Wednesday, 20 May 2020

The Women’s Organisation steps up support for female entrepreneurs in lockdown

While its no longer “business as usual” for thousands across the City Region, The Women’s Organisation is offering entrepreneurs and SMEs a vital lifeline through its programme of online and virtual business advice, training, and webinars.

Since lockdown began nearly 60 days ago the Liverpool-based social enterprise wasted no time in re-designing its services to fully operate on an online and telephone basis, with its programme of training and events as active as ever.

Read on to find out what The Women’s Organisation has been doing so far to support women in business and how you can tap into the support on offer, plus, how to catch up with anything you might have missed…

1-2-1 business advice through the Enterprise Hub programme

The Women’s Organisation is the lead partner of the Enterprise Hub programme, which coordinates and simplifies the business start-up and growth support available across the Liverpool City Region into a “one front door” access point.

As part of this offering for aspiring entrepreneurs and growing businesses The Women’s Organisation offers 1-2-1 advice with a dedicated business advisor, either by video link or over the telephone, alongside a programme of business training.

The support on offer is fully-funded and aimed at women across the City Region who are currently thinking of starting a business, as well as new businesses which need support in navigating through the current crisis and those which are experiencing growth due to increased demand for their product or services.

Clients can now instantly book a slot online via The Women’s Organisation’s Eventbrite page, or by getting in touch via

Online business training with Enterprise Hub

As part of the Enterprise Hub programme, those eligible can also access The Hub’s full range of fully funded online training. This includes business planning course ‘Planning for Success’, ‘Building a Social Media Strategy’, ‘Basic Bookkeeping’ and ‘Understanding Tax and National Insurance’.
For anyone interested in accessing these courses, The Women’s Organisation recommends getting a business advisor as a first step before enrolling on the training.

Entrepreneurial training with Enterprise Hub Skills

In a new addition to The Women’s Organisation’s programme of training comes a special two-day ‘Managing in a Crisis: Be Resilient’ course from Enterprise Hub Skills.

This entrepreneurial training will look at what it means to be resilient, offering practical tips to strengthen personal resilience, business resilience, and other areas of life which might have been impacted.

Managing in a Crisis is free to access for women in the Liverpool City Region who are running a business or working in a business and are finding it difficult to manage under current circumstances.

The first cohort will be taking place on Thursday 28th May and Thursday 4st June, 10.30am – 12.30pm, with the following session happening the same time on Wednesday 17th June and Wednesday 24th June.

Book your place via Eventbrite or by getting in touch via

Introducing ‘Rapid Response’: expert-led online webinars

In response to the crisis, the organisation has also launched a special series of free ‘Rapid Response’ events and online webinars designed to equip the local business community with specialised entrepreneurial skills to survive, maintain momentum and thrive through the pandemic.

Led by industry experts, the series has already covered topics including accessing finance, promotion and marketing, innovation, and well-being.

The first ‘Meet the Media: Promoting your Business During a Pandemic’ session welcomed the expertise of Nazia Parveen, North of England Correspondent at The Guardian and Tony McDonough, Journalist at LBN Daily.

Life coach Claire Morton led a ‘Master Your Mindset’ session to help entrepreneurs stay positive and motivated in challenging times, also looking at how to think outside the box for business opportunities.

A special finance and legal Business Resilience Clinic Q&A looked at approaches to securing additional financial support from funders, what steps to take to ensure a surviving and viable business, as well as practical advice on the legal impacts of Coronavirus on businesses.

The Women’s Organisation’s marketing manager, Joanne Austin, led the latest session ‘Keeping Connected with Customers’ which put a focus on how businesses can use PR and social media to make sure your business stays visible.

Sessions which have already streamed are all available to watch back. Those interested should contact The Women’s Organisation directly to access a play back link.

Upcoming ‘Rapid Response’ webinars:

Following the success of the ‘Rapid Response’ series so far, The Women’s Organisation has committed to running webinars throughout the crisis tackling core business themes.

The next session, ‘SEO to Stop Google Forgetting You’ is taking place on Tuesday 26th May at 11am.

Jo Austin, Marketing Manager at The Women’s Organisation, will be sharing her tips and tricks on improving your SEO to make sure your business remains visible and help you grow your brand.

This will be followed by ‘Reacting & Adapting During a Pandemic’ on Wednesday 27th May at 11am, where you can hear from the women whose businesses have survived and thrived during the coronavirus pandemic.

