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Young Women Branching Out

Our latest course, Branching Out, will help unwaged young women to explore skills and training options available to them. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted young women particularly hard, resulting in reduced employment and future job opportunities.

Young Women Hit Hardest in COVID-19 Pandemic

Young Women’s Trust and Women’s Budget Group published a policy briefing in November 2020. They talked about how, even prior the Coronavirus pandemic, young women faced employment disadvantages, discrimination and sexual harassment. The pandemic dented young women’s employment the hardest, with a third of all young women holding employment in sectors like hospitality, leisure and tourism. Such sectors have effectively been shut down in the wake of COVID-19.

This has led to an ongoing mental health crisis, financial hardship and a bleak outlook for the recovery of vulnerable groups in society like young women. In October 2020, an estimated 1.5 million young women suffered a reduction on income since the the pandemic began. Because of this, approximately 750,000 young women having been made to go to work, despite concerns about health and safety.

Branching Out

Starting on May 6 2021, The Growing Club CIC is running an 18-hour, fully-funded course for unwaged young women aged 19-24. Branching Out is a course funded by the Frances C Scott Charitable Trust. The course will run in Lancaster and will help young women to: build on their skills, explore opportunities available to them, develop confidence and communication skills, employment and self-employment skills, network building, how to prepare a CV and develop job application and interview skills.

Attendees will be allocated a mentor to help them for 12 months, to stay supported and on-track.

Our director, Jane Binnion, said: 

“The pandemic has led us to move work with young women higher up our list of priorities, as they have been so severely impacted – emotionally and financially – with many seeing their future as quite bleak. I have a young daughter myself and have witnessed first-hand the struggles to find work, pay rent and stay buoyant. We are so pleased to have received this funding which enables us to support local young women.”

To book a place on Branching Out, visit Eventbrite or for more details, please contact jane@thegrowingclub.co.uk

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Women & Money: Exploring Savings & Investments for Beginners

We have an excellent event coming up this month, led by money experts Cleona Lira and Rebecca O’Connor. They’ll be talking about financial investments that aren’t just for the rich.

Worries about money and financial independence affect most women. And with the change of the pension age many women are now also worried about how they will manage financially as they get older.

When many of us think of investments we think of stocks and shares and it can feel confusing and nothing to do with us. But making good decisions about our money is important, whatever our income.

Workshop aims

This workshop is suited to a beginner level, for those with a smaller investment potential and curious. You can start investing with as little as £50 per month in an investment, or £25 per month in a pension. The information will be more suited to a UK audience however general principles of investing will also be covered.

The session will be interactive and fun, with small breakout groups and invitations to post questions.

By the end of the session, you will leave feeling confident about getting started with investing and taking some action.

The session will to cover:

· Why invest?

· Common investor self-sabotaging behaviours

· What are wrappers? ISAs v/s pensions

· What are shares and bonds?

. Sustainable Investment

· How can I get started? What are the differences between active/passive/ethical/impact investment funds?

Q&A section – ask anything about investing. We will aim to answer as many questions as possible, but we request please that you write a concise, clear question that you can post in the chat when asked. If your question is difficult to understand, it may not get picked up to be answered.

Disclaimer: It will not be possible to provide any kind of personalised, individual advice in this workshop. The information provided is for informational purposes only and cannot be considered as financial advice. We have 50 tickets available and registrations will close by 5 pm on the 18th of April. Please book as soon as possible to ensure your place.

Ticket prices

We have some funding for this event, however, it does not cover all our costs. We need financial support which enables us to help more women.

So, if you are able to live comfortably, then please consider investing in yourself and in other women by choosing the higher ticket price. Tickets are £30 and £50.

Book your ticket here.

As always, we have some free places for women in hardship – contact lisa@thegrowingclub.co.uk to book a free place.

Income from this event will go towards supporting the work of The Growing Club. The Growing Club CIC is a not-for-profit organisation. We provide a range of skills training and opportunities for women, using a creative and alternative peer-support model.

