PRESS RELEASE. A Newcastle Charity has been backed by two national funders to continue to help local women transform their own lives, and improve life for their families and communities, through enterprise.

Grant awards from the Big Lottery Community Fund and the Royal Bank of Scotland’s ‘Inspiring Enterprise’ programme totalling over £400,000 have been made to Local Women Local Enterprise, providing the funds needed by the Charity to secure its future for the next 3 years.  The Charity has already supported hundreds women in Benwell, one of the most deprived areas in the UK, through an earlier pilot, and will now go on to extend its services across Newcastle, providing accredited training in every aspect of setting up a business.

Amidst claims last month by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith MP that welfare reforms are reviving entrepreneurial spirit, Sarah Miller, Chief Executive of the Charity running the project, claims that although setting up a business does offer a genuine route out of employment, significant work needs to be done in communities facing deprivation before people take steps into enterprise.  “Some of the women we meet are ready, willing and able to get started in their own business, and we can provide a safe environment for them to build their skills and confidence to get going.  In other cases women are facing huge barriers to achieving economic independence and this is where our work within the local community really comes to the fore.  By supporting women across all aspects of their lives we can help them to build the confidence, the know-how and the ideas to achieve things through enterprise that even they didn’t think possible at the outset.”

She argues that for many women a far deeper level of engagement is needed than most business support organisations are able to provide, and in the face of ongoing cuts to Charity funding, the gap is set to widen. “The funding that we’ve gained with the help of the Big Lottery and RBS will make a real difference to the lives of women in Newcastle.  Not only can we continue the work we’ve successfully piloted, but we can also secure the long-term sustainability of Local Women Local Enterprise by developing a cluster of community businesses which will provide a training ground for budding women entrepreneurs, as well as a source of income to invest in the women that need most help.”

The Local Women Local Enterprise project is run by The Millin Charity at the Millin Community Centre in Benwell at present, but with the help of the Big Lottery and RBS the Charity is planning to extend its work out to other areas of Newcastle.   Chief Executive Sarah Miller explains that despite their expansion their work will continue to have a very local focus. “By blending the needs of each woman with the resources and support available in their own community we are able to use enterprise to achieve genuine social change for women, their families and their communities as a whole.  A lighter touch approach to providing purely enterprise skills would have little impact.”

A new programme of accredited enterprise training for women will be launched by Local Women Local Enterprise in September, and with their track record in the community the Charity expects demand to be high.  To find out more about the Local Women Local Enterprise project go to www.themillincharity.co.uk or contact The Millin Charity on 0191 272 5115