We will dig deeper to understand why their transitions have been so successful, find out what worked for them and what business practices they will carry forward in the future.

As businesses start to look towards the post-lockdown world, ‘Rapid Recovery – Returning to a Better Workplace’ happening on Thursday 28th May at 11am, will explore how businesses can manage a smooth transition back to the workplace.

This Live Q&A will bring together a panel of business experts to offer their advice and tips on how to minimise risks in your working environment, how to build confidence in your team and how to adapt your strategy.

All upcoming Rapid Response sessions are free to attend and are open to business women across the City Region and can be booked directly through The Women’s Organisation’s Eventbrite page.

The message from the Organisation is clear: we are here for you and your business.

Business Adviser Co-Ordinator, Francine Taylor, says: “We understand that this is a worrying and uncertain time for entrepreneurs and businesses and so we would like to assure you that The Women's Organisation is, as always, here to support you in any way we can.

“Whether this be through our team of expert business advisers who are on hand to help guide you through these difficult times and continue to thrive, or through our programme of business training and events. We’re here for you.”

To find out more about upcoming events, or to instantly book a 1-2-1 business advice session, you can visit The Women’s Organisation’s Eventbrite page:

Those wanting to find out more can also contact the team directly via, where an engagement specialist can talk you through the support available.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Natalie Reeves-Billing: Author to Social Entrepreneur with help from Enterprise Hub

Starting a business in an unfamiliar industry can be a tough step to take. It might feel like a risk to begin with, but many entrepreneurs have come out on the other side shining.

Author and founder of Split Perspectivz – Natalie Reeves-Billing has just released her debut children’s book ‘My Mummy Is A Monster’, the first in the series of her Monstrous Me collection. With books published on Amazon, her online store and a following of over 27,000 people on social media, you might find it hard to believe that just a couple of years ago she was a newbie to the industry. 

Natalie Reeves-Billing

A jack of all trades – Natalie began her career as the lead singer of a signed touring band before moving on to run an electronics and textiles recycling plant. She also spent her time working on a slew of projects that got her entrepreneurial cogs turning. 

Her light bulb moment came when she realised there was one part of those projects she loved doing.

She told us: “I had many projects on the go, from developing soundtracks to creating new bands. I finally had a revelation when I realised it was the writing part of it, I loved, coming up with ideas and the creativity – that really charged me up”

She began her journey into Children’s writing after having her two children – and although she had been a songwriter and poet for many years, she still felt like she had a lot to learn about children’s publishing.

Struggling with structure and planning, she decided it was time to seek out business support to push herself further.

Approaching the Business Clinic at Liverpool Central Library, Natalie had the opportunity to present her Bubs book collection, a series about furry creatures with magic powers, who help children learn how to read. There she met Ali McGrath from The Women’s Organisation.

Natalie told us: “As soon as I met Ali, I knew I was in safe hands. Before discovering The Women’s Organisation, I was still trying to find my feet in a new industry”

Working with The Women’s Organisation, she was able to make huge leaps in her self-confidence as a new author by formulating long term goals and asking the right questions to the right people.

Natalie explains that by having her business advisor, Ali, to meet up with, she was able to build connections through a network of new people. 

She said: “I like the informal manner of conversation and advice. I feel like you are spending time with a wise friend. That dynamic allowed me to open up and admit my vulnerabilities, revealing the weak spots in my business model

“I found the sessions on SMART very useful and have recently applied it to a PR company I engaged with to do some work on my behalf. It meant that at briefings, I was asking the right questions and setting joint monthly goals”

Together with the programme of support from the The Women’s Organisation and Writing on the Wall, Natalie has gone on to debut her first children’s book and start a new social enterprise with an aim to provide free, enriched education.

“Split Perspectivz will use storytelling as a tool for healing and growth, and empower youngsters by discovering who they really are, through story.

I decided to set up a social enterprise after speaking to a dear friend who is also a social entrepreneur, I realised this was my way of giving back – I wanted to make a real difference”

In the future, Natalie hopes to visit schools in Merseyside to deliver workshops on creativity, emotional wellbeing, and literacy.

“Having this pause has allowed me to take stock of the advice I have been given, and to start putting them together into solid plans and strategies. The team at Women’s Organisation have been a great help to me at this challenging time.

