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Individual Skills For Collective Good


By gatewaycollective, Sep 14 2014 02:37PM

14th September 2014

So is 6 months since the last blog a long time?! I thought I was getting better at blogging but apparently not!

The headlines of the last 6 months to catch you up ...

Our journey with SSE is nearly up. (At the risk of sounding like my granny seriously where does the time go?!) I have learnt so much in the last year and met some truly inspirational people. It is so good to know that there are a group of passionate, committed entrepreneurs in Liverpool who are changing their spaces and communities for good. And if you haven't visited places like 'The Brink' then you really need to! Before starting SSE I knew I was meant to go forward with Gateway but didn't have a clue how. I still have loads of questions and days when I want to give up, eat cake and hide under the duvet but these days are less and less. I have more of a clue about marketing, how to keep an eye on income and expenditure and time management. But probably the biggest personal learning is that I only have to be me - which is good as it's exhausting trying to be someone else! I would look at other people on SSE and compare myself to them thinking they had it all together and I had somehow sneaked into the world of social entrepreneurship by the back door. As a result I would get stressed, set massive goals for myself which of course I couldn't reach. My Mentor and Action Learning Set were great in helping me to get over this and give myself permission to chill out. And it was when I chilled out the things began to happen.

We now have a community garden in North Park in Bootle! Well actually we have a patch of grass but soon it will be a community garden! In partnership with Ykids Bootle we will be creating a brand new community garden in North Park for local people and groups to access, learn about growing and get fresh, organic fruit and veg. We will also be using the site to grow produce that can be used in our chutneys - win win! We are now applying for funding to create our growing paradise and with £500 already in the bank from the local ACE fund things are looking good! We wanted more growing space and were praying about it and ended up with 2 gardens. As well as North Park we are working in the Hawthorne's Free School on their quad garden. Again this is in partnership with Ykids (a perk of being employed by them!). We are working with students to teach them the joy of growing your own and any surplus we will be using in our chutneys. Happy Days! I can't wait till Spring :)

The Gateway Collective is now a Community Interest Company - yippee!!! Our official title is The Gateway Collective C.I.C. This means we are registered with Companies House, need to produce annual accounts and are officially recognised as a company with social aims. It feels good to be official!

Probably the thing I am most excited about though is a potential link with Hugh Baird College in Bootle. We have strong links to Northfield Community Church which will be used as a venue for community learning for non-European women attending the college to learn English. The college are keen for the women to work with us too in the garden and in making and producing our products. This is exciting and something we will be moving forward with.

We still regularly attend Prescot Market as well as other 'one-offs'. There are people who come to us to chat and tell us what's going on for them and we love to build relationships and hopefully make people smile. A man in his 60's last week made us smile by announcing he used to be an internationally renowned pole dancer in a gold thong costume ... I am assuming he was joking but can't be 100% sure! People in all their randomness and quirks are great!

Jan and I both feel that God is with us on our journey and opening doors for us ... The gardens and the link with Hugh Baird happened within a few weeks of each other without us doing anything! While writing this blog I've got a Bible verse in my head 'but the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.' We want to show these attributes in our work with people and everyone we come into contact with. We're up for seeing Bootle turned into a place characterised by love, joy, peace, kindness and goodness ... Who's in?'

The Gateway Collective at Prescot Market with one of our valued customers
The Gateway Collective at Prescot Market with one of our valued customers

By gatewaycollective, Aug 24 2014 08:49PM

Well it’s been 3 days since our first ‘proper’ market. I would have blogged earlier but it’s taken me this long to thaw out! We obediently arrived in Prescot at 8am (like the letter said we had to). That was our first mistake. No-one else arrived till 9am, we could have had an extra hour in bed! (note to self- next time ignore the letter) We set the stall up, made sure everything was labelled correctly and had a bacon butty. Things were initially looking positive. The market was on the high street so we anticipated a decent footfall and we were placed right next to the Liverpool Cheese Company which surely had to be complimentary. We made about £20 in the first hour, even making a sale while we were still setting up. Then the rain started. Well I can’t even say it was rain, more like ice falling from the sky. It was so cold. The ground instantly became an ice rink. At one point I had to just let a man take his change from my money pot as my hands were too cold to give it to him! Precot is hardly chutney capital of the North West as the best of times but on Saturday no one was interested. We made £32.50 all day – ‘all day’ ended at 1pm as we were too cold to stay till the official end time of 2pm. The highlight of the day was an old mans trousers falling down while he was looking at the pie stall- and then not noticing for 30 seconds. Seriously! Not noticing your trousers are round your ankles for 30 seconds in sub-artic temperatures seems a little extreme to me. He probably wanted to show off his rather large used-to-be-white-but-now-they’re-grey pants to cheer us up. Well it worked. Jan and I laughed for 20 minutes over that. (it was probably hysteria due to cold induced temporary insanity)

Anyway needless to say it wasn’t the triumph hoped for. The good thing was that everyone who tried our products bought but I think we’re gonna need more than £32.50 to change the world! Anyway we will still carry on and have faith that this is the right thing. We’ve got a few different markets to try & the red onion marmalade is selling well. We need to get on with getting a website, Facebook page, twitter feed etc and we need to develop our Gateway Collective crafts lines. But there is only so much you can do when working full-time as well so for now we’ll carry on taking one step at a time whilst giggling about a man whose trousers fell down. :)

By gatewaycollective, Aug 24 2014 08:38PM

Been a troublesome week at chutney empire HQ! We’re booked on to do our first non-Christmas farmers market on Saturday. We had a great idea about going with ‘Gateway Collective Food’ – chutney, pickles, jams, chocolate and fudge. We planned the type of handmade chocolates we would make and bought the things needed to make chocolate lollipops. Then the market organisers said we couldn’t go with chocolate as they have existing providers. “What about fudge?” “No. But we’re really keen on chutneys and jams.”. Hmmmmm that gave me 6 days to make about 50 jars. Not impossible but it would be a challenge, especially as my normal day off in work had been cancelled due to a request to meet with my boss.

So Jan put her craft making stuff down, picked up a pinny & came to help! The chilli jam and beetroot relish worked well but tonight I’ve had a nightmare with my tangy marmalade :( it just won’t set! I’ve re-boiled, added more pectin and then jarred it up hopefully, however I suspect in the morning it will be marmalade goo. To top it all today I found out that we need to be on the market for between 7-8am on Saturday. I will repeat; 7-8am ON A SATURDAY!! Now that’s dedication to the cause!

Anyway Rome wasn’t built in a day, all empire building will experience difficulties and I’ll keep smiling. Time to put it all aside and go watch Match of the Day and enjoy the mighty reds give Wolves a 3-0 hiding. You never know when I wake up tomorrow the marmalade may have miraculously set. If not, anyone for Marmalade goo?