Claire is an Accredited Public Relations Practitioner and runs a PR and communications consultancy, working on a global basis. She focuses on ethical communications, helping the third sector, CICs, environmental organisations and small businesses, to tell their story with power and authenticity.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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 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 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.
Today is International Women’s Day 2021 (IWD), where we celebrate achievements and gains in gender equality, whilst still continuing the challenge to strive for further gains on a global level for a more gender-equal world.
This year’s theme is Choose to Challenge, encouraging women to continue to challenge gender bias and inequality, helping to create a more equal world.
Throughout this week, we’ll be celebrating IWD 2021 by sharing stories from some of the women within The Growing Club CIC network. Today is the first instalment, with three of our course graduates explaining a little more about what they do.
Just listen to me!
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.”Brené Brown
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.
The final session is April 26th.
You can book this course via the link here.
The sessions are led by Sarah Ludford and Hannah Ehlert.
New month, new initiatives! We’re still busy creating support systems for women in business, and indeed, all women who would like to access our wellbeing sessions.
We’ve created a handy guide below to The Wellbeing Programme for February, for the workshops and events that are scheduled for February. You can download the PDF copy here.
March’s programme is currently being finalised and we’ll publish this towards the end of February.
Any questions? Drop us a message here and we’ll get back to you. Happy February-ing!
This is an introduction to Self-Compassion, by The Growing Club’s Wellbeing officer, Sarah Ludford. Sarah will be running a Self-Compassion Series, starting on the 26th February 2021. Find out more here.
Compassion is an old word that is getting used a lot more of late but how many of us actually know what it means? The Latin root for the word compassion is pati, which means ‘to suffer’, and the prefix com – means ‘with’. Compassion, originating from compati, which means to suffer with. I like to think of the ‘with’ as being alongside. If we are alongside someone in their suffering then we are moving into the realm of empathy rather than sympathy or feeling sorry for someone. We accompany them so they are not alone in difficult times.
Self-compassion, is being alongside myself. Sometimes, particularly at the moment, it can feel like we are alone most of the time, and yet the way the human brain works means that we are constantly talking to ourselves, constantly having conversations with ourselves. Some conversations that we might enjoy and some that might be harder to deal with. What this means is that is possible to be alongside ourselves, and to do this with compassion. The dialogues we have with ourselves could be compassionate and understanding rather than critical or blaming.
Self-compassion came to me slowly. For a long time when I was dealing with challenges and trying to understand myself, I would push myself. I would be seeking to understand, trying to find the answer, trying to get to a resolution. It was painful because I was always trying to get somewhere, rather than being where I was.
Gradually, through the practice of being listened to and accompanied, by receiving empathy and compassion from others, I began to find compassion for myself. When things were out of balance, I would make a gentle and loving enquiry of myself. I would sit with my feelings and let them be there. I would get curious rather than impatient. And I found this to be so much more nourishing and supportive of my well-being and my personal growth. To accept and love myself in the moment and to open to the possibility of self-understanding and growth through the process.
Discipline and drive can get us a long way but without kindness and compassion it can be an uncomfortable way to live. With self-compassion I can celebrate the highs and be accompanied in the lows. I can be present and supportive to myself and take the time to get curious about what is happening and what is important to me. If I can hold myself with compassion, then I can feel sad rather than being sad – which also means I hold the potential to feel happy at the same time!
Dr Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself says:
“Self-compassion is not based on positive judgments or evaluations, it is a way of relating to ourselves. People feel self-compassion because they are human beings, not because they are special and above average. It emphasizes interconnection rather than separateness. This means that with self-compassion, you don’t have to feel better than others to feel good about yourself. It also offers more emotional stability than self-esteem because it is always there for you – when you’re on top of the world and when you fall flat on your face.”Dr Kristin Neff
I find self-compassion to be a powerful tool and I am passionate about sharing it with others. And it’s not just about being gentle. Self-compassion can include coming to know ourselves better and that can be very empowering. The practice I work with – Nonviolent Communication – provides the tools not only for compassion but for a deep understanding of self and others, and for developing steps to care for myself, to communicate with clarity and love and to consider and care for everyone’s needs.
I am excited about being able to offer this work to women as part of The Growing Club’s well-being programme. You can find out more and book here.
