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Alexandra Has Career All Sewn Up

One Ark’s ‘Nurture and Grow’ project is helping to tackle worklessness within Liverpool – whilst also supporting the growth of small start-up businesses.

Delivered by Fusion21, the £77,978 project has received a £57,356 social dividend from the social enterprise – in addition to a £20,622 investment from Fusion21 member One Ark.

The scheme offers 10 unemployed residents the chance to secure a six-month paid placement with a business based in the Liverpool City region – and offers mentoring support to the successful candidate to help enhance and learn new skills.

In addition, the selected organisations are provided with further business guidance if required – ranging from support to put business policies and procedures in place, to assistance with employing and managing staff.

To date, nine residents have accessed opportunities, with three going on to secure permanent work at the end of funding support.

Budding seamstress, 24-year-old Alexandra Meade from Fazkerley says the ‘Nurture and Grow’ programme has changed her life:

“When I heard about the scheme – and saw that a local tailor and dressmaker were looking for a placement candidate, I couldn’t believe it!”

“I contacted Revolver Retail straight away for an interview – and was ecstatic to be offered the role with a regular income. Having been taught how to sew since I was 19, I had been working part-time trying to run my own dress-making business at home. I didn’t have any business skills, and I wanted to learn how to develop myself further – I certainly couldn’t afford to have my own shop.”

Revolver Retail is a unique vintage retail outlet, housing 50 small businesses under one roof in Bold Street, Liverpool. Businesses – selling clothing, jewellery lines and much more – rent a retail space, and receive staffing and stock support for their management fee – in addition to a customer tailoring service if required by customers.

Getting stuck in to her new environment, Alexandra’s placement saw her take on responsibilities including: an alterations and in-store tailoring service, helping out on the shop floor, interacting with customers, and attending meetings.

Alexandra said: “In addition to gaining experience in a business environment, I’ve learnt about how to grow and develop a business – including how to merchandise and market your brand. This opportunity has made a massive difference to my confidence – being offered a permanent job here after finishing my placement has been a dream come true.”

Matt Bell, Manager at Revolver Retail added: “The funding we have received through the ‘Nurture and Grow’ project has been incredible – helping us to push our business forward. Being able to select a candidate enabled us to choose someone who we could develop and was suited to us – Alexandra has been a perfect fit!

“We could never have afforded to train and pay another employee at the beginning of the year, but the business is now moving at least six months ahead of schedule, and that’s why we have been able to offer her a full-time role as Designer and In-store Tailor.

“Recently Alexandra has taken on even more responsibilities – providing a made to measure service from scratch, and even up-cycling clothing. She is now training other staff members and is also managing stock – we have been so impressed by her organisation skills and willingness to learn. I can’t thank the ‘Nurture and Grow’ programme enough.”

The experience has been made even sweeter for Alexandra, as in addition to being a full time employee of Revolver Retail, she also now rents a space within the store and has the clothing she makes on sale.

Alexandra added: “It’s fantastic to see people buying my clothes – and I’m also able to use the space to make my own clothes on my days off. I’m so lucky to have this opportunity and I feel like my career is really taking off – I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”