Flourish Together was born in 2016 when Founding Directors Directors Nickala Torkington, Jo McGrath and Anne Strachan spotted a need for tailored support for women developing social ventures.
Back in 2012, Nickala, Jo and Anne had set up a series of pilot projects under the banner of ‘The Women Supporting Social Entrepreneurs Network’. The network flourished, and in 2016, Flourish Together was set up as a Community Interest Company.
We could see the enormous potential for women to thrive as innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders. Our first-hand experience showed us how social enterprise can empower women to lead change – and lift themselves out of hardship and inflexible work situations at the same time. They just needed the right support – support that wasn’t out there.
Since then, Flourish has grown organically and continues to evolve – adapting services and activities to meet local, regional and national need – to support women changemakers, to foster greater collaboration across the sector and to promote positive change in communities.
Co-founder and Managing Director
Nickala has supported social innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders for over 22 years to create the change they see needed in communities. She has personally coached and intensively supported over 2,500 social entrepreneurs to develop projects, businesses and campaigns which create social change predominantly in the North West – and across the UK. A specialist in social value Nickala is listed as one of the top 100 Women in Social Enterprise nationally. She was shortlisted for an Institute of Directors Award in 2020, shortlisted in the Northern Power Women Awards in 2017 as ‘Mentor of the Year’ and Highly Commended in the Innovation Category in 2020. She was also awarded Woman of the Year in Social Enterprise as part of the Inspiring Women Awards in 2019.
To further the strategic development and support of the Social Enterprise Sector, Nickala sits on a range of groups, networks and boards including Greater Manchester Social Enterprise Network, Greater Manchester Social Enterprise Action Group and BASE (an organisation supporting and advocating for culturally diverse groups across Greater Manchester).
Nickala is a proud single parent and when not working too hard likes to head to the beach or the mountains.
Operations, Development and Programme Manager
Shelley is a commercially experienced social entrepreneur with ten years’ experience in the corporate sector and over a decade working in the VCSE sector across a variety of strategic, creative and operational roles in blue chip, start-up, third sector, client-side and agency environments.
Her career began in the media, quickly rising to lead the marketing effort for high profile youth magazines including Smash Hits, Sky, The Face, FHM and Empire. Shelley returned to education in 2008 and gained an MSc in Responsible Business Practice from Bath University.
She has since devoted her energy to not-for-profit and for-purpose organisations including founding and running innovative social enterprise The Digital Life Skills Company which operated for over five years teaching children, young people and adults digital literacy skills. She also served for five years as Marketing Director and Trustee for arts charity Barnaby Festival.
In her spare time, Shelley can be found wandering the Peak District, moaning about the media, providing a taxi-service to her boys and going to the occasional festival or gig.
Admin & Operations Support
Co-founder of art & craft for wellbeing community group, ReCreate Mossley, Anna joined our 2nd Time to Grow programme on the recommendation of a friend. After benefitting from coaching, networking & peer support, Anna kept in contact and joined Flourish Together in 2021 to support the team with Admin & Comms as we continue to expand. Anna lives in the beautiful Pennine hills with her family, and cat.
Nicola Dickins has been working with Social Entrepreneurs for over 25 years, helping them to develop social enterprise activity and diverse income generation routes through trading, commissioning, funding, and social investment. In this time, she has supported the start-up of over 375 new Community Interest Companies and secured over £165m for her clients. Her vision is to see a world where organisations chose to invest their profits into social purpose and thus sustainable and resilient communities can emerge. Nicola has a master’s in Social Enterprise management and sat on the Department of Health Board for Social Enterprise; contributing to the development of the Right to Request and Social Value Commissioning. She is also CIPD Qualified (Human Resources). She has delivered contracts on behalf of the Cabinet Office Public Mutuals Support Service, working with Primary Care Trusts, Adult Social Services and Council led Youth Services to ‘spin out’ as a Social Enterprise and as a result supported the first ‘spin out’ delivering personalisation services.
Over the last 10 years, Nicola has delivered Social Enterprise Development Programmes at several universities including Oxford Brookes, Staffordshire, Keele, Coventry University, Manchester. Nicola has just completed her role as Social Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Sheffield and is currently working with Queens University Belfast and Lancaster University to develop programmes to support Social Science Researchers to commercialise their research. Nicola is also a qualified and experienced Social Accountant.
Debbie is a textile designer with over 25 years’ experience as a hand-dyer, author and tutor and a founding director of Making Futures CIC, a social enterprise that aims to build confidence, wellbeing and self-esteem through creative activity. Making Futures works with community groups, schools, colleges and third sector organisations to deliver a wide range of workshops, classes, City & Guilds, Arts Award and Artsmark.
An experienced retailer and designer-maker Debbie also offers business mentoring and start-up advice to new creative enterprises. In particular she works with individuals who face barriers to employment, working with them to set up home-based creative businesses that allow them to achieve their potential whilst having regard to any specific needs they may have.
Rana Khadiri has diverse experience that spans across the public, private and third sector in a range of areas from digital and tech, legal, enterprise, learning and development, domestic abuse and politics. Rana has led and delivered many amazing initiatives from organising and managing political campaigns, running digital workshops, organising and delivering training to providing mentoring and support to women experiencing domestic abuse. A common theme amongst these is her passion for ensuring people achieve their full potential and making a positive change in communities. She has held previous roles in the Digital Growth team at The Business Growth Hub and at 10GM.