The Monstrous Me Collection is now available on on Amazon or through Natalie's online store. 

For more information about the support available to help start or grow your new business through Enterprise Hub, please contact

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Reacting and adapting – the new business normal

Lockdown has changed the whole dynamic of business, but here in the Liverpool City Region business support agency, Enterprise Hub, is helping local entrepreneurs react and adapt to the new business normal.

With workplaces and venues forced to close to ensure social distancing, many ventures have had to rapidly reassess their whole way of working.
Here, we meet four Liverpool City Region businesses that have successfully transitioned to maintain a valuable service for their clients by ‘reacting and adapting’ to the current crisis.
All have received guidance and support through Liverpool City Region’s “one front door” access point for business support, Enterprise Hub, led by Liverpool social enterprise The Women’s Organisation.

Enterprise Hub helped freelance art educator Jennie Keegan set up her Outline Arts business two years ago.

Initially she provided courses and workshops in visual communications and worked with organisations including National Trust Formby, Tate Liverpool, Alder Hey and Aintree Hospitals, as well as schools and festivals.
Jennie works with youngsters, and adults.
Since social distancing was introduced she now reaches her classes digitally through an Online Arts Club, posting daily creative art prompts on social media, with more exciting projects in the pipeline.
Jennie said: “My sessions are planned around experimenting with materials and techniques, encouraging exploration of ideas and confidence so you switch off, be creative and enjoy the session. This aim has not changed. It is the way I do it which has.”

Recently, she was approached by Grow Liverpool and other Liverpool businesses to launch #streetgallery #frommywindow – inspired by the movement in Spain and Ireland – to encourage children, and adults, to create artwork and share it in their window to give passers-by something positive to look at.
And last month Jennie launched a free eight-week Online Art Club for children and adults which has been a resounding success.
She said: “The idea is you have an art session every day of the ‘working week. It's completely flexible so you can do as much, or as little, as you like, when you like.
“Each Monday subscribers receive a video for that day’s session, along with a handout of resources for Tuesday to Friday. There are also research activities included so students can start to gain a wider understanding of artists, organisations and galleries.”
Jennie set out with the aim of signing up 20 people, but there are now more than 90 taking part, which has inspired her to continue the programme after lockdown is lifted.
She has also been awarded a bursary from Curious Minds, the Arts Council England bridge organisation for the North West, to develop her work and adjust her teaching in response to COVID-19.
Jennie said: “Don't get me wrong, it's been a tough, uncertain time and I have moments when the thought of the future scares me, but focusing on my online courses, creating videos and positive social media content has been good for my business with my followers increasing by 15% for both Instagram and Facebook.”

Crosby-born yoga teacher Megan Halewood has been running virtual yoga retreats since the start of lockdown to help support people’s mental health during the pandemic.

Enterprise Hub helped develop her venture, Megan Marcelle Yoga & Retreats, last year.

Megan’s passion for sharing yoga stems from supporting mental health and wellbeing, having graduated with a Psychology degree in 2012.

She believes that getting on the mat to practice yoga can help people manage their everyday stress and anxiety.

So, when the UK went into lockdown, Megan knew that her classes, workshops and retreats could provide an all-important escape and support system to help people through the difficult months ahead.

Having set up a virtual yoga retreat Megan offered classes seven days a week, from 7am through to early evening.

She said: “My aim was to inspire people to get up early and make an active start to their day, giving them purpose and establishing a routine. Each day I provided tips and tools people could take off the mat to help manage stress, anxiety and fear – emotions many people are currently experiencing.”

Her online community has attracted a wide audience, extending from local clients in Liverpool to India, the US and Australia.

Megan said: “It has been a journey adapting to ways of doing business in the current crisis, and not always a smooth one, but I always come back to my intention to support others, and it is this which keeps me going.

“We are very lucky to have access to online platforms which can help us reach our clients and I highly recommend trying it out, it can be a rather strange transition for those in a customer-facing business, but people needed your business before the crisis, and will need it after, if not now.”

Payment is on a donation basis, but all sessions are free for NHS workers.

Ashley Spencer found herself in a similar situation to Megan.

The founder of Phenomenal Woman Fitness, she wasted no time in adapting her business model and taking her services online.

