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East Lancashire Women's Centre gets creative for fund-raising project
WOMEN rebuilding their lives are turning to social media to get a new business venture off the ground.
East Lancashire Women’s Centre (ELWC) is one of just 10 charities in England taking part in the Crowdfunding Challenge – aiming to raise £8,000 by the end of November, to launch a small business.
ReWorked will see up to 40 women learning craft and business skills, while using waste materials to make unique craft and jewellery products at ELWC’s three centres in Accrington, Blackburn and Burnley.
The business will not only provide training, qualifications and practical support, but also aims to inspire the women, giving some the confidence to return to work or set up on their own.
One of the women already looking forward to the business launch is Kaye Mather, 28, from Burnley.
After having a breakdown – brought on by the long-held grief over her father’s death during her teens which led to her becoming her arthritic mother’s carer, redundancy and the break-up of a relationship – she found out about craft sessions at ELWC’s Burnley office, which opened in March, through the Job Centre.
“After being not very well for two years, I was just starting to look to get out again, and to find somewhere safe so I could start going out again,” she said.
“I initially learned beadwork and embroidery, and with the basic skills the tutor lets you go off on your own creative tangent.
“It has brought my confidence back, makes you want to get up in the morning.”
The Crowdfunding Challenge, backed by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the social media platform Buzzbnk, pits the charities taking part to boost their social media profile – by gaining ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on Facebook and followers on Twitter – while encouraging small donations from their online audience.
Among those already backing ELWC is Hyndburn MP Graham Jones, and the group has hit its first goal of 10 per cent of the £8,000 target.
ELWC fundraising manager Liz Islam said the use of social media was already paying dividends. “ReWorked is a really exciting opportunity to provide practical skills for the women we work with, which will help them in their future lives, whether that is going back to work, setting up their own business or simply giving them the confidence to try new things,” she said.
“It’s the sort of initiative that people really get behind because the benefits are clear, and we’ve been delighted with the support we’ve received in just the first two weeks since launching the fundraising bid.
“What’s great about the Crowdfunding Challenge is not only that people are donating towards the £8,000 total, but that we’re raising awareness of the ReWorked project and ELWC in general.
“From sharing a few stories on Facebook and Twitter with our friends and colleagues, we’ve had more than 150 new people ‘like’ our page – becoming engaged with what the charity is doing.
“And it’s not just financial donations, through these networks we’ve discovered people with different skills and talents who have offered their time and expertise to the project which will prove invaluable as the scheme progresses.”
Six months on from her first craft course, Kaye is now ready for the next step in her recovery, and is looking forward to ReWorked getting off the ground.
“I’m at the stage now where I would like to do some voluntary work, and this sounds perfect,” she said. “Being able to use the Women’s Centre, and now to be able to help it and other women in a similar situation would be great.
“I was always interested in arts and crafts, but never had the time to keep it up – now I’ve redeveloped my talents and have been thinking about starting a business, but didn’t have a clue where to start.
“It’s almost as though they’ve picked my brain to find exactly what I needed and when. If I can get to the stage where I can start my own business, I would be over the moon and couldn’t thank ELWC enough.”
n To support ReWorked and the fundraising appeal visit www. buzzbnk.org/reworked or www.womenscentres.org. Follow the Crowdfunding Challenge and ELWC on Twitter at @WomensCentred or find them on Facebook at East Lancashire Women’s Centres.
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