Soaad Patel is the owner of Ayesha’s Attire, an independent boutique providing high-quality clothing that helps busy women dress well to feel good. Here she shares her story about how her business started, and how The Growing Club has helped her gain confidence and create solid business foundations. Soaad took part in the 12-month Roots and Shoots course – The Growing Club’s start-up course.
I’m Soaad, and my business is called Ayesha’s Attire. It’s named after my five-year-old daughter. As a single mum, she is my inspiration. What drives me is to give us both a better life. Before having her, I was very into fashion and loved buying clothes. But when I became a single parent I had to rethink my finances.
So I thought of the concept of buying pieces that I can wear over and over again, which are versatile and can be worn at home, or out with friends and so on. I also heard a lot of other women saying the same thing, so that’s why I started my business to help women buy affordable pieces which will go a long way. My pieces are modern, stylish and require minimal effort, you can dress them up with a belt or a scarf, but you don’t have to. Whether you’re a mum or a busy woman, these pieces help you look good. And when you look good, you feel good, and you have the confidence to tackle the day’s challenges.
Obviously, in this pandemic we’re spending a lot of time at home and want to be comfortable, but if you’re on a Zoom call you also have to be presentable. And this is what my business is all about, providing what women need in their new lifestyle, with high quality pieces you can keep for a long time, which are also comfortable.
I started my business last year before my daughter started school, but as she’s a child with a lot of energy, like most children that age, it was hard to concentrate on the business until she started in reception full time.
One of the reasons I started my own business was because I’ve always been a career-oriented person. I used to have five or six jobs at once, working in schools with children, and I loved it. When I became a mum, I felt like I’d lost that part of me, and I missed working, so I worked in retail for a while, but it didn’t have that problem-solving element which I enjoyed, so when a friend suggested I should start my own business, I started looking for suppliers, and it all went from there.
Obviously, I didn’t know how to run a business and I knew I needed support so that’s when I found out about The Growing Club. I had a chat with Jane Binnion and found out about all their courses and really liked the community feel of it. I also liked the fact that there are women at all stages in their business involved in The Growing Club, so whatever stage you’re at, people will relate to you and can help you.
My business is still fairly new, but I know a lot more than I did. For example, I didn’t know about getting the foundations of your business in place, and I went 10 steps ahead. But now thanks to The Growing Club, I know how important it is to do the right steps in order to be successful and to have a concrete business.
In 2021 I would like to continue to build up my customer base and grow my mailing list. When we’re allowed, I want to do pop-up shops as well, as they’re a great way to connect with people.
I’d recommend to other women that they get to know the ethos of The Growing Club, because they’re not like other organisations. It’s a community where women often go through the courses and then become involved in delivering them to others. I’m helping to facilitate the Sowing Club, for example, and I know other women have been through courses and gone on to volunteer and work with The Growing Club too, which is fantastic.
Overall, I’d say the main way that The Growing Club has helped me is with my confidence. I’m much more confident now than I was before I met Jane, and I’m really excited about the future of my business.
Hello and welcome to 2021! Yes, we are once again encased in COVID-19 impacts, with the UK currently in another lockdown situation.
Fortunately, we’re here for you with Wellbeing January (and beyond)! We’re delighted to have been awarded funding from the fabulous Smallwood Trust. As a result of this, we have a brand-new, sparkly Chief Wellbeing Officer, Sarah Ludford.
Sarah’s been super busy, devising a programme of wellbeing and self-care that’s designed to help you keep buoyant, healthy and present throughout lockdown living. Any of the workshops that are run as Facebook Lives will be available to access again whenever you need them, especially if you can’t tune in at the time they are live.
Have a look below to see what we have planned for you…
6th January 2021 – Facebook Live with Gabi Crossley. Gabi is a fully-qualified pre and post-natal exercise specialist. As The Mindful PT, Gabi works with women to balance all aspects of health and movement with everyday life. Link for the event can be accessed here.
6th January 2021, 10.00 – 11.00 am – Start 2021 feeling calm and positive, with a special mindfulness session with Hazel Hardie. This interactive workshop will include a guided meditation and mindfulness exercise about letting go of your worries and creating a positive vision for your year ahead. This is a Zoom class – link here.
