Mention Westminster and Kensington, and you instantly imagine some of the most affluent households in the country.
However, there is an arc of deprivation which extends from North Westminster to North Kensington which includes local council wards which are among the top five most deprived in the UK.
Now, Rotary Paddington has become involved in a new project which is targeting women living in the area, providing them with the skills to create a better future for themselves.
Last week, the first group of participants graduated from the ‘MyLifeMix’ course at the Portobello Business Centre, which is a corporate member of Rotary Paddington.
Mac Purcell from Rotary Paddington, pointed out that the MyLifeMix project is the first incoming Global Grant into the London Rotary District.
Their international partner is Rotary Carpi in Italy.
He said: “The idea of the course is to help and assist women who have caring responsibilities to create a better future for themselves, be it a business, or provide them with the skills and confidence to improve their circumstances.
“The first session has just finished. The candidates are enthusiastic and keen to make the most of the course and I have received many thank you messages for Rotary providing the opportunity for change.”
The course was run by Sarah-Jane Menato, who said that the MyLifeMix programme was deeply-rooted in her own personal experience.
She said: “I’m a creative, enterprising woman who was committed, as a single parent, to raising my daughter as a hands-on fully engaged mother.
“When my daughter was born – she’s 25 now – I was fortunate enough to have done work I loved all my life.
“With the arrival of my daughter, my priorities changed and I found myself torn in unsustainable ways.
“I wasn’t doing the job I loved to the best of my ability, and I wasn’t being the mother I wanted to be.”
Sarah-Jane said it took her two years to realise that she needed to work for herself, designing and delivering training programmes, and she has never looked back.
A revolution in women’s business ownership has led to an increase in female self-employment of 30% since 2008, she pointed out.
“However, challenges which are specific to women still hold back potential,” she added.
“To ensure that this new enterprise majority survive, tailor-made enterprise training statistically doubles women’s chances of starting a business, and triples their level of confidence in their abilities.
“Women are significantly more likely to participate in training that is targeted specifically to their needs.”
The nine-week programme, run once a day over that period in between the school run, allows the women to look at the challenges they face, raises confidence and looks at opportunities to build their own businesses.
Sarah-Jane said that whether the women choose to start a business or not, they come away with an understanding of their own potential, as well as possessing the tools to think strategically and push through their fears.