Cleona Lira

Cleona is an Independent Financial Adviser, based in London and has been working to help people with their financial goals since 2001.

Her educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Business Administration. Cleona is a Chartered Financial Planner and a member of the Chartered Insurance Institute. She is also a sustainable investing specialist.

Becky O’Connor

Becky is Head of Pensions & Savings at interactive investor, the DIY investment platform, and co-founder of Good With Money, the ethical personal finance website. She spent eight years as a journalist at The Times covering personal finance and business and three years as communications director of a renewable energy crowdfunding platform.

Becky is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in recognition of her work in raising the profile of ethical personal finance and a trustee of UK Mortgage Prisoners, the charity campaigning on behalf of mortgage prisoners.

Asking

How Do You Ask For What You Want?

The Growing Club’s Wellbeing Officer, Sarah Ludford, talks about when, why and how you can ask for what you want. We’re also running a workshop, led by Sarah, on this topic. Information and booking is at the end of this article.
Sarah Ludford
Helping Others to Help Ourselves

Some of us are so used to coping and looking after other people that we don’t even know what we need and that makes it tricky to ask. And of course if we are stressed or overwhelmed our requests for support can come out all wrong. We also have a culture of independence that tells us the story that we should be able to manage everything ourselves. 

When I was just exploring asking, a friend and I did an experiment. As we were walking in the countryside we asked everyone we met if they knew if there was an ice cream van at the car park we were heading for. Every single person we asked engaged in conversation and tried to help us. They apologised for not knowing, or they told us where we definitely could get an ice cream.

Human beings love to help each other and when our requests are clear it makes it easy for people to say yes. In fact, I see asking as giving others an opportunity to meet their needs for contribution.

Asking Makes The World Go Around

Asking for the specific thing we need can bring clarity and opportunity. Asking makes things happen – small things and huge things. When I began to ask with clarity and started to hear yes, I got braver, and it is astonishing what people will give, how much human beings will help each other when given the opportunity. This can help us to manage on a day to day basis and can also help us bring change and dreams into reality.

It models for others the potential of asking and can help empower them to ask.

Workshop

The Growing Club CIC is running a workshop on When, Why and How to Ask For What You Want, facilitated by Sarah Ludford. It’s on Wednesday 7 April 2021, 18:30 – 21:00hrs, with a small charge of £5 per attendee. You can find a link here to book online. Please contact Sarah for further information or questions – sarah@thegrowingclub.co.uk.

Mentor training

Mentor Training Course for Women Business Owners

The Growing Club CIC is training a second group of mentors to support our start-up group. Mentoring plays an important role in supporting women in business and is recommended as a strategy for supporting recovery and long-term sustainability.

This is a comprehensive training course that will strengthen your leaderships skills, support your CPD and enable you to apply for paid mentoring opportunities.

This is a three-session course, running on Thursday 22nd April, 29th April and 6th May 2021. Sessions will run from 09.30 – 12.30 via Zoom or in Lancaster. You are required to attend all sessions.

Is it for me?

This funded opportunity is for you if you:

  • are a woman running a small business in the Lancaster District
  • have been trading for at least three years
  • can remember how hard the first few years in business can be!
  • want to support a woman starting her own small business 
  • can commit to a face-to-face session an hour a month for three years
  • understand the importance of mentoring as a tool of empowerment

Claire, a previous attendee and Growing Club Mentor, said:

“I found the training really insightful, from active listening skills to techniques of questioning and reflection to help empower fellow women in business to achieve their knowledge and goals. I’ve since gone on to train in coaching, with the mentoring training directly contributing towards my skills and capabilities.

“I love the fact that The Growing Club has such a strong ethic of women-supporting-women, and I’m happy to support a woman in business through her own personal journey.”

Application

The training is free if you commit to working with your mentee for three years. If we have spaces available, we are able to open up this training to others at a cost of £750.

