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.
“After 7 weeks of hand-washing and asking favours from friends / family, I was finally able to do a load of washing myself. It was great.”
Now that we are halfway through this winter, we can see the days getting longer. February marks 3 months into our Winter Survival Project, and we thought we would just give you a little update on how it’s all going.
We have managed to help over 60 people so far, which is incredible. Gabriella from The Artisan Bazaar has been running our practical makers workshops; making cook bags and draught excluders from recycled materials. Georgina has been running our Energy Advisors drop-in!
We are going to run another Women and Numbers course in March, and at the end of the month Georgina will be running an Energy Champions course! This Energy Champions course will give you all the practical skills and knowhow to understand your energy bills, where draughts are entering your home and mitigate that, how to reduce condensation in the home and know what grants are available for home improvements. It may even lead onto paid work as a freelance energy advisor.
The feedback from Gabriella’s workshops has been fantastic, so positive that we have decided to put more sessions on in February! Here is what some of the women have had to say about the workshops.
“I was impressed with what I made and surprised at how well it turned out using recycled fabrics. It was an education. I enjoyed it.”
Along with learning a practical skill, the women have commented on how lovely it has been to be in a space with likeminded women, having the time and space to connect with each other and how valuable providing a safe space for women to come together and share their experiences. We know that running your own business can sometimes be isolating, making these kinds of environments even more important.
We have also seen many women in the community come into our Energy Advisors drop-in service. Georgina, who runs the sessions, has connected many of our women to LEAP, the Local Energy Advice Partnership. This is a great resource for people to get advice and assistance on how to save money on their energy bills.
I’ve recently got myself referred to LEAP. A knowledgeable and friendly energy advisor came into my home and helped me identify how and where I could cut costs, draught proof and reduce risk of mould and condensation. The service can even offer replacement of white goods, if yours are old and energy guzzlers. It amazed me that this service was free, I was given chimney balloon, some draught proofing under door slips, draught proofing for our letter box and some remote-control plug sockets. All on the same day! My home already feels less draughty, and these non-invasive measures are great for me, living in a rental property.
I feel confident referring anyone who may be struggling with high bills or a cold home.
But, you don’t have to take it from me. One lady who had an energy advisor from LEAP come to her house said that:
“It was fabulous, I actually understand how it [my heating system] all works and don’t feel as ripped off now I that have choice.”
Even though this project may seem a little off-beat for us, the feedback is reflecting how necessary this project is. Practical skills training is help to reduce feelings of isolation, build self-esteem, and increase feelings of autonomy.
The feedback has shown this is allowing women to better manage their own finances, reinforced with our upcoming Women and Numbers in April, and make informed decisions about their own lives.
So, definitely come down and see what is available to you whilst this project is ongoing! Our drop-in service at our offices on a Thursday, 12:30 – 2:30, at our offices in White Cross (742 Cameron House), call our offices at 01524 383846, or email email@example.com, to find out a bit more!
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!
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.
The Growing Club is thrilled to have been chosen as one of ten changemakers in the UK and Ireland, to collaborate on a Changemakers programme, with a committed £1.5 million over three years to support social enterprises that have created bold and innovative ideas to improve resilience and protect against financial life shocks, such as illness, divorce or change in income.
Sometimes, we just need to talk and be listened to, without interruption or judgement. Our Peer Listening Project is a chance to explore how to create a space for others, how to listen and how to take care of ourselves whilst listening to others
Heading into spring with bounce or do you need a little extra support? However you’re feeling, we’ve got you covered with another packed month of The Wellbeing Programme, delivered by expert facilitators and wellness specialists and designed especially for women.
We’ve created a handy downloadable copy of The Wellbeing Programme for March, detailing all of the workshops and events that are scheduled for the coming month. You can download the PDF copy here. Keep an eye on our Facebook page too – we often add in special events and sessions as the month progresses.
We all need a good listening to from time to time. This year, with all the challenges we have faced during 2020, we need it more than ever. At the same time, we have been less able to be around friends and spend time together, so although we have the phone, zoom, social media and a variety of other platforms, it’s been a lonely time for many.
Human beings need each other: we are interdependent creatures. Yet, the society we live in right now, often leads us to think we should be able to do it all on our own and that needing others is a sign of weakness.
Not so. Sharing what is going on for us can feel vulnerable, but as Brené Brown says in her book Rising Strong:
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
Sharing what is going on for us, being seen and heard may feel a bit vulnerable at first, but it’s amazing what a good listening to can do for us. When someone listens without judgement, we can feel a sense of being accompanied and less alone. And when we share out loud what is going on in our lives, we can gain more clarity about what is important to us. Even when all the listener does is just be there.
As a listener, it can be hard to see others in pain and we want to help. We might feel helpless, want to offer solutions or share our stories to let the speaker know we understand. Often, the best gift we can give to another is to just be there. Don’t just do something. Be there! Offer your presence as a gift and just be a listening companion. It can be a great relief to realise that you don’t have to fix anything and to know that that you can make a difference by simply listening.
The Listening Project
As part of The Listening Project, we will explore how to create space for others, how to listen and how to take care of ourselves so we don’t get bogged down by what we hear. We’ll need lots of practice so there will be lots of chances to be heard as part of the course.
At the end of the course we will partner you with someone else who has taken part so that you can become listening partners and continue to provide listening support for each other. So no matter what life throws at you, you will have someone to listen. This could also include sharing when things are going well.
The course will not only enable you to improve your listening skills and have the opportunity to be heard – the skills you will learn can be invaluable in daily life in being able to hear more clearly what is important to others, and to fully listen and understand before responding.
This course will take place online and is free of charge. It begins on Monday February 15th, with sessions running on the Mondays of March 1st, 15th and 29th.
The times are 1pm – 2.30pm, with a commitment to practice with a partner in between sessions.
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