Unemployed women or those facing redundancy are being offered a lifeline by Liverpool-based female enterprise agency The Women’s Organisation.

The award-winning agency has teamed up with Liverpool City Council to launch a new initiative to help women to either set up their own business or find a job.

The ‘Women’s Enterprise Programme’ is backed by European funding and aims to work with more than 300 women within the Liverpool city region.

The Women’s Organisation is offering a range of options to support women in to work – either on a self-employed basis or into a job. The help available includes courses on applying for jobs, standing out at interview, advice from a qualified business adviser about starting up a business and grants that are available and networking opportunities.

The initiative comes as recent unemployment figures revealed that women have been hit hardest in the recession with the numbers claiming Jobseekers Allowance more than doubling in the last five years in the Merseyside region.

Experts say women have been hit hardest by public sector cuts, which have disproportionately impacted on women due to the high numbers working in the sector.

Maggie O’Carroll, chief executive of The Women’s Organisation, said: “It is widely recognised that women have borne the brunt of the recession with many in the area either out of work or facing redundancy and are unsure of what to do next.

“We have the expertise to work with them on a one to one basis and provide support that is very much tailored to individual needs. We are delighted to be working with Liverpool City Council to able to provide this much-needed service and look forward to working with lots of women.”

Councillor Nick Small, Cabinet member for employment, enterprise and skills, said: “Giving people the help and support to get into work is one of our priorities and I am delighted that we have been able to team up with the Women’s Organisation for this important initiative.

“These are difficult times for everyone, but we know that women have been particularly hit hard and that is why it is absolutely vital that we do all we can to give them the help and support necessary to find new employment.”

The Women’s Enterprise Programme also enables The Women’s Organisation to work with staff facing redundancy within major organisations.

Women eligible to apply for the programme include those who are unemployed, economically inactive, working less than 16 hours a day or are under threat of redundancy.

Situated in the Baltic Triangle area of the city, the £5.3m Women’s International Centre for Economic Development provides a range of services focused on women’s start-up businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises.

As well as an international research and knowledge centre, the building also provides ‘incubation’ units for new and high growth women enterprises. The units are proving popular with more and more female entrepreneurs choosing to run their businesses from the centre.

To find out more about the programme or the other free services available from The Women’s Organisation, including advice and support on starting a business, call 0151 706 8111.

Alternatively please email info@thewo.org.uk or visit www.thewomensorganisation.org.uk

Caption: From left: Jackie Williams, enterprise director at The Women’s Organisation is pictured with Councillor Nick Small, Cabinet member for employment, enterprise and skills and Kim Griffiths, head of employment programmes at Liverpool City Council