Training will be delivered by Paul Aisthorpe and Nicola Combe. For more information, please email jane@thegrowingclub.co.uk or call 07521 314926. You can download the application form here and return to Jane.

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Sow and Grow…The Sowing Club Course Returns

In collaboration with the European Social Fund and Adult Learning Within Reach, we are pleased to be able to offer places at The Sowing Club – a fully-funded six-week skills training course for women in Lancashire. The course starts on the 12 January 2021 in Morecambe and will run for six Tuesdays.

The Sowing Club is aimed at benefitting women who fit into any of the following categories and are looking for a job, further education or self-employment:

  • in low-paid work
  • facing redundancy
  • in receipt of benefits
  • suffer long-term ill-health
  • a lone parent
  • a carer
  • leaving a domestic violence situation

We run bespoke training sessions in a small and supportive peer group setting. This course covers:

  • confidence building
  • how to maximise your existing skills
  • benefiting from support systems
  • problem-solving
  • how to plan for future opportunities

Here’s some quotes from previous attendees of The Sowing Club:

“A fun filled course that challenges you to think about yourself and focus on what you want to do. A great group of women. Sharing ideas and supporting one another. It has given me the boost I needed to sow my seeds and focus on my branches growing.”

“Life-affirming, exciting, encouraging, challenging personally and the best bit of training and focusing I’ve ever had – and I’ve done a lot of training!”

“Empowering, liberating, informative, friendly – the best decision you will make!”

“This has been an amazing course, I’ve loved it. I didn’t know how to use my ideas. Last week was the start of something for me. I have started business planning! Now I feel really motivated. This course has helped me feel confident, and I’ve discovered I can do anything I want/decide to do. This course is a big opportunity for any woman who needs to discover herself.”

When?

From Tuesday 12th January, running for six Tuesdays.

Where?

Morecambe area – to be confirmed.

Time?

10.00hrs-12.30hrs

COVID-secure

We are constantly monitoring the government COVID-19 guidelines and the safety of course participants and trainers takes priority at all time. Therefore, if the guidelines change, we may delay the start of this course and we will consult with you prior to any decisions on this.

Registration

You can find the link to register for the upcoming course here.

Any other questions?

Contact Jane or Lisa at The Growing Club. Call 01524 383846, text 07892 712417 or email admin@thegrowingclub.co.uk for more information.

Heart of Gold - Zahra Moreea

November at The Growing Club: What’s On?

As the autumn creeps in with its beautiful colours and cooler temperatures, we are now in the second lockdown in the UK, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

However, our work at The Growing Club continues, albeit mostly virtually! You can find all of the workshops and courses that are on offer during November in our quick and handy round-up below.

4th, 11th, 18th & 25th November – The Sowing Club new cohort starts (and runs into December). This is a fully-funded, six-week skills training course for women who are unwaged or deemed to be socially disadvantaged. Read more about the course here.

9th November – Bloom and Grow – the second session of our 12-month business growth and sustainability programme. Find out more about this course, specifically designed for women already running their own business, at this link.

16th & 23th November – The Gratitude Gallery (with dates running into December) with photographer, Ginny Koppenhol. Ginny will facilitate a month-long phone photography gratitude practice, designed as a mood-boosting creative group activity, during these challenging times. 

The course will be weekly online workshops spread over four weeks, where you’ll learn phone photography and editing skills and use these to notice and record the aspects of your daily life that you feel grateful for. 

At the end of the course, Ginny will also create an online gallery of your images to share more widely representing your moments of appreciation, experienced and captured.  There are 10 spaces available 
Sessions are as follows (participants are asked to commit to all four): 1-2.30pm via Zoom. Click this link for more information and booking details.

20th November – Lancashire Women’s Peer Network begins. A funded programme from November to February is designed to provide a safe learning environment with trained facilitators. Women entrepreneurs and senior managers will be able to share the difficult issues their businesses are facing in the current COVID-19 pandemic. Find more information here.

