debbie bullock HR, case study

Case Study: Debbie Bullock

My business is Debbie Bullock HR. I am a Freelance HR Consultant.

My aim is to support employers to have a harmonious working relationship with their staff. I care deeply about people, their lives, our communities and believe we work better pulling together, not pulling apart. I have a strong, knowledgeable, and up to date background in Human Resources, specialising in Employment Law, with a Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management focused in Employment Law from the University of Central Lancashire.

Our Story@2x

Read our Feature in Lancaster Guardian: ‘Amazing’ £260k National Lottery funding boost for Lancaster club

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.”

Read the full article here: Lancaster Guardian feature

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Case Study: Amy Gunawan

My business is Amy Gunawan Basketmaker, soon to be Amy’s Willow Weaving. I make baskets and woven decorative pieces from willow. I also run workshops teaching basketry and woven crafts which offer a space for people to take time out of their busy lives, to enjoy the creative process and be focused learning a new skill and to be in the present moment.

business mentoring

Mentoring – a view from both sides

For the last 5 years we have been recruiting and training women in business as mentors for the women graduating from our start-up programme.

If you have been wondering about being a mentor, we thought you might like to read the view from both sides.

Firstly, Rebecca Young, a branding designer, and young woman who graduated from her cohort in the middle of the pandemic and completed her mentoring at Christmas 2022.

“I was so grateful for the opportunity to work with a mentor as part of the Growing Club’s Roots and Shoots programme. I was paired with a brilliant mentor who I had a strong connection with. Together we created a space where there were no wrong answers and no achievement was too small to celebrate. I felt deeply understood, even when I couldn’t always find the words to express myself. It was wonderful to talk through my ideas with someone who I knew without a doubt was on my side. I left each monthly session feeling energised and positive.

My mentor taught me several practical techniques for managing my time and structuring my work week. This has been an important step towards overcoming feelings of anxiety and overwhelm as I work towards my business goals. She also supported me as I worked through projects with clients, and it was really special to share those experiences with her and hear her perspective. I now have a much clearer idea of the services I want to offer and an understanding of what clients will expect from me.

Perhaps the most important thing I have gained is the momentum to keep moving forward, one step at a time, even if my journey takes longer than someone else’s. I was really moved to hear from my mentor in our last session together that she enjoyed the experience too and is proud of what we achieved together.”

Whilst most of our mentors are local to North Lancashire / South Lakeland, Favour Onabanjo is one of our mentors who zooms in from Surrey. She is now working with her second mentee.

Favour wrote;
“I have been on the Growing Club mentoring scheme for over a year now. I really enjoyed it. Firstly, I love to offer help where I can; I also derive joy in helping others to be their best. That’s my motivator.

Being a business coach, I initially found it tricky to follow the mentoring model. I am used to coaching and handholding many of my paying clients. And one of my strengths which can sometimes turn into a weakness, is giving the DRIVE that my client needs to move ahead and succeed. So, the mentoring felt like, I wasn’t working in my best capacity, and I wasn’t comfortable with that. But once I got to the swing of things. I began to blend in. I realised I was here to encourage, listen, use examples to empower them, make suggestions etc.

How interesting a mentoring journey is will be determined mostly by your mentee. Whether they are ready to do the work to make the changes, they are looking to see. One of my mentees is supercharged. I always look forward to our meeting. She’s an action-taker and takes her personal development seriously.

As you can see, two very different personality types, and that is why we take time to carefully match mentee and mentor for best fit. And furthermore, we hold bi-monthly mentor forum meetings for sharing and support. So we don’t just throw you in there and hope for the best!

If you would like to know more about being a mentor with us, or would like to sign up to the training which starts in April, please contact Rebecca by phone or email.

The Growing Club designs and delivers employment and enterprise training and support, by women for women.

numbers-2023

English is important, but maths is importanter

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.

We are delivering this work in 3 ways:

  1. In both January and February there will be a 4-session course to simply build your confidence with using numbers. Ebony explains more in this video.
  • 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

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Winter Survival

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.

