ Den event back in 2018, said it was so special to her to have been involved in the organisation of the last event, and to be a part of an entrepreneur’s journey of starting out with an idea and seeing that idea come to life. For her now, it’s great to see years later that there are women who pitched and have businesses which are still trading.
It’s an amazing opportunity to get that confidence boost which allows an entrepreneur to go self-employed. Wendy Jones was pitched at our last Angels Den event and said that having the support from her Angel gave her that confidence to take that step and go fully self-employed. Also, having only 3 minutes made her home in on what it was she wanted.
So, this is why you should come along to this event. The evening will be celebrating mutual support and be a great night of showcasing the amazing entrepreneurship and creativity which is here in Lancaster. It’ll be a special opportunity to be a part of a woman’s step towards realising her entrepreneurial dreams.
We recently had a new report commissioned, to identify the changing needs of women in the district during Covid 19 pandemic. The findings suggested that women now have a greater need for social connection than previously, along with increased concerns about wellbeing and finances.
If you have received support from The Growing Club CIC in the past, or maybe you just like what we do, we need your help so we can help other women to succeed through our Auction of Promises.
You may know that the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) ended in December, meaning people on benefits no longer receive financial or practical support from the Department of Work and Pensions to start a small business. That means many women who would have liked to use their skills and experience to become self-employed, now face a further hurdle, and if we don’t address this, starting a business will now only be an option for those with capital.
On May 20th, we are holding an Auction of Promises to build a seed fund to support women in hardship with their basic business start-up costs.
So where do you come in?
There are 4 things you can do to help us…
1. Offer a promise that people can bid for. That can be anything from offering your professional services, homemade baked goods or even a night away. Some promises we’ve already received include:
On the 20th May 2022, The Growing Club CIC are organising a fundraising event – an Auction of Promises – where donated promises are auctioned off, with money raised to create a Seed Fund to support women’s business start-up costs.
07892 712417 or 01524 383846
The Women and Enterprise Hub, 7-4-3 Cameron House, White Cross Business Park, Lancaster, LA1 4XQ
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