Our successful mentor training programme is running again, aiming to train existing women in business to support other women who are beginning their business journey with their own startup, after they complete their Roots and Shoots programme.
We need you!
If you have received support from The Growing Club CIC in the past, or maybe you just like what we do, we need your help so we can help other women to succeed through our Auction of Promises.
You may know that the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) ended in December, meaning people on benefits no longer receive financial or practical support from the Department of Work and Pensions to start a small business. That means many women who would have liked to use their skills and experience to become self-employed, now face a further hurdle, and if we don’t address this, starting a business will now only be an option for those with capital.
On May 20th, we are holding an Auction of Promises to build a seed fund to support women in hardship with their basic business start-up costs.
So where do you come in?
There are 4 things you can do to help us…
1. Offer a promise that people can bid for. That can be anything from offering your professional services, homemade baked goods or even a night away. Some promises we’ve already received include:
- a handmade leather journal cover from Tinbox Angel
- one hour of holistic therapy from Escape & Rebalance
- 3 x hours of photography tuition from Ginny Koppenhol Photography
- a romantic night for 2 at Castle View in Lancaster
2. Come along to the Auction evening for a fun night out and bid for things you want (it’s a great way to buy unusual birthday gifts). Book your tickets here.
3. Offer a raffle prize.
4. Tell your friends, family and network and get them involved.
Our aim is to raise £10,000 that women can pitch for at our Autumn Angels’ Den event
We have already received an amazing donation of £1000 from the Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan Trust to start us off!
Details of the Auction of Promises
What? An Auction of Promises
When? 20th May 2022, 19.00hrs – 23.00hrs
Where? The Gregson Centre, 33-35 Moor Gate, Lancaster, LA1 3PY.
If you are interested in offering your own promise, please download and fill out this Auction form and
return it to:
The Growing Club,
605, Alston House,
White Cross, LA1 4XQ.
or email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, you can call the office at 01524 383848 and your donated promise can be logged over
the phone. Everyone who donates a promise will receive a free ticket to the event.
We’d love your support in whichever way you can help us!
As part of the celebrations for International Women’s Day 2022, we spoke with four women who took part in the first-ever cohort of The Growing Club CIC’s business training course in 2015. The programme is now called Bloom and Grow, helping women who are running their own businesses to do it sustainably and with strong peer support.
Lancaster’s The Growing Club CIC has launched a short film as part of the Lancashire Innovation Festival. Voices from the Frontline is a thought-provoking film by women aged 50-plus – as business owners and employees – on their hidden skills and daily triumphs.
Just before lockdown hit, a group of women aged 50-plus came together to work with The Growing Club CIC for two days. This project was funded by Rosa, and aimed to share the women’s experiences, reflect on their life journey, skills and create a short film. The team comprised of Alison Cahn and Frances Bowen of Forgebank Films, photographer Ginny Koppenhol and group workers Jacqueline Harris and Jane Binnion.
The Growing Club CIC is a social enterprise based in Lancaster, designing and delivering employment and enterprise training and support, especially for women, from skills to startup, to sustainable business growth training.
The Pensions Act (2011) changed the age range for women receiving a pension from 60 to 66. This is a critical issue that has caused much debate, along with social and financial difficulties. Women have rich skills and experience, they feel more confident, and they want to be able to continue to work and share their knowledge and expertise.
Conversely, societal attitudes towards older women have not changed. This means many more women have ended up unemployed, or are expected to take on low-paid insecure work. This has resulted with more women in poverty. The week before the film launch, Prospect Union shared research that showed there is a 37.9% difference in retirement pay between men and women. Much of this is due to the fact that many women become unpaid carers at some point in their life and career.
The women explored issues surrounding this age bracket, with the group identifying commonalities in themes. These centred around: caring responsibilities and support, being economically viable, the scant information available for women moving from being a stay-at-home parent into work and business, opportunities and networking being made available, easy and visible for women over 50.
Women who took part in the filming spoke on the issues they have faced:
“If I applied for a job at my age, I wouldn’t get looked at because if you’re looking at IT jobs for women, they’re within a certain age band…I would like to contribute more to society. I do some voluntary work, but I just feel as though I’m not at the end of my working life yet.”Shirley
“There’s such a wealth of knowledge, experience, that we can share with people who are younger than us.”Jennifer
“I want to teach children because there’s a generation gap in education, especially in arts and crafts. There have been so many cuts and people just don’t learn anymore. I think it’s important. In my job, I organise workshops to try and pass on those lost skills.”Gabriella
Lancashire Innovation Festival
Voices from The Frontline film was launched in October 2021 at The Dukes Cinema in Lancaster, during the Lancashire Innovation Festival. The festival aimed to showcase social innovation as the design and implementation of new solutions that demonstrate conceptual, process, product, or organisational change. Ultimately, this aims to improve the welfare and wellbeing of individuals and communities.
“We wanted to make the film to explore the issues of female eldership, which is valued in some societies and not others, and to highlight the issue of wasted skills and talent. This is even more relevant now with current skills shortages”Jane Binnion, managing director of The Growing Club
At the film launch, Jacqueline Harris led a discussion in small groups, enabling all to take a new look at how the social issues raised could be addressed. Feedback from the film launch included emotive words such as “powerful,” “enlightening” and “humbling”.
People also were asked what they might do differently as a result of seeing the film and participating in the discussion. Examples of comments received were: “I will value older people’s back story”, and around learning to ask questions differently on the values and many roles that older women have played, and the resulting experience they can bring to the table. Members of the audience were alarmed at how so much skill and experience is simply wasted as a nation. And additionally, the lost opportunities there are when employers hold a limiting mindset as to what skills are valuable.
Many of the older women present at the launch reported that they felt more confident and hopeful. They stated they will approach things differently going forward, recognising what skills they have developed, rather than writing themselves off.
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.”
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 email@example.com or call 07521 314926. You can download the application form here and return to Jane.
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.