Thursdays 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th of January, 12.30pm – 2.00pm – Weekly Drop-in Sessions. Every Thursday, join us for a relaxed session – grab a brew, talk about your business issues or just join us for connection. All women welcome! We offer good peer support and networking opportunities. Link to each week is here.
12th January 2021 – The Sowing Club is returning this month. If you are unemployed or on benefits and looking for your “What next?”, please join us on this fully funded course. There are still places left. Here’s the link to book your place.
13th January 2021 – Facebook Live on abdominal massage with Nicola Garret. Nicola runs Exhale – a wellness studio – focussing on a variety of massages, pregnancy yoga and women’s wellness workshops
She will be giving a demo on abdominal self-care – a simple self-massage that is deeply relaxing and can help digestive, fertility issues and generally help to boost the immune system.
*Postponed* 13th January 2021, 10.00-11.30 – Wellbeing Walk: Enjoying the beauty of nature with Alex, who runs a walking tour business, offering guided nature and heritage walks.
We have an incredible natural wonder on our doorstep. Morecambe Bay is the largest intertidal bay in the UK, the second-largest bay in Britain, teeming with wildlife – over 200,000 birds visit over winter and hundreds of seals colonise here to give birth.
The Bay is also one of the most bio-diverse areas of the country supporting nationally and internationally important species of wildflowers, and woodlands which in turn provide habitats for rare butterflies and red deer.
Join Alex for a 90 min (socially-distanced) walk, taking in the beautiful scenery of Morecambe Bay, discover some of the amazing nature, connect with others and get some exercise and fresh air.
13th January 2021, 4pm – a Zoom Game Party with Fiona Frank
Fiona will facilitate three or four Zoom games to play. It will be a lighthearted session, designed to help you have fun and a giggle together. The session will finish with a dance party so wear comfy clothes and clear your floor! Fiona has worked for the last nine years, up till September, as Projects and Outreach Manager for the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities which, since March, meant moving all the organisation’s events online. She’s learned lots about Zoom along the way, and has led and been part of zoom tech teams for national and international conferences and for a music festival over the summer. As part of her Zoom journey she’s learned a few fun games that you can do on Zoom with friends, family, work colleagues and across large groups of people – whether or not you share a language. They’re all light-hearted, don’t need much equipment, and will be handy to brighten up Zoom meetings that you might be running yourselves in the new year. Link for more information here.
20th January 2021, 12pm, – join Jennie for a session of Hormonal Harmony!
Jennie Edmondson will run a short session of Hormonal Harmony. If you suffer with hot flushes or low energy, she will show you how to work alongside your body to manage hormonal issues. Jennie is ex-military personnel who now works as a coach, specialising in online nutrition, movement and mindset, dedicated to keeping things simple and achievable to guarantee results.
Tuesdays 18th, 25th Jan and February 1st, 10.00 – 11.15am – join Laura Sandham-Smith from The Laura Sandham School of Dance for a jazzy musical theatre workshop!
This fun musical theatre workshop will be based around All That Jazz from the West End musical, Chicago. This dance-style session will work your body without you even realising, because you will be enjoying yourself so much! The routine will be easy to follow and no dance experience is needed. The cost for this course is just £10. Link to follow.
20th January 2021, 3.30pm – 5pm – 6 Essential Ingredients of Emotional Well-being for Building Personal Boundaries with Elaine Remy, Certified Emotional Well-Being Coach.
In this workshop, you will discover 6 Essential Ingredients of Emotional Well-Being for Building Personal Boundaries to prepare you for potentially difficult conversations and one extra ingredient: the cherry on the cake.
20th January 2021, 10.00am – 12.30pm – our January skills workshop is LinkedIn Essentials with Alex Dickson. Find out how to get the best out of LinkedIn for your small business.
Whatever type of business you are starting, running or expanding, having an engaging and professional LinkedIn profile and using its network is invaluable, and it’s FREE!
In this interactive workshop, Alex will help you get your profile page and your business noticed, and show you how to connect with people, businesses and organisations to help your business grow. Alex Dickson spent four years in the Learning & Development Team at LinkedIn HQ in California and has over 20+ years working in the IT industry around the world. She is now happily back in Morecambe, setting up her own Tour Guide business. You can view her LinkedIn profile here.
