About Paula GamesterPaula is the founder of Connector Media CIC Social Enterprise and Co-founder and Director of The Sewing Rooms.
My work has taken me to many places around the world, and I have established several successful businesses, both here in the UK and in Dubai UAE.
I have strong links with the social enterprise community in the UK and India and have been invited to travel across both countries to see first hand how social enterprises are transforming the lives of millions.
My particular specialism is in the development and expansion of the commercial aspects of social enterprises, ultimately bringing about the sustainability of the organisation and its social activities.
I have served as a board member of the prestigious Blackburne House Group, and most recently headed up an enterprise within the Group that has responsibility for more than £1million in turnover. I work very closely with Claire Dove, chief executive of BHG and chair of SEUK, in this work.
I am committed to social impact programmes where individuals are supported and enabled. I am a graduate of the School for Social Entrepreneurs and now sit on their advisory Board.
Other career achievements include being trained in Antwerp at the International Gemological Institute and setting up a hair and beauty academy in Dubai, UAE.
I strive to embed the triple bottom line concept of People, Planet, Profit into the ethos and values of all my work, especially now in The Sewing Rooms and Connector Media.
Looking back, I see that I have spent nearly all of my career within the fashion, beauty and health industry. My first job was an apprentice hairdresser in a small salon in Kirkby, the little hamlet just outside Liverpool.
Connector Media was originally set-up to provide training and work opportunities for women to learn skills within media, including film, video, writing, editing and publishing. The company has grown, and through an Awards 4 All award, we set up a project that teaches sewing skills and upcycles clothing.
The Sewing Rooms now works with long term unemployed and private customers teaching sewing and upholstery skills within our dedicated workshop in Skelmersdale. We also do outreach and have recently been delivering bespoke workshops for the Probation Service in Lancashire. That work involves delivering sewing and upholstery courses to women and men at their bail hostels across Lancashire.
Our interventions have impacted greatly on participants, with 90% not re-offending. Once individuals have gained industry standard skills, we are able to offer employment within our manufacturing department.
In that department, we work with international high street brand IKEA to make their curtains and offer a curtain alteration service along with workshops in their Warrington and Manchester stores. We also offer a bespoke curtain making facility to commercial clients that includes Liverpool Housing Trust and private clients.