As we get set to draw 2022 to a close, we look back over what has been a trying twelve months for our service users and communities.
2022 was a year that presented a plethora of challenges in terms of women’s rights, women’s health and wellbeing, and women’s personal and financial security.
However, out of adversity comes opportunity and our clients and small businesses have exhibited extraordinary resilience, ingenuity, and entrepreneurial spirit.
The successful launch of the inaugural WO Business Academy offered an opportunity for women living in the Liverpool City Region to earn as they learn.
Comprising a comprehensive four-week-long programme of support and advice, individuals can benefit from self-development workshops, business training, and 1-2-1 mentoring with experienced business advisors.
Covering everything from confidence and resilience to finance planning, pitching and presentation skills, and marketing, The WO Business Academy provides a “safe and collaborative” environment to learn and grow alongside other, like-minded women.
Following the success of our pilot scheme in September, we welcomed a second cohort in November. More than 20 women enrolled in The WO Business Academy, with 18 benefitting from the graduation grant.
Business advisor and lead at The WO Business Academy, Carole Sheppard, said “A group of women from all walks of life who started out as strangers, have ended up as friends and colleagues, who care about each other’s futures and support one another’s goals.
“I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.”
The Women’s Organisation has been working hard with a range of policymakers and partners throughout the year to adopt and implement new ways to work to support and improve women’s economic development and inclusion.
Just this month, it was announced that The Women’s Organisation would be one of four partners in the Northwest to support women’s health in the workplace through the Health and Wellbeing Fund.
The theme of the fund for 2022 to 2025 is women’s reproductive wellbeing in the workplace. The Women’s Organisation will be responsible for overseeing the development and rollout of a health support package targeting small and medium enterprise employers in England.
Head of Business Advice Plus, Sophia Kennedy, says: “Working with women and employers presents huge opportunities to positively transform women’s working lives.
“It will help employers to put in place the right type of support at the right time. This will help attract and retain more women in the workplace and measurably improve their wellbeing.”
In May, we picked up the award for best Customer Focused Business at the Liverpool Echo Regional Business Awards; and our chief executive, Maggie O’Carroll, was named Business Person of the Year.
Maggie was also awarded Public and Third Sector Leader at the Northern Leadership Awards that same month, and in July was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at The Merseyside Women of the Year Awards.
And, earlier this month, we were named Education, Training & Jobs Social Enterprise of the Year at the UK Social Enterprise Awards.
Chief executive, Maggie O’Carroll, called this “incredibly humbling” and said it was a “testament to the hard work and dedication of the extraordinary team at The Women’s Organisation – who have, like all our friends in the social enterprise sector, truly triumphed in the face of adversity”.
Just last month, our international consultants, Lisa McMullan and Alison Price, were awarded Champions at the EntreComp Awards.
The Champions Award recognises the ‘best and brightest in the sphere of entrepreneurial learning’ – and shines a spotlight on individuals and organisations who are implementing practice or policy that is transformative – creating change beyond their immediate work environment.
On being involved in the EntreComp project, Lisa McMullan said: “To have had the opportunity to form partnerships, share ideas, and exchange knowledge with organisations who share our mindset, and our vision has been invaluable – and incredibly rewarding and enlightening.”
A sombre but successful year
Reflecting on what she calls a “sombre, but successful year” for the organisation, chief executive, Maggie O’Carroll, says: “2022 has unquestionably been a tumultuous year for women, and we thank all our partners and stakeholders who have rallied to respond to every challenge and ensure that we continue to provide a safe space for women to learn, train and develop when they need it most.
“Our many trusted, experienced and esteemed partners too, whose insight and involvement are critical to the work we do – advocating and supporting women from every corner of our community and our combined efforts have enabled us to deliver training to more than 1,500 women in the North West over the course of the year, support the launch of almost 200 start-up businesses and help around 800 more to recover, refocus and grow.
“The year may be coming to an end but the need and the work are not. There is so much more to be done to bring about a fair and equitable society, where women can thrive and prosper So, we look ahead, not necessarily with optimism, but with hopefulness, to a better, brighter 2023.”
We look forward to helping even more women living in the Liverpool City Region in 2023.