Empowering Bradford women to work together

Manningham in Bradford is in the bottom 10% of deprived UK neighbourhoods. It has a significantly younger population too, with 31% of the population aged below 18 yrs, and with it comes a high rate of youth unemployment. But it’s also a diverse area with a rich mixture of cultures and enterprising people with valuable skills to offer.

By focusing on “the great things can be built on,” Carlisle Business Centre works to tackle social inequality in Manningham, to strengthen the power of local people and create innovative solutions to complex social problems.

“We’re a business centre in the heart of Manningham and our purpose is to support its economy,” says Community Business Manager Katherine Wyatt. Through their Made in Manningham project – funded by charitable trust Power to Change – Katherine and her colleagues offer enterprise coaching and support to local people to start and grow community businesses.

As part of the project, Katherine discovered a groundswell of local women with a wealth of skills and ideas – but little economic power. Described as “economically inactive,” they are women who don’t generate their own income and may be financially dependent on their partners or families.

“There’s a correlation between health and work,” Katherine explains. “Communities with more employment tend to enjoy better health. There’s poor health in this area. And for the women without work, there can be knock-on effects for the whole family. It doesn’t just affect the individual.”

Made in Manningham is redressing this by empowering local women to work together to create businesses. “We’ve discovered that many women have expertise in Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Afro Caribbean cuisines – and that they want to create that food with other women and sell it.”

Putting that food in front of customers is one way Katherine and her team are helping. “We’re supporting them define who their customers are, find a market, and sell to those customers. We’ve helped them set up market stalls and are exploring using our links with local cafes and businesses as other markets for them.”

The women have also benefitted from training in business planning and food safety, with a leadership course planned soon. “We’re encouraging them to develop and grow skills.  We want them to build their confidence and ability to have ideas and carry them forward,” Katherine says.

She’s positive that these women will go on to enjoy the same success as other community businesses that have been supported by Made in Manningham, such as Bradford Community Repaint, an enterprise that recycles paint and sells it at affordable prices.

Carlisle Business Centre also aims to help these women – and other local enterprises – to connect and trade with each other. 

Katherine explains: “We are going to be developing a network of community businesses so they can support each other and be each other’s customers – so that we can grow and retain greater wealth and wellbeing within the local community.”


Carlisle Business Centre in Bradford is one of the catalyst organisations for the Empowering Places programme, that aims to demonstrate the role that concentrated clusters of community businesses can play in creating better places and reducing inequality in local areas. Funded by Power to Change, the programme is delivered by Co-operatives UK in partnership with CLES and NEF.

The Empowering Places programme is part of our Community Economic Development (CED) work, which supports organisations and networks in local wealth building, co-op development and engaging communities in economic development.