26th November – Federation of Small Businesses, Mindful Management, with Dr Hazel Hardie. This session on Mindful Management will cover the 5 stages of mindful management. You will discover how to support the wellbeing of the people you work with, as well as creating an effective mindfulness practice for yourself. You will also learn about how to use mindfulness to improve your communication and relationships with others. Spaces are limited – to book online, click here.

30th November – Public Speaking Workshop: Find Your Voice, with theatre practitioner and facilitator, Emma Rucastle. The workshop will tackle the public speaking, which can be a worry for many small business owners, especially women, who have to present themselves and their businesses at a range of events – both formal and informal. In this interactive workshop, Emma will guide participants through a range of fun practical exercises, focusing on building confidence and finding your own voice. 10.00 – 12.30pm. Tickets are £10 and you can book online here.

Looking forward to December, there is a workshop is on creating and running effective Facebook adverts.  Love it or hate it, people are using Facebook during this pandemic, because it is convenient for many businesses. If you have products or services to sell you might want to join in. Sarah Tinsley from Tech and Toast is recording a tutorial for you to view and keep. This will be available in the last week of November, with a live Q&A via Zoom on December 2nd. For more information and to book this workshop, please click here.

If you have any questions on any of the above courses or workshops, please drop Jane a message

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Lancashire Women’s Peer Network

The Growing Club CIC is delighted to be part of the government initiative, Peer Networks, which brings together a diverse group of business owners and senior leaders as a group in a safe space, to discuss business challenges and how they can be overcome.

The initiative will be delivered through group sessions that are action-led and reflective, using peer feedback to create practical solutions for business blocks.

Build Back Better

Our expert facilitators, Jane Binnion and Lorraine Birch, will create the safe and supportive network needed to help build and strengthen your business. From finance and HR, crisis management, to sales and marketing challenges, the peer network will be a supportive arm to help you improve the overall performance of your business.

Why a Women’s Cohort? 

Even in the best of times, we know that women leaders of SMEs and not-for-profit organisations carry a large workload and worry on their own. It is clearly stated that women entrepreneurs have been heavily economically disadvantaged by the COVID19 pandemic. Female-led businesses, often in sectors vulnerable to economic shocks, have experienced a higher rate of closure during the lockdown, and many more are struggling with the unprecedented situation. 

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have allocated funding for a Peer Networks Programme to support organisations through this difficult time. Knowing the specific challenges faced by women in business, The Growing Club, via Boost Lancashire, has secured a portion of this funding to run a cohort specifically for women in Lancashire. 

So what are Peer Networks? 

It is a known fact that accountability to our peers is a powerful motivator. 

The aim of this funded programme is to provide a safe learning environment with trained facilitators, where local women entrepreneurs and senior managers can share the difficult issues their businesses are facing in the current pandemic. 

Using action-learning methodology, any issues can be discussed within a supportive group framework, with the intention to create change.

Subject-specific trainers will also be available to offer assistance with any areas needed, such as finance, marketing, HR and recruitment. 

Course participants will receive: 

  • A total of 18 hours of action-learning group work, through 2.5 hour Zoom sessions each fortnight (with a break for Christmas). 
  • Two sessions of two hours, of one to one coaching. 

There are ten places available (only one place can be allocated per organisation)

The cohort starts on Friday 20th November 2020

Dates and Times

Sessions will run on a Friday morning, from 10am – 12.30pm

November 20th

December 4th

December 18th

January 8th

January 22nd

February 5th

February 19th (We are hopeful that this final group session might be a socially-distanced, face-to-face celebration)

Is this programme for you? 

Eligibility

– Women applying for the course will be the owner of a business, or a senior decision-maker within an organisation. 
– The business (including not-for-profit organisations) must be Lancashire-based.
– The organisation must have been operating for at least one year. 
– The business must be small to medium-sized (SME) with between 5 & 249 employers (associates count as employees for creative industries ).
– Business turnover must be £100,000+, pre-COVID19. 
– Participants will be women who value peer-support, collaboration and are open to learning.