Having spent most of her adult working life in the corporate world, and the associated negatives of long commuting times, long hours and poor eating habits, she designed a healthier training plan that suited her lifestyle, then founded Phenomenal Woman Fitness in Wirral two years ago, offering a combination of 1-2-1 and online health, fitness and lifestyle coaching for women.

She said: “We all want to look and feel phenomenal, but for many of us this doesn't seem attainable when we are trying to grow our career, look after a family, have a social life and maintain a work/ life balance.
“As a coach, I get to the root of my client's goals and identify what's preventing them from achieving them. From there, I design their training and nutrition to suit their lifestyle, implementing small changes along the way to replace poor habits with healthy ones.”

Along with thousands of others in the leisure and fitness industry, when the Government’s COVID-19 measures meant gyms had to close, Ashley had to be flexible and innovative. And fast.

She said: “We received the news at 5pm on Friday, March 20, ordering all gyms to close that day. After visiting the gym for the last time to say goodbye to the team, I realised I was completely on my own and needed to act.”
The following day she arranged video calls with all her clients and over the weekend planned programmes for them.
She said: “I now train a handful of clients virtually via Facetime or Zoom and have transferred others temporarily to full online clients. I have also introduced free live group training sessions with clients to keep them motivated and active and am planning another for my boot camp clients.

“I had already built a strong WhatsApp community within my 1-2-1 and online client base, and had recently started a Facebook group for them, called Team Phenomenal Community, and my boot camp clients to receive useful content and support each other.

“I knew that this news was going to bring down the morale of many people and steer people away from their goals, so, during the weekend of the closure, I decided to open up the group to any women who needed help and support. In one day, the group grew from 25 members to over 80, and now has over 130.”
Since lockdown, Ashley has attended online seminars run by The Women’s Organisation, through Enterprise Hub, to scale and launch the next stage of her business. She said: “This situation has forced me to think more about my services and re-route it in a new direction. I have been challenged to communicate more frequently and openly with people, and it has massively boosted my confidence as a coach and a business owner.”

Lockdown presented more complex problems for Rosie Whittington when social distancing was introduced.

She launched The Me2U Centre in Kirkby two years ago to provide valuable support for families looking after relatives with dementia, helping them maintain their independence and remain in their own home environments, with their families, for longer.
It also provides respite, giving family carers the chance to take on normal work, home and family routines safe in the knowledge that their loved ones are in expert hands.

Once the Government’s response was launched Rosie applied to care watchdog, the CQC, to become an emergency crisis facility, offering six hospital beds for high risk dementia patients, which provides specialist dementia care, while freeing up vital capacity in NHS wards for coronavirus patients.
The centre is also offering emergency back-up, such as a crisis phone line, a shopping service, and a prescription pick-up service for its 60 clients.
Rosie intends to retain these services once lockdown is eased.
Jo Mountford, Rosie’s business advisor at The Women’s Organisation, said: “I have found it inspiring that in a time of crisis, people are working tirelessly to flip their business model with a genuine passion to support the vulnerable people in the community and their loved ones.”

Rosie responded: “I’ve got a fantastic team – I’m the face of Me2u, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the people I’ve got around me. They are so loyal and adaptable.”
Throughout the upheaval caused by lockdown, Rosie and all the other businesses supported and coached by Enterprise Hub, through The Women’s Organisation, continue to receive help and advice from their business mentors.

Whether you are thinking of starting a business, sustaining your business through the current climate, or even growing your business, we have a team of expert business advisors who are here to help you through the practicalities.

Contact us via to find out more or to book your 1-2-1 telephone or video appointment.  

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Gina Dobson styles her own future as a Colour and Style Consultant

As a Colour and Style Consultant, Gina Dobson is in the business of making people look and feel their best. Having worked with people throughout her career, Gina combined her love of fashion and styling and her past experience to set up her own business.

Gina Dobson

Gina explained: “I worked in many different roles in local authorities in Greater Manchester, including libraries and information services but I was made redundant after government cuts.

“I’d already come across the Colour Me Beautiful books when I first started working in libraries which really sparked my interest in colour and style.”  

Gina decided, after her own colour consultation to train with Colour Me Beautiful and use their expertise combined with her own passion to set up her own business; she attended St Helens Chamber’s Be Your Own Boss event to find out what support was available to her.

Gina explained: “I went along and listened to all the support available and I enrolled on the Understanding Enterprise course to learn more about starting a business- Be Your Own Boss gave me the chance to find out about one on one support too. I thought it would be daft not to take advantage of it!”