Tickets for this workshop are just £10, and as always we have some free places for women in hardship. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
27th January 2021, 1pm – 2.30pm – Art For the Heart: A Nurturing Session on Self-Care with Julia Yates from Lancaster Creative Counselling
Join an online art workshop focused on self-care and relaxation. This session is an opportunity to explore simple creative techniques to self-soothe. This includes a guided visualisation to help you tap into your creativity. No talent is required! Please have some paper, felt tips, pencils or paints to hand. This will be a safe and confidential space to focus on you. Link to follow.
This page will be updated with more events and workshops as they are confirmed.
As always, we have some funded places for unwaged or struggling women for any courses that have a cost to them. Please send us a message and let us know if we can help.
The Women and Enterprise Hub, 6-0-5 Alston House, White Cross, Lancaster, LA1 4XQ
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
- 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.”
From Tuesday 12th January, running for six Tuesdays.
Morecambe area – to be confirmed.
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.
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 email@example.com for more information.
The final month of the year and we’re sure most people are ready to wave bye-bye to 2020 and welcome 2021 in what will hopefully be a better, happier and healthier year for us all.
Here’s our round-up of what’s happening at The Growing Club in December and running into January in the New Year.
Dates for your diary
10th December 2020 – join us online for a Christmas get-together? Let’s spread some seasonal cheer, celebrate friendship and close-off 2020 in style. The Growing Club’s Christmas Party will be on the 10th December. Come in a fancy-pants outfit or your Christmas cosy pyjamas. Bring your choice of festive food and drink, and join us for an afternoon of games, chat and cheer via Zoom. More information here and to book your free ticket, visit this link.
17th December 2020 – Women in Business in Lancashire and Cumbria. This Federation of Small Businesses event will be hosted by The Growing Club’s Jane Binnion, focusing on women in business and taking care of our wellbeing. This event will be festive and fun! You can register for a free ticket here (spaces are limited).
12th January 2021 – The Sowing Club returns with new sessions in Morecambe beginning in the New Year. If you are unemployed, unwaged, or on benefits and you’re considering setting up your own business or job seeking in new employment, why not join us on this fully-funded skills training course? Read more and apply here.
20th January 2021 – in conjunction with Lancaster City Council, Scaleability and The Growing Club, the second cohort of our Peer-to-Peer-Mentoring course for women in the Lancaster district starts on the 20th January. If you’ve been in business for three years or more, you are eligible to apply. You can read more on this course and how to apply here.
Early next year, we will be running a second online cohort of Bloom and Grow, our business growth programme. You can read more about the programme here. Please subscribe to our newsletter for the announcement of new dates.
Funding grant: we’re delighted to announce that we have been awarded funding from the Francis C Scott Charitable Trust, to run a brand-new pilot programme for unwaged young women in early 2021.
Help us to help others – if you’re doing your Christmas shopping online, you can help to raise funds for The Growing Club by using the Fundraiser app. We’re now registered with easyfundraising, which means you can help us for free. Over 4,000 shops and sites will donate to us when you use easyfundraising to shop with them, with no extra cost to yourself. All you need to do is sign-up and remember to use easyfundraising whenever you shop online. You can find out more and sign-up via this link here.
What a year it has been! With the COVID-19 pandemic dominating our year and lives, socialising properly in person has been all but a distant memory. So we may not be able to meet in person all together like we usually would, but we can still party on Zoom!
Join us online for a Christmas get-together? Let’s spread some seasonal cheer, celebrate friendship and close-off 2020 in style while looking forward to what we hope is a happier, healthier 2021 for us all.
Thursday December 10, 2020. 12:30pm – 2:00pm, GMT.
In the Zoom Room! You can book via this link here.
Dress to impress if you like – a sparkly tiara and fancy-pants outfits are more than welcome! Or even your cosy Christmas onesie if you prefer. Bring your favourite tipple and nibbles.
There will be a prize for the best festive outfit!
We usually do a Secret Santa at our Christmas party, where everyone spends £5 or under on a gift for another Growing Club woman, so this year, why not treat yourself instead?
Using the magical connection of Zoom, we can spend this time together and allow us to create small group spaces for connecting in breakout rooms.
We’d love to see you there! You can book your place via this link.