How to apply

Fill in your details via this Eventbrite link here and we will send you an application form.

Once the completed application form has been submitted, the applicant will receive a telephone call to confirm eligibility and take some details. 

Participants will complete a detailed survey at the start, mid-point and end each the course, and also, at the end of each session, to enable quality monitoring and to capture the impact that the programme has upon the participating businesses. All information given will remain confidential and in accordance with GDPR. 

Women who accept a place on the course are expected to commit to the full length of the programme.

The Facilitators

Jane Binnion is a qualified and experienced adult trainer and group work facilitator. She is the owner of Ethical Business Training, author of The Heart of Sales and founder and MD of The Growing Club CIC, an employment and enterprise training organisation for women.

Lorraine Birch has been a business owner since 1996 and says she has: “latterly matured to become an experiential mentor/trainer, with an unending desire to see women in leadership roles build resilience, create long-term success by investing in themselves and identifying and confirming their inner skills.”

Any questions? Please email Jane@thegrowingclub.co.uk

To find out more about the Peer Networks initiative, click here.

To find out more about The Growing Club please visit our website here

Women in business

Support for Women-in-Business – in Lancaster, Lancashire & Beyond

Something for every woman-in-business in Lancaster, Lancashire and beyond. Affordable and funded support for you, and your business 

We know this is the hardest of times and so many of us are weary, but if you have started to turn your attention towards your business or employment possibilities again, then we have a huge selection of courses and opportunities coming up this term for you. And while we don’t normally blog about what’s on, we feel that right now, it would be really helpful to bring it all together in one place for a nice, easy read.

So here goes, in date order…

October

We have very carefully started face-to-face delivery again this week, as we ran the first session of the new cohort of our start-up programme. It was equally odd and wonderful to meet together after seven long months of delivering courses via Zoom. 

Growth & Sustainability

While we adapted our work and course to online delivery via Zoom, we saw that women joined us from all over the UK and beyond, so we are still offering online courses. In fact, we are very excited to be offering our popular growth and sustainability programme as an online course for the first time, starting this month. So if you are interested in this course but don’t want to travel to Lancaster, this might be the perfect solution for you. It’s incredibly affordable*, convenient and we have condensed the curriculum into a six-month programme. You can find all of the details and how to book, here

Peer Mentoring

Our Peer Mentoring programme for women running businesses in Lancaster is going so well, we are opening a second cohort on October 14th. This is a fabulous initiative where you train as a mentor – a great life skill – and you also get your own trained mentor for 12-months. Working in partnership with Lancaster City Council on the COVID-19 Recovery & Resilience Initiative, this comprehensive training programme is fully funded for women who have been in business for at least three years. If this interests you, you can apply here.

November

Employment & Enterprise Skills Training

With high rates of unemployment right now, we are pleased to be able to restart our Employment and Enterprise Skills Training courses for women who are unwaged and looking for their ‘What next?’ opportunity.


Working in collaboration with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), we can offer this fully-funded, small group course to you if you are in Lancashire, deemed to be economically inactive and want support to help you take the next steps. 

The next course is face-to-face, starting on 4th November and is based in Lancaster. You can book your place via this link here

Medium-sized businesses?

We have also been awarded a contract to deliver a brand-new UK government initiative of peer-to-peer action learning for women running businesses or not-for-profits in Lancashire, who, up to the pandemic, had £100k+ turnover. 

This programme consists of 18-hours of action learning plus four-hours of one-to-one coaching. The training is fully-funded and it will run every two weeks, on a Friday morning, starting mid-November. Please note this course is limited to just 10 places. If you would like to apply for a place, please email Jane@thegrowingclub.co.uk for an application form.

