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Case Study: Nikki Cookson

Nikki Cookson is the owner of Woodcroft Crafts. She shares her story about how her business started, and how The Growing Club CIC has helped her gain confidence with her business through peer support and a strong network of women in business. Nikki is currently on the Bloom and Grow online training course, on a Pay It Forward grant, funded by Boost: Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub. The course helps women to develop and grow sustainable businesses.

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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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International Women’s Day 2021

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.

Ginny Koppenhol Photography

You can find out more about Ginny via her website, Facebook or Instagram.

Katie Birks Branding and Design

Katie can be found over on her website, Instagram or Facebook.

The Write Type Ltd

Claire can be found via her website, Instagram or Twitter.