BACK HOME: Julie Gyi, of The Doing Department, who is expanding her business to her home town of Barrow SUBMITTED PICTURE
FORMER teacher and now company boss Julie Gyi has opened a branch of her unusual company The Doing Department in Barrow, and pledged to create jobs here.
Barrow born and raised, she is already working on projects with schools in South Cumbria such as one environmental project for a cluster of schools to collaborate to make ecologically sound, long-lasting bags of calico.
She is keen for her Chorley-based firm to getinvolved helping community groups and community-minded businesses and organisations which support children and young people in particular, in the Furness area.
She and her five staff are training to identify funding sources and organise bids for government and EU cash that organisations need and to achieve their goals, and then to project manage their programmes.
The Doing Department is a “not for profit” community interest company.
Any profits get ploughed back into the work.
Typically it charges community groups or schools in Lancashire and Cumbria a flat fee of £1,000 a year for its help in, for instance, bringing groups together and then project managing their bids for public grants.
If the grants it bids for are won it will take around 10 per cent as its fee.
Earlier this month Julie opened a new office at Waterside House on the approach to Jubilee Bridge.
The cost of the expansion has been aided by an £8,000 grant from the Social Enterprise Network in Barrow, which will pay for a consultant to test the potential market in this area for the services Julie can offer.
The former publicist and schoolteacher says her reasons for wanting to return are simple – she loves the place where she still has family, and she can see the potential that Barrow holds for the future of the economy in Cumbria.
She says with the young talent that the area produces, her company hopes to help local young people to realise their full potential and get Barrow known as the North West’s entrepreneurial capital.
She said: “I’m really excited to be coming back to Barrow and we are looking forward to working with other organisations in the town.
“There is a real entrepreneurial buzz about the place now.”
Julie started the business working from home in 1999.
Vicky England, the firm’s projects manager, said: “We’ve earned international recognition and praise through projects with clients from across the UK and Europe and are looking forward to bringing our experience to Cumbria.
“At the heart of what we do is ‘every child matters’, and as a community interest company there’s the added benefit of our profits being ploughed back into the community.
“With the help of funding from the Social Enterprise Network’s Box programme and the support of Furness Enterprise, the Doing Department will find out what people in Barrow really want.”
Julie said: ‘I love Cumbria.
“Most of my family and friends still live in the Furness area and I’m always coming back to see them.
“There is a great energy from the council and local businesses to get the area on the map as a strong economical force.
“I believe that, with the right support from an early age, young people are the key to this, and that is what we do.
“We help schools and community groups to secure funding for projects that can give their young people a better start, by raising aspirations and giving support and advice so they can turn their ideas into actions.”
Julie said: “We turn ideas into action, hence the name the Doing Department.
“If someone has an embryonic idea we get it going.
“We specialise in improvements for the community, specifically for children and young people.
“We work with schools and young people and local authorities.
“It is really about bringing specialist advice.”
Another success story notched up by her company was organising a 750,000 euro, Europe-wide collaboration producing what Julie describes as an “idiot’s guide to flexible working and the work/life balance”.
The project included partners in England, Ireland, Spain, France and Germany.
One of its main outputs was a flexible working toolkit showing how organisations across Europe could achieve a better work life/balance.