Latest news from Well Skelmersdale

30.4.18 Well Skelmersdale launches the age of inspiration

Well Skelmersdale partners Paula Gamester and Maureen Fazal are inviting individuals over the age of 50 to join them at two events they are organising on Wednesday 16th May at Evermoor Hub Digmoor Skelmersdale from 1pm till 3.30pm and Tanhouse Community Centre on Thursday 24th May from 1pm till 3.30pm.

The events are free to attend thanks to ‘Building Better Opportunities’ (BBO) programme funding from the European Social Fund, the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund, and Lancashire County Council.

Paula explains “The ambition for Age of Inspiration is to “IGNITE”, “INSPIRE” and “CONNECT” our older people to the things that keep them well.

“We have an amazing afternoon in store for those attending, we will be using humour and laughter as a mechanism to turn your bad days into good days and have enlisted the help of local entertainers Paul McCoy and Dave Ashley. This is going to be an afternoon of inspiration, fun and laughter.”

Paula and Maureen (pictured right) firmly believe that there are assets and gifts out there in communities, and our job as good servants and as good leaders is to recognise those gifts in others, and help them put those gifts into action. Communities have never been built upon their deficiencies. Building communities has always depended on mobilising the capacity and assets of people and place.

Liz Tapner, CEO of Selnet, who leads Building Better Opportunities in Lancashire, said: “We are delighted to partner with two of Lancashire’s leading social innovators on this fantastic initiative and to celebrate the value of the contribution our older residents make.”

At the events there will be opportunities for participants to unlock:

  • The passions and interests that give them energy for change
  • Networks and connections including friendships and neighbourliness

Representatives of local community and voluntary associations will also attend, as well as having those from the public, private and third sector organisations that are available to support people. Download an information flyer for Evermoor and for Tanhouse.

Wellbeing is an integral part of the event programme. Paula and Maureen passionately believe that if you're not strong and resilient you cannot move forward. The New Economics Foundation Five Ways to Wellbeing, a set of evidence based practical things that participants can do to help stay strong and resilient, underpins the whole event. These are: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.

24.10.17 Calling all budding social entrepreneurs in West Lancashire!

The School of Social Entrepreneurs North West and Well Skelmersdale have teamed up to find talent on our doorstep and help social entrepreneurs reach their full potential.

The newly launched Skelmersdale Social Innovators Start Up Programme is now welcoming applications from people with ideas for a new social enterprise and/or a recently launched one that is already underway. A social enterprise is an organisation that helps people in need or the environment and makes its own money.

Paula Gamester, a well-regarded local social entrepreneur, fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs and part of the Well Skelmersdale vision, said:

“We are so pleased to be bringing the School for Social Entrepreneurs to Skelmersdale. Social enterprise is part of a global movement, it is a business model that makes profound impacts on communities by investing in people’s lives, this is what we want for Skelmersdale. The Social Innovators Start Up Programme not only offers critical support in the start-up stage, but also membership of the School for Social Entrepreneurs’ global alumni and ongoing support for a minimum of one year following the launch of the social business.”

The programme is aiming to identify 12 local people who have first-hand experiences of social issues and have an idea and the motivation to tackle them and help their local community. Those selected as part of the programme will join the Start Up Programme, inspiring them to unleash their vision. Ongoing support will be given to each social business as it takes flight.

The 12 month programme will offer a full spread of support including sessions on finance, governance, business planning, marketing and fundraising. There will also be the chance to hear first-hand from social entrepreneurs and their own journey, as well as site visits to both local and national social businesses.

Lisa Mairah, Head of the School of Social Entrepreneurs North West said:

“This is a major opportunity that will not only help to nurture the budding social entrepreneurs out there but in time will also help the community through the social businesses that are launched out of the programme. We are hugely impressed at the scale of social entrepreneurism in Skelmersdale that exists today and are confident the Skelmersdale Social Innovators Start Up Programme will identify further untapped potential. This is all about helping local people with promising ideas they have that will address a local issue by offering them support to allow their ideas and passion to become a reality.”

Martin from Total Reuse in West Lancashire is a graduate of the School of Social Entrepreneurs. He said:

“I heard about the School for Social Entrepreneurs from a friend who told me they were piloting an Environmental programme. I submitted my application, had the interview and was accepted onto the programme back in 2009. Whilst I was on the course I had a ‘light bulb’ moment and came up with my business idea. That night I went home and bought the domain and company names.