In addition, we are running our monthly skills workshops and weekly drop-in sessions via Zoom. Follow our Facebook page to stay up to date

 If you have questions about any of the above, please email jane@thegrowingclub.co.uk

*If you are a woman running a business in Lancashire who wants to join this programme but have a cash-flow problem right now, Boost Lancashire has agreed to pay your fees as a Pay-It Forward grant. That means that you get the support you need now, and when you’re back on your feet, you pay for other women to do the same.

Bloom and Grow - Online growth and sustainability course (6 months)

Bloom and Grow Goes Global!

Are you a woman running a small business which has been impacted by the pandemic? 

Then we have some good news!

Pandemic problems

We don’t need to tell you that the pandemic has been hard on all of us who run small businesses and not-for-profit organisations.

Many of us had a crash-course in online tools and those who were able to, adapted to working online. Whilst it was not perfect, it had its positives and we learnt some good lessons.

One of the learning points for us was, by delivering our work via Zoom, we reached a much wider audience. We were delighted that women were able to join us from far and wide.  In fact, many women have asked us to continue delivering some of our work online, as it saves travel time, and is just very convenient for some.

So, that got us thinking. Our inclusive, female-focussed, peer-based employment and enterprise training is pretty unusual. We are often asked to run our courses elsewhere in the country, but we simply have not had the resources to do it. By adapting our work the way we did during the lockdown, it helped us to realise that we could, in fact, deliver our programmes on a global basis. All without any of us leaving the comfort of our home or office.

Accessible business training

And so, our business growth and sustainability programme, Bloom and Grow, is launching as an online course in October. 

Making courses like this available digitally is so important right now. It will help to support the recovery and resilience of female-led businesses, particularly because during lock-down, so many women took on the roles of homeschooling and caring duties. This meant that there was little time or energy left for their own business. 

We’re very happy that running our Bloom and Grow course online makes it accessible to female business owners who are:


* unable to travel/reach Lancashire & Cumbria
* living outside of North West England and the UK
* looking to create sustainable growth post-COVID19
* looking to gain all the benefits without the travel
* enjoy the business benefits of a highly-subsidised business education programme!


⁠While life is still so unpredictable it means we can provide:


* Sustainable post-COVID19 business education
* Peer support for business development and growth
* Accountability 

All while working from where you are. And even better still, as part of our commitment to support economic recovery, we have significantly reduced the price. 

⁠This course helps you to focus on your business growth and sustainability as we navigate our way through this strange new time.  

For full details and to apply for a place today on the online Bloom and  Grow course, just click this link.

If you would like to read about the impact that our business growth course has had on other women running small businesses, please take a look at our blogs.

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Peer-to-Peer Mentoring for Women in Business

It’s widely recognised that women thrive from mentoring and therefore mentoring is recommended as a strategy in supporting recovery and long-term sustainability for women in business and leadership. However, most mentoring offered is short-term, only around 12-hours and in reality, finding a mentor that understands you, is not always easy.

We have an innovative programme available which is designed to provide skilled, peer-mentors for 12 women, for a non-hierarchical, longer-term mentoring relationship. 

The Growing Club was originally set up because the founding director, Jane Binnion, had been disappointed in the quality of business mentors available. She knew as a woman, a single mum and a carer, that peer-to-peer mentoring was what she needed: someone who understood her, who she could talk to and who and would challenge and support her. Yet, she was unable to find exactly what she was looking for.

Since 2016, The Growing Club has been delivering peer work, via action learning and buddy schemes, within supportive groups where every person’s contribution matters. In 2018, we trained our first group of mentors to support female start-ups for three years, because we knew that to be really beneficial, mentoring should ideally be a longer-term relationship.

We know that mentoring works, and we know that non-hierarchical mentoring, between two equal parties, is hugely successful when both parties are fully committed. And we know that to build women’s confidence and resilience muscles, we need to create longer-term relationships, where trust can be built for those difficult conversations. 

In May this year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wrote about women being left behind in business support. For so many, home-schooling and caring responsibilities were left to women. 

We called for ring-fencing of funding to support those women, to recognise the important role that they played and to enable them to catch up, and bring their business back up to speed. 

