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Amidst the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, The Growing Club CIC – Lancaster’s business and skills training organisation – continues to push forward with more Autumn start dates for business support courses and skills training for women in Lancashire and across the UK.

Supported by The National Lottery Community Fund, Boost Lancashire, Lancaster City Council, Rosa Fund and the Workers’ Educational Association, The Growing Club is now able to deliver more training and courses to support women in business throughout COVID-19 and beyond.

After seven long months of delivering courses online via Zoom, The Growing Club has once again recommenced their face-to-face business training delivery last week, with a new session of their start-up programme, Roots and Shoots, helping women to begin their own business with support and skills training.

As a not-for-profit organisation, The Growing Club have adapted their training provisions to meet demand and accessibility throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, delivering courses online via Zoom. They noted that women were joining courses from all over the UK and beyond.

This has led to the popular business growth and sustainability programme, Bloom & Grow, being offered as an online course for the first time, starting this month.

Additionally, the organisation have been awarded a contract to deliver a fully funded, brand-new UK government initiative of peer-to-peer action learning and coaching for women running businesses or not-for-profits in Lancashire, who, up to the pandemic, had £100k+ turnover. This starts in mid-November.

Working in partnership with Lancaster City Council on the COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Initiative, The Growing Club is now offering a second Peer Mentoring training programme for women who run businesses in Lancaster, following the successful roll-out of the first course. The initiative sees women train as a mentor for other women in business, and they are also provided with their own trained business mentor for 12-months. This comprehensive training programme is fully funded for women who have been in business for at least three years.

During November, the fully funded Employment and Enterprise Skills Training courses will restart, in collaboration with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA). With high rates of unemployment looming, this training will benefit women who are deemed ‘economically inactive’, unwaged and looking for their ‘What next?’ work opportunity.

Jane Binnion, founding director and lead trainer at The Growing Club said: “We are delighted to return to our work, delivering a variety of training courses for women in business, especially during this worrying time of a pandemic. Our online training is a perfect learning solution for women who are interested in receiving business training in sustainable growth but are unable to travel to Lancaster.

“The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) published their Quarterly Labour Force Survey in May, finding that women and young people under 25 were more likely to be disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, predicting long-term economic consequences for these groups.

“Other statistics showed that women who were mothers and also self-employed, suffered a particularly difficult financial setback, with 74% seeing their earning potential diminished because of childcare issues such as lack of access, with 44% of self-employed mothers having to give up their childcare places during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve previously spoken about this issue, where we absolutely must place great weight on creating a level playing field for women. Extra financial support should be prioritised for women running small businesses, on a local and national recovery agenda, because these women have had the critical jobs of caring for and educating our children, caring for the elderly and running homes at the expense of their own businesses.

“We can no longer say we are planning for economic recovery without planning for economic equality.

“Our work at The Growing Club allows us to take positive action, supporting women to maintain focus on their skills and business during this difficult time.”

In addition to the newly-announced training courses, The Growing Club will continue to run monthly skills workshops and weekly drop-in sessions via Zoom. These include: Public Speaking: Find your voice  |  Finding your ideal customer

For all information and further quotes/interviews, please contact Jane Binnion, 01524 383846/07892 712417, jane@thegrowingclub.co.uk

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