Visit to WEvolution by Scottish Women in Business

Visit to WEvolution by Scottish Women in Business, Vice-President Laura McKinnon

Laura McKinnon visited WEvolution (their charity of the year) in Greenock recently. Here’s her report on her visit:

“I visited WEvolution in Greenock today and was welcomed with open arms and a cup of hot coffee. Their hub is in the local church in Greenock – there are lots of interesting young women, and a couple of young men too, who regularly attend. The hub is open between 10am and 2pm on a Friday and people come and go depending on their schedule and family commitments. I was impressed with the enthusiasm of the individuals in the group and their strength of character.Each business idea is from a member and they are encouraged and supported by advisers who assist with finding funding, general business advice etc.

Some members have been unable to work due to health issues, have suffered long-term illness or from post-natal depression. They attend for the social aspect, a cup of tea and a chat with other young women, and bring along their babies and children to enable them too to interact and play with one another with the toys and on the chute, Even those that just come along to chat, join in and help support those that are more hands-on and creative. There is a distinct feel of community, harking back to the old days when everyone lived near family and where you could borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbour.

There are approximately 8 groups at present in Greenock with more in the pipeline. I was privileged to be invited to hear plans of one of the new-start groups, but they are top secret for now and so I am unable to share details! They will no doubt be up and running shortly and joining the other businesses in the hub. Further hubs are located in Glasgow and Dundee. SWIB member Julie Hall has stated that the aim is to have 30 groups throughout Scotland by March this year. If this hub is anything to go by, that will be easily achievable.One of the groups, 5 Mummies Make, has a variety of products including framed statement prints that can be made to order, amazing crochet items, not just blankets and scarves, but beautiful outfits and wee tiny baby sandals and shoes which I fell in love with. They also make unusual style cards on a bespoke basis.

Rainbow Creations does tie-dyeing – they can tie-dye just about anything in an array of gorgeous colours but they specialise in T-shirts and trainers which look fab. And who would have thought that sock monkeys would take over the world? Their creator Adele makes these gorgeous monkeys from quirky and zany hand-picked socks. Each monkey has its own individual character and they have found their way all over the world, to India, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and New York. How many businesses can claim to have sold their product worldwide?Another group makes pictures with characters with buttons for heads and Barrhead Hockey Club were so impressed, they placed an order for 100 pictures. It just goes to show that, given the right market place; these items can sell and make money for WEvolution groups.

There are all types of groups based in Inverclyde and they are not all creative. There are social groups too. One of these is called Your Voice Council which is a group for those recovering from addiction, the over 65’s and people suffering from depression. One of their members, Stephen, played the piano whilst I was there – he plays by ear and it was so good to hear live music.Another new group called Hart (where the ‘A’ is an upside-down heart) was set up to raise awareness of autism. Nicola Sturgeon was very impressed when she met them recently and is going to introduce her Ministers to the group to help promote and raise awareness of autism.All in all, it was a very interesting and informative day. After meeting WEvolution and the people involved in it, I look forward to working with other SWIB members in helping our chosen charity in any way we can.”