Gina worked closely with St Helens Chamber’s Start Up team to formulate a business plan and to discuss her ideas on taking the business forward.

Gina said: “It was great working with Steve as he helped me put together a plan. Speaking to Steve was the first time I spoke to someone who didn’t know me about my business and it was great to use him as a sounding board for my ideas and to talk to someone externally who can help with costing, marketing and more. He really helped give me the impetus to keep going.”

Gina’s business is growing quickly, helping people look and feel great by providing insights into which colours and clothing styles work best for them.

Gina explained: “I’m a personal stylist and image consultant, a lot of people come to me for colour analysis which is where I look at someone’s colouring in good daylight in my studio and then use coloured drapes to see how the colours are reflecting onto the face – so for a few hours people are pampered in my studio and it’s all about them.

“I also do makeup lessons, so people can practice doing their makeup themselves and they know which colours to buy and what suits them. When you wear colours which work for you, you look more confident and this is what I try and achieve with every client – it’s a great job to do, making sure everyone leaves happy.”

Gina is now making the most of Chamber Membership and is attending networking events and using all the Chamber Member Benefits available to her.

 “I’ve found the Chamber Membership really useful for networking and getting support from other businesses, and for helping me find out about everything going on in the area. I’ve recently run a style and confidence workshop with Sandra Edwards Consulting who I met through the Chamber.

“My Start Up adviser Steve encouraged me to start going to the business breakfast when I launched and I’ve made some great connections in a short time, thanks to my Chamber Membership.”

St Helens Chamber is part of Enterprise Hub, the enterprise gateway for business start-up support in Merseyside.  Offering expert advice and support to anyone thinking about starting a business, including help to:

• Understand the process of starting a business
• Research a business idea
• Build a comprehensive business plan
• Develop a marketing plan
• Create financial forecasts to understand the costs of running your business and potential income
• Identify sources of finance to get started

Enterprise Hub is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

If you’d like to know more about Gina’s work, visit or call on 07598 367 552

Friday, 1 May 2020

JourneyMEN CIC - Making New Roads to Recovery!

With mental health being such an important issue, you’d be surprised to hear that it has been difficult to access mental health provision for men on Wirral – until now!  Phil Roberts has known this for some time and that is why he set up JourneyMEN CIC, to fulfill a need that was not being met.
However, it all started for Phil when he was working for the police.  It was during this time that he realised that many people he was dealing with day-in, day-out needed mental health support, not a night in the cells.  That was when he became aware there was brilliant support out there, just needing to be joined up and men guided towards it.

Phil Roberts

In 2018 Phil became part of Wirral’s Early Help Team.  From there, Phil started to engage with his contacts and organisations in the health support sector and drew these together under an early intervention “Mental Health Umbrella.”

Not being someone to hang around, Phil invited local organisations, professionals and potential beneficiaries to an ‘Open Day’ and the response was overwhelming. One of those was the Neo Community CafĂ© who offered Phil premises on Chester Street, Birkenhead.  The need was clearly there, the integrated support required was identified and JourneyMEN CIC was born.

So, what does JourneyMEN CIC do?  It is aimed at local men in need of mental health support and involves a ‘Journey Plan’ tailored to each person. This plan goes from initial assessment, ongoing support such as counselling, training and social interaction, right through to helping men become job-ready, be able to volunteer, or upskill with further training.  

Phil is particularly proud of the narrow boat which allows for a ‘floating counselling’ facility.  The guys can have a relaxing trip up the canal, meet new people, get trained and even gain an accredited qualification to become a skipper!
Phil is all about community and he is seeking to develop JourneyMEN CIC further.  For example, Phil is developing a ‘Man Cave’ – a safe space - where there’ll be the opportunity for men to network with others with similar issues, partake in various fun activities and ‘get out of the house.’  This will need money, so Phil will be exploring what funding might be available.

And what has Phil learned after being on his own ‘journey?’ 

“One important piece of advice is to surround yourself with the right people as you cannot do everything yourself no matter how good you think you are!  And do not struggle as there is a lot of help out there and you will learn from your mistakes. The Enterprise Hub and Community Action Wirral are worth their weight in gold so get in touch with them!  Both Paul and Zel worked together to give me the belief to go forward, and without their help, JourneyMEN CIC would not have happened.”

