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!
Luckily for us, Rebecca runs a tight ship when it comes to our CRM, and 12 phone calls later 8 women who are all starting small businesses agreed to meet at our base in Lancaster on the lunchtime of the 15th . The agenda was to discuss their thoughts on the budget response to the government wanting over 50’s to re-join the workforce.
Obviously, we provided cake.
At The Growing Club we are very committed to women getting their voices heard, and so this was an exciting opportunity for women on our start-up courses to not only discuss the budget, but also to appear on prime-time news.
It was a whirlwind of a day, such fun and such heartfelt responses. But of course, only 3 minutes of the discussion was aired, so I wanted to give those who had taken part the opportunity to share their experience of it all. Below, Laura, Claire, and Maz share their thoughts.
It’s not every day that you receive a call to ask you to be on prime-time national news.
Yet who better to respond to and question recent Budget references of ‘economically unproductive’ over 50s than Lancaster’s inspiring ‘Growing Club’ for Women in Business.
Jane Binnion, the Club Founder and Director, together with representatives from the group rose to the challenge in a focus-group style discussion with Channel 4 presenter Clare Fallon.
Careers and financial gain had been almost universally sacrificed or put on hold to care for vulnerable people amongst this group. Understandably, frustration at the label emerged but also humour, for example, when comparing the fallacy of the ‘golf course frequenters’ with the reality of these women’s stories of years of unpaid and under-valued work.
Failures of the state to perform this function were sadly and tragically evident.
An hour’s rich and lively dialogue condensed into two minutes could not do justice to the full content and spirit of the conversation. Strong and confident voices representing female perspectives revealed the Government’s measurement and value system to be narrow and restrictive.
Groups such as the Growing Club exemplify an alternative way forward, offering supportive, responsive and flexible opportunities to empower older women. Here they can draw on their experience and wisdom to reach their potential for the benefit of not only the economy but also society.
Jane has identified and created not only a culture, but a positive and resilient model.
For me the visit of a Channel 4 news crew to the Growing Club was the perfect opportunity to have my say on the Budget – far better than shouting at the telly like I usually do. They chose the Growing Club because they wanted to speak to ‘economically inactive’ women over 50s but I think this label is misleading. Without all the unpaid work that women do the economy would quickly grind to a halt. We all agreed that the best way to help women across the UK would be a Growing Club in every town!
They filmed us for over an hour and I felt that I had had my say and had been listened to. Afterwards a few of the others thanked me for putting into words what they had been thinking and that felt like an amazing privilege.
They said it was likely to be a 5-minute report but it turned out our segment was only a couple of minutes which didn’t include me speaking. But it was such a positive experience that I didn’t care, and my family all said I looked good on the big screen!
It was an honour to be involved in the channel 4 news documentary about the budget of 2023 and the government incentive of over 50’s “returning to work”
We had an hour of lively discussion on how the budget affected us and it was wonderful of Jane who pioneered the Growing Club supporting women setting up their own business. The focus of the conversation aired at only 5 minutes was a snapshot on working mothers, grandmothers, and carers to children, elderly relatives and neighbours… Which was why we were laughing at the absurdly of it all.. An honour to be involved.
And from us, a huge thank you to the Channel 4 team for finding us, and to Tanya, Maz, Claire, Laura, Angie, Rosanna, Dawn and Shaheda for taking part. And sorry to those who couldn’t make it at such short notice due of caring responsibilities.
The Growing Club designs and delivers employment and enterprise training and support for women. If you are a woman with a business idea, you might want to join our next start-up cohort. Details here