The full list of dates can be found here:

Draught excluders:
9/12/22
06/01/23
20/01/23

Cook Bags:
16/12/22
13/01/23
27/01/23

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 RoseTinted Financial 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 providing a 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!

the sowing club, Sow to Grow

What the heck is The Sowing Club?

What the heck is The Sowing Club? The title, The Sowing Club, was a deliberate play on words. It is a short course with a small group of your peers, where together we sow the seeds of possibility.

What is The Sowing Club all about?

On a practical level it is a group that meets one morning a week for 6 weeks. Essentially, it is small group of women who want to make a change to their employment situation. But in actuality, it is magic!

It all started in 2017, as our first lottery funded project, which we called a pre-start course for unemployed women. Pre-start up was not a term that was used back then, but is much more common now. When I set up my first business in 2010 I was an unemployed single mum and didn’t have a clue what I had to do. When you are wondering about starting a business there are a million questions, and no one to ask.

As we developed our social enterprise, I realised that there are lots of unemployed women who have skills, hopes and dreams but are at risk of being pushed into low paid, insecure work. And I wanted them to know there are other options. Back then it was a 4-session course, and feedback was that just isn’t enough, so we changed it.

We have gone on to run variations of this course for women aged 50 plus, in response to the change in pension age, for refugee women, for unwaged women, and for young women who have left school and are feeling a bit lost

What has been really interesting for us over more recent years, is the mix of women who want to join the course. We now attract unemployed women, women who hate their job as well as women facing redundancy. Women with no qualifications and women with a PhD come together with a shared experience.  

I often say most of us, women and men, are all sorts of wonderful shaped pegs who have sadly been rammed into square holes, and try as we might to fit in, in the end it just makes us unhappy, or ill. We have a significant number of women with long-term health conditions, often caused by work, who are getting stuck in the benefits trap, and are fading away, whilst their heart and soul is crying out to be useful and creative, and to be active in society. 

So, what is it that we actually do on this short course?

Well, tutors and participants use words like: find a new path, re-connect with our skills and dreams, a space to look at things differently, a chance to re-charge, reset and make a change.

I call it “What Next?”, I call it a supported space to work with your peers to re-connect with your skills and dreams. Women who have been through the course say it gives them permission to go back to what they really love, after years of doing the sensible thing. It’s a guided programme where you get to review you, and look at your options again. That may be joining our start-up course to start a small business, or going back to study, or maybe getting a job in a pub so you can follow your dreams of being a karaoke singer (that is one of my all-time favourites).

It doesn’t matter what you do next, what matters is that you get to see that you have a choice, and that it’s never too late .

We take you through a programme where each week builds on the last, enabling you to re-discover who you are, what you love, what you are good at. We will gently challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone, so you can see what possibilities there are

So who is this for? It is for any woman, whatever her circumstances and background . It is for any woman who feels they want to make a change to how they earn their money. It is a space where you will meet women you may never have had the opportunity to meet. It’s for you if you are unemployed, in work you hate, a carer, have been out of employment for a while, or are facing redundancy. It’s for you if you know that you don’t want to be in the situation you are in for the rest of your working life.

Thank you very much to the Sowing Club…It has been invaluable. I have been seeking direction to move forward and the timing of the course was perfect. It was such a positive and welcoming space. You say you recognise untapped potential in individuals and empower them to step into it … you do. Thank you.

If you think this might be for you, or someone you care about, the next cohort starts on Tuesday 20th September in Lancaster. Sign up here or call Rebecca on 01524 383846 and one of the trainers, Soaad or Nicola, will call you to answer any questions you have, because we know it’s scary to go somewhere new.

It is funded for women in hardship, otherwise we ask for a donation based on your household income. And, we can help with bus fare and child care costs if they are things that stop you coming.

Can’t get to Lancaster? We will run a cohort via zoom after Christmas, email Rebecca@thegrowingclub.co.uk to register your interest.

More information about the course here.