To find out more about JourneyMEN CIC or if you are a man with mental health issues needing support, you can contact Phil on 0151 792 9159 or e-mail or visit

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Pioneering care centre adapts to maintain valuable support for communities

A centre offering valuable support for families looking after relatives with dementia has revised its services following the coronavirus outbreak.

Me2U Team

The Me2U Centre opened in Kirkby, North Liverpool, in April 2018, and provides a range of services to help those with dementia maintain their independence and remain in their own home environments in the care of their families for longer.

It can also provide respite, giving carers the opportunity to attend to normal home and family routines, safe in the knowledge that their loved ones are in expert hands, as well as advice and support for care givers.

However, following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and the introduction of social distancing measures, the centre has had to drastically revise its operations. It applied to care watchdog the CQC and is looking at adapting the business to become an emergency crisis facility, with six hospital beds available for high risk dementia patients.

This will provide specialist care for dementia patients, while freeing up vital capacity within the NHS for coronavirus patients. Following the switch, the centre, under the guidance of founder Rosie Whittington, is also offering emergency back-up such as a crisis phone line, a shopping service, and a prescription pick-up service for its 60 clients.

Mum of four Rosie is a former mental health nurse with Merseycare, where she supported people living with dementia, their families and carers.

During this time, she realised there was a need to extend support and ensure that dementia care ‘did not stop on a Friday’ due to more and more day care centres closing, through government cuts. She said: “Families were able to go to work, function, have respite, and then care for their love ones of an evening because they were able to balance, so to speak.”

She was inspired to set up her own business due to her passion for caring for people with dementia and to fill the gaps in this sector.

Having remortgaged her own home, and with the help of her best friend Angela she was able to open the Me2U Centre, which was initially chronically under-funded.

Rosie worked seven days a week for two years – doing five on early shifts as a mental health nurse and weekends in the Me2U Centre – to get the service up and running.

It meant she was unable to take a wage, herself, but she explained: “I’ve found my calling in life – I’ve been put on this earth to serve and I want to help as many people as I can who have been affected with dementia, that’s what I’m here for.”

With just an idea in mind, she was offered the support of The Women’s Organisation, the Liverpool-based social enterprise dedicated to helping small business start-ups throughout the Liverpool City Region.

She was enrolled on 1-2-1 support and group training sessions where she was able to create her own business plan to take the Me2U Centre forward.

Jo Mountfort, Programme Manager and Rosie’s Business Adviser at The Women’s Organisation said: “‘Working with Rosie, Angela, and the team is a pleasure. I have found it inspiring that in a time of crisis, people are working tirelessly to flip their business model with a genuine passion to support the vulnerable people in the community and their loved ones.”

Last year the Me2U Centre won the ‘Health & Wellbeing Business of the Year’ category of The Women’s Organisation’s Enterprising Women’s Awards 2018.

The value of the service the centre provides was emphasised in an independently produced report by EQE Health.

It stated: “The Me2U Centre provides main carers respite and peace of mind that their loved ones are being supported in a safe environment.

And it said: “Despite the Me2U Centre only being open for a very short space of time, it has achieved the four elements of what defines person-centred care.

“These elements are:

  • Valuing people with dementia and those who care for them
  • Treating people as individuals
  • Looking at the world from the perspective of the person with dementia
  • A positive social environment in which the person living with dementia can experience relative wellbeing

When lockdown is lifted Rosie said she plans to enhance the centre’s services, including keeping the crisis line, and is even considering the purchase of a bungalow to convert to assisted living and respite care.

She said: “I’ve got a fantastic team – I’m the face of Me2u, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the people I’ve got around me. They are so loyal and adaptable.”

You can find out more information about the Me2U Centre over on their website, Facebook & Instagram

For more information about the support available to help start or grow or adapt your new business through Enterprise Hub, please contact 

Best Way to Start a Business in a Pandemic? Ready, Set Go!