And with that in mind, we are delighted that, as part of the Lancaster City Council COVID Recovery and Resilience Programme, we have funding to train 12 women as peer-mentors. This means that 12 local women running small businesses will benefit from both being trained as a mentor and receive a monthly mentor session – for two years, and longer of course, if they choose.

All participants will be put through a 20-hour programme (plus homework) to give them the skills and experience to mentor and be mentored by a peer, to support their business for growth and sustainability.

The course starts on September 14th, with a second cohort beginning on the 20th January 2021, and is open to any women in the Lancaster and Morecambe area who has been running a business, in any sector, for at least three years, and has business growth aspirations.

This funded programme is for you, if you:

 are a woman running a small business in Lancaster District

 have been trading for at least 3 years

 would value having a mentor

 want to support other women’s business growth

 can commit to working as a peer mentor for 2 years.

 understand the importance of mentoring as a tool of empowerment

Priority will be given to women whose business has been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

The course will initially be online and the trainers are Jane Binnion and Paul Aisthorpe. 

The nature of this initiative – to build resilience – means that it is a two-year commitment. As places are limited, we reserve the right to charge the full price of the training for participants who do not complete the programme. After all, reliability is a key requirement for a mentor!

Interested? Fill in the application form via this link.

Additionally, if you have been running your business for at least one year, and have fallen through the net in terms of government financial support, you may be eligible to receive a funded place on our business growth and sustainability programme. Apply via this link or for more information drop Jane an email: jane@thegrowingclub.co.uk

the sowing club, realise your business, women in business, business and enterprise, funded courses, lancashire, cumbria

Sowing The Seeds for Business in Morecambe

We are really excited to be offering once again, a fully-funded six-week skills training course for women in the Morecambe area, starting on the 15 January 2020.

‘The Sowing Club’ course has been funded by the European Union’s Social Fund. The course will benefit women who are currently searching for a job, in further education or self-employment and who fit into any of the following categories: 

  • in low-paid work
  • in receipt of benefits
  • suffer long-term ill-health
  • a lone parent
  • a carer
  • leaving a domestic violence situation

Our training sessions are provided in small and supportive group settings – we know this method gets the best results for you. We will be covering confidence building, how to maximise your existing skills, benefiting from support systems, problem-solving and how to plan for future opportunities. 

The founding Director of The Growing Club, Jane Binnion, says:

“We have just finished the first course which ran at the Women and Enterprise Hub in Lancaster, and the results amazed even us. Women have said their experience was life-changing and everyone felt much more confident and focused on their future. It is fantastic what just 15 hours of good attention in small groups can achieve.”

Jane Binnion

A previous attendee of The Sowing Club said:

“The Sowing Club has been useful to meet women with a tremendous passion for life, brilliant creative ideas and an attitude that will shape a great future for every one of us. Gaining support, being positive and overcoming adversity has been the main themes, and I have benefited from the collective knowledge and input. 

“I have particularly benefited from the moral support, and challenges to think and speak positively about the future; to be creative; to get on with it. To believe I can do it. I have benefited from being encouraged about my own ideas and from the positivity in the room.

“I think the continued surrounding support of The Sowing Club women will be vital to encourage and build my confidence.”

You can find the link to register for the upcoming course here.

Handy information 

When?

From Wednesday 15 January (The Spring course begins on Tuesday 18 February 2020 at the Women and Enterprise Hub, White Cross Business Park, Lancaster.)

Where?

Stanley’s Community Centre, 78-83 Stanley Road, Heysham, Morecambe, LA3 1UT

Time?

10.00hrs-12.30hrs

Any other questions?

Contact us! Jane or Lisa at The Growing Club would love to help. Call 01524 383846, text 07892 712417 or email admin @thegrowingclub.co.uk

Healthy Biz

Learn How to Have​ a ‘Healthy You, Healthy Biz’ With The Growing Club!’