“The School for Social Entrepreneurs is not your traditional training course. It is a unique environment that brings together like minded people whose business ideas put people and planet first. You don’t learn from textbooks, you learn from experienced social entrepreneurs sharing their stories, (warts and all). You’ll build a valuable network, gain skills and knowledge that will help you create a sustainable enterprise and meet a bunch of inspiring people with the same driving passion, challenges and fears who support you long after the course has finished”.

Applications will be accepted from anyone age 17 and over. The applicants can be ready to begin a start-up social enterprise and/or in the early stages of operating (no more than three years of trading).

To get your application form or make an enquiry, please contact Angela Stanley from the School of Social Entrepreneurs North West on , or email . Details also available at

Printed application forms are also available locally from across Skelmersdale e.g. health centres, community venues and libraries. The deadline for applications is 1pm Friday 17 November 2017.

To support this programme, two awareness days will be hosted in Skelmersdale Library on 9 November 1-3pm and 13 November 5-7pm. Anyone is welcome to attend the events. The day will be focused on social enterprises and a great chance to ask more about applying for the programme.

Well Skelmersdale is a community driven initiative which aims to help communities live happier and healthier lives. Find out more:

Please view our poster highlighting this opportunity.

16.01.17 Community banner project shows Skelmersdale is sew fabulous!

People from across Skelmersdale are being invited to take part in an exciting project to sew a huge tapestry banner celebrating all that’s good about their community – and improve their health and wellbeing in the process.

The Sewing Rooms, a partner in Well Skelmersdale, has received funding of £8,250 from The Big Lottery to support a series of two hour ‘Skelmersdale Sew Fab Extravaganza Project’ events. These will be held in a variety of community venues and health centres across the town so that everyone who wants to participate can do so. People of all ages will be encouraged to sew a small leaf, flower, or letter made from fabric onto the main tapestry banner.

“During the events we will actively encourage participants to do mindful sewing,” explained Paula Gamester, co-founder of The Sewing Rooms, a social enterprise which helps people improve their health, wellbeing and job prospects through learning sewing skills.

“We will have soothing music playing in the background to create a calming experience for the participants, encouraging them to concentrate on the task in hand and to be in the moment. The end product will be a magnificent tapestry banner made out of textiles that celebrates Skelmersdale and depicts the town, our people and community in a positive way.”

The theme of the banner is ‘Take Notice’ which is one of the New Economics Foundation’s ‘Five ways to wellbeing’. Paula hopes the finished banner will be displayed in the Sandy Lane Health Centre, and unveiled at a special celebration to which all the participants plus civic dignitaries will be invited.

“We are so excited about this project and feel that it is an amazing way to bring the community together, helping people to learn new skills and contribute to a work of art that will be seen and celebrated in years to come by the whole community, ”said Paula.

Added Sam Tunney, Chief Executive of Well North: “Well done to Paula on having such a great idea and for getting the support of The Big Lottery. This is a brilliant example of social prescribing, and the proven benefits* it can bring to individuals and communities.

“Apart from the obvious benefits that learning the skill of sewing brings in terms of being able to make do and mend and so save money, sewing allows people to relax from the everyday pressures of life; and enhances their self esteem when they demonstrate their creativity.”

For more information please contact Paula Gamester at

*No longer passed down from generation to generation, the art of sewing is a dying skill. Yet it has been identified that things like sewing are forms of occupational therapy and contribute towards an individual's happiness. (Source: Psychiatric Quarterly, Vol 9, Num 3 BF01563817).

01.11.16 Congratulations to award finalist Paula

Well done to Paula Gamester, co-founder of The Sewing Rooms in Skelmersdale, on being shortlisted for an award. She was nominated in the ‘Female Entrepreneur of the Year 2016’ category at the Northern Enterprise Conference awards by SELNET - Social Enterprise Lancashire Network.

“Although I didn't win, I was absolutely delighted to have been nominated,” said Paula. “I had a wonderful night at the awards ceremony and it was great to meet lots of friends and colleagues whom I like and admire from the social enterprise sector.”

The one-day conference on 13th October, which culminated in the awards night, brought together enterprising, socially minded businesses from all sectors to explore partnerships and collaborative opportunities that create positive social impact.Hazel Blears, a colleague involved with the Well Whitehaven pathfinder, was one of the keynote speakers. Among her many and varied roles, Hazel is Chair of the Social Investment Business which exists to raise and connect capital to achieve the maximum possible social impact in the UK:

As well as being an active social entrepreneur, Paula is one of our Well North Ambassadors. Her practical approach to social enterprise ideas is inspiring others, and was recently featured in SEE Change magazine, Canada’s premier social entrepreneur publication.

The Sewing Rooms was one of the magazine’s recently featured change-makers with its Patchwork Buddies programme – strengthening communities stitch by stitch.