If you are wondering if starting a new business in the current climate is the right thing to do, Martine Gibson from ReadySetGo Success and Wellbeing's story is one for you to read.
With a gutsy determination and passion for the service she provides, she decided that there was no time like the present! As an integrative counsellor and life coach she feels that her services are needed now more than ever, and in these uncertain times that have seen an increase in mental health issues – particularly stress, anxiety and depression – she is determined to be there to support whoever and however she can.
Martine knows first-hand how easy it is to get stuck in a rut and end up down a path that you don’t want to be on.  But unlike most, she recognised where she was heading, didn’t like what she saw and took brave and drastic steps to turn her life around. As a single mum with a secure income, she took the decision to leave her job and go back to college to embark on a four-year journey to become something that she had always wanted to be......a person that empowers other people to become the best possible version of themselves.
Growing up with an older sibling who suffered with mental health issues, Martine witnessed the frustrations, devastation and challenges that are involved with mental health support.  It was this experience that set her heart and mind on helping people. She wanted to show people that they were amazing and strong, that they could do anything that they put their minds to and that someone believed in them.  She firmly believes that “no matter who you are, where you come from, how bad a start in life you have had, or what you are going through, anything is possible and dreams can be achieved”.
When asked if she had any wisdom or advice to people wanting to start their own business, Martine replied “My advice is simple, if you have a dream go for it!  No matter what obstacles are in your way, push through them, find a way to make it work. I was a penniless single mother, living away from my family and did not have a clue how to get here but what I did do was take the first step”.
Of her support from the Enterprise Hub, Martine said, “The support from the Enterprise Hub was an absolute blessing.  They supported me to shape my business plan, were there whenever I needed them (face to face and via email), provided me with lots of information and advice as well as being my sounding board.   The Enterprise Hub gave me access to training and all the resources I needed in order to set my business up and best of all it was FREE!  Heidi and the Enterprise Hub were instrumental in the setting up of my business and I shall be eternally grateful”.
ReadySetGo Success and Wellbeing is now up and running and available to anyone who needs mental and wellbeing support, both in the current climate and beyond. She has adapted her services to be able to provide online support and has introduced wellbeing check-ins to be able to help people on a one-off basis as opposed to her normal six-session packages. She is also currently offering FREE wellbeing sessions to any key or frontline workers.
For more information about Martine and her business ReadySetGo Success and Wellbeing
Instagram: r_s_g_2020
Facebook: Readysetgo Success and Wellbeing  

Friday, 24 April 2020

Enterprise Hub: The Double Negative in Conversation

People say that Shakespeare wrote King Lear during the Plague, but how easy is it to create, write and produce during a global pandemic?  

The Double Negative explores what led them to their own arts criticism & cultural online publication and how freelancers can flourish in unprecedented times. 

The publication brings together contemporary arts and culture, journalism, blogging, and knowledge on independent art spaces, holding up a mirror to the UK arts scene. They successfully support and publish over 500 contributors who have gone on to write for Vice, The Guardian, and The Art Review. 

Join Mike Pinnington and Laura Robertson as they dissect what has made the Double Negative successful and examine why just because ‘it’s end of the world as we know it’ doesn’t mean it’s not a new beginning for something new and radical. 

At the end of the event there will be a chance to sign up with Enterprise Hub, a project that gets you free business advice at any stage of your career.

More about the speakers

Laura Robertson is a writer, critic and editor based in Liverpool. A reviewer of contemporary arts and culture for international magazines (including Frieze, Hyperallergic, Art Monthly, ArtReview, a-n), and broadcast (BBC Four Front Row), she is also co-founder and contributing editor at The Double Negative online magazine; an MA Writing student at the Royal College of Art; critical writer-in-residence at Open Eye Gallery; and a former director of The Royal Standard Gallery & Studios. She has edited and contributed writing to two new books in 2019: 'Present Tense', which comments on current tensions in the fields of art and culture; and ‘NOIT — 5: bodies as in buildings’, made on residency at Flat Time House, London. 
TW: @doublenegativeL

Mike Pinnington is a writer, editor and consultant based in Liverpool. He is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of visual arts and cultural commentary publication The Double Negative. He co-edited and contributed to Present Tense (2019), a book of essays reflecting on the decade since Liverpool’s Capital of Culture Award. His writing has also appeared in The Art Newspaper, Art Quarterly, Art Review, Ocula and byNWR, amongst others. From 2013-18 he was Content Editor at Tate Liverpool where, working with the Exhibitions and Media & Audiences teams, he produced exhibition guides and catalogues, gallery interpretation, web content, and in-house publication, Compass. 

Writing on the Wall is a dynamic, Liverpool-based community organisation that coordinates projects and events that celebrate writing in all its forms. We work with a broad and inclusive definition of writing that embraces literature, creative writing, journalism and non-fiction, poetry, songwriting, and storytelling. Writing on the Wall works with local, national and international writers whose work provokes controversy and debate. We work with all of Liverpool’s communities to promote and celebrate individual and collective creativity.