Healthy You, Healthy Biz

Last week, we received a grant from Sport England, to fund a brand-new project: fitness and relaxation for women running small businesses. 

Women and fitness is not a new concept of course, and there are many examples of initiatives aimed at getting women and girls to take up sports.

But here at The Growing Club, we are focussing specifically on women business owners. 

Why? 

We help women to set up and grow sustainable businesses. We’ve worked with over 300 women so far, but time and time again, the thing that we see which blocks sustainability is the lack of self-care. Whilst for many women running smaller organisations self-care is seen as a bit of a luxury, the reality is self-care is essential, because if you are a sole trader, what happens to the business if you become unwell?

Recently, a question was put to women in business on a Facebook group, asking: what stops women taking care of themselves? The answers were sobering:

  • Feeling guilty about taking a day off.
  • Fear of failing, I push myself harder than I probably should, no downtime and rarely a day off.
  • Lack of being able to switch off and totally relax.
  • Fear of failure. Constant anxiety and a lot of my family are negative about my idea o feels an uphill battle.
  • Switching off even on holidays and days off, it’s hard to ignore your phone. I have fibromyalgia, so every day is a challenge. I think I push myself too hard, so I can allow myself to give in to it.

All of these issues are down to women still doing the double shift: working full time and still carrying the biggest share of domestic tasks. This obviously impacts women who own micro-businesses more, as they are less likely to be able to afford help at home, such as a cleaner, nanny etc.

Not addressing this will mean we do not address the rate of failure amongst women small business owners.  And this sums up why many women feel they have to quit business…“The reason I gave up was because I never had downtime. I never felt I could refuse a call.”

Illness

But it’s a bigger issue than that even. We have seen a very disturbing trend when it comes to women’s health, with a significant increase in strokes, heart attacks, diabetes and an all-time record high of burnout. 

It was shocking to discover that each year, twice as many women die of a stroke than breast cancer – did you know that? And the risk of stroke is a third higher for women in stressful jobs, because we eat fast food, self-medicate, stop exercising and pile the weight on. Heart disease kills six times as many women than breast cancer every year. In the UK, an average of 65 women per day dies of heart disease.

The crazy thing about those statistics is that we could really reduce those figures with some simple lifestyle changes. And that is what our course, Healthy You, Healthy Biz is all about. 

We all know the clichés: put your own oxygen mask on first; you can’t pour from an empty cup…and so on.

We know it, but we don’t act on it and in fact, self-care becomes just another stick to beat ourselves with, as we try to relax slumped and exhausted on the sofa with a glass of wine and bar of chocolate, mindlessly scrolling Facebook.

How?

The aim of our initiative is to use The Growing Club ethos that women have come to trust: peer support, buddying and creating a safe space, to work together as a group on our eight-session course. 

Healthy You, Healthy Biz is designed so that women are able to incorporate some form of exercise into their daily or weekly routine so we are making it accessible with no fancy equipment required…think cans of baked beans rather than dumbbells!

We’ll be using a pick-and-mix exercise programme, which includes dance, strength work, walking, yoga and Pilates. But because we have found women are unable to relax, we are also adding simple meditation and self-massage. We believe that if we can learn to relax, we are more likely to be able to jump off that never-ceasing hamster wheel and make time for ourselves generally.

Sharanya Sekaram wrote

“It was a courageous act that started with acknowledging that they had needs, that their needs were important, and that those needs deserved to be met.” 

Sharanya Sekaram

This is not an easy process, but our work is all about addressing the hard stuff.

The first course started on Friday October 18th in Lancaster and is proving to be a huge success. The next course is in Morecambe and starts Monday January 13th. You can book on that course here.

There will then be two more courses at different locations with varying days and times, to make it as accessible to as many women running small enterprises as possible.

For more information, please email jane@thegrowingclub.co.uk or call Jane on 07521 314926

The Growing Club CIC is a social enterprise based in Lancaster designing and delivering enterprise skills courses for women.