Date: Weds 29th April, 1-2PM 
Tickets: Free, book place via Eventbrite here

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Business Resilience Support for SMEs

  • Are you a business with over £1m turnover and 10 employees?
  • Are you facing challenges within your business related to COVID-19?
  • Do you need focused help to work through options and design your future strategy?

Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LCR LEP) via Growth Platform, working closely with BEIS, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Local Authorities, other partners in the City Region, is looking to enhance the current business support available to business to include Business Resilience relating to COVID-19.
In order to respond to the economic challenges our City Region businesses are facing, we have extended our contract with BDO LLP to continue to deliver a pro-active programme of engagement, advice and support with SMEs across Liverpool City Region over the next 4 weeks focusing primarily on COVID-19 related issues.
The aim of this work is to ensure that businesses across Liverpool City Region have access to professional advisory support to aid them through the challenges they are facing due to COVID-19.

Services will include:
  • Professional Advisory support available to businesses with turnover between £1m and £45m, with at least 10 employees, who are facing challenges surrounding COVID-19.
  • A series of webinars will also be provided as part of the service and will be published for all businesses on our website and through social media.
  • and more!

N.B – Please note this service is free to eligible SMEs.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Create whilst you isolate.

The following is a guest blog from Catherine Rogers – Cut Out Collage

Whether you’re an art scene regular, a curious creative or stuck at home looking for things to do, making art during this period of isolation is a sure-fire way to positively impact your mental wellbeing and escape the worldwide conversation of these strange times!

Hi, I’m Catherine, the founder of Cut Out Collage. Before everything changed, I was running creative workshops across Liverpool, giving artist talks, exhibiting alongside collectives and selling original artworks at markets and events, so this current climate has had a huge impact on my business. Despite the curveball I’m committed to focusing on adaptation and how I can creatively respond to the current crisis. So, I’m going to share with my top tips for staying motivated amongst the mayhem.

Artists are still working, we’re just online

Art has not ceased, just the physical places we congregate and share it are closed. Creativity is very much alive in people’s homes, minds and spirits. Therefore, there is a ton you can still get involved with. I would suggest following local and international artists on social media so the content you are browsing each day can motivate and inspire you. I find new and exciting creatives everyday who are hosting online chats, workshops, all kinds of creative spaces and offerings. Following artists can feed your soul and help you discover things you may want to try at home.

Get making, keep making

Don’t know where to start, why not start a sketchbook? What an amazing time to experiment in this way. You can buy one online or use a spare notepad you may already have at home and give it a new lease of life.

Sketchbooks are great for scribbling down ideas, cutting and pasting old magazines into, sketching your garden or your family or to capture your work as you follow online tutorials. Also, when normality returns you will have a record of your creativity and productivity to show for it!  Who knows you may get hooked on sketch booking – it’s the best!

Share your masterpieces, inspire others

Artworks can have a huge impact upon those who view them. Never underestimate the transformational power of making art and sharing it with other people. The offering of something you have created to another person can have a profound effect on their day, so if you make something that lifts your spirits, let someone else be lifted by it to! I am loving the art being sent to my inbox, its inspiring and lets me know people are thinking of me, very encouraging indeed.

Support one another and say thank you

If people share images that move you and or you enjoy in some way, comment on them, let people know that their work has encouraged you. This wave of paying encouragement forward is hugely impactful, it can create a chain reaction of kindness from such a small gesture.

For me and my business, I want to say thank you to the Women’s Organisation and The Common Zine. I want to thank them for believing in my dreams, even before I completely did. They have encouraged me every step of the way and I have taken leaps I likely would not have if it hadn’t been for their support. If confidence is your barrier, I couldn’t recommend them both enough.

Join the Collage Revolution

Obviously, I’m a little bias about this one, but if you’re unsure about where to start I couldn’t recommend collage highly enough. I release weekly Cut Out Collage bitesize workshops on our YouTube channel and top tip videos on a Tuesday! It’s a new platform for Cut Out Collage, so we’re all in it together and learning as we go. There are also collage packs available on our Etsy store, so you have plenty of images to work with!

Thank you Catherine! If you would like to find out more about Cut Out Collage you can find them on: