Aside from all the freedom and benefits, freelancing comes with inherent risks and uncertainty which need to be nullified, therefore IPSE was delighted to shortlist Katy Carlisle, Faye Dicker and Charlotte Wibberley for the inaugural Ambassador of the Year Award.
Ambassadors are those working to overcome these uncertainties by making the freelance community stronger, more accessible and more connected.
Katy Carlisle drew from her own experiences early in her freelance career when she felt isolated having gone from a busy office environment to working from home. She knew she wasn’t alone, so set about building a community for freelancers to come together to collaborate and fill the personal and professional void that can develop when working from home.
Freelance Friday was born and now falls under the umbrella of Freelance Folk, which has big plans beyond just Fridays.
“I came up with the idea of setting up a session to bring people together. Specifically, to work alongside each other, but in a way that they could actually engage with other people, where conversation was encouraged and facilitated,” Katy said.
“I setup Freelance Friday which is a co-working conversation session at Ziferblat in Manchester. People come along who are freelance or are thinking about becoming freelance; to share ideas, have a chat, talk about different challenges.
“We don’t call it a networking group because that puts off people who aren’t comfortable with networking. It’s to reach out to freelancers who are maybe sitting at home struggling, it’s to let them know there’s a community out there who can support them. Because of its success we’re planning to expand into Sheffield.”
Faye Dicker created Freelance Mum shortly after the birth of her first daughter. While all her friends were going back to work after their maternity leave ended, Faye, who had always freelanced, struggled to identify with other self-employed mothers.
She started Freelance Mum podcast and blog but soon realised there was scope for far more.
“I just discovered I was in a completely different place and I was unable to identify with fellow freelance mums and I just thought, ‘if this didn’t exist, I was going to have to invent it’,” Faye said.
“I was trying to build a community online by sharing stories of fellow freelance mums, but it was only through meeting them that I realised I should invent networking events that allow parents and business to come along, and bring their children.
“Fifteen people turned up to the first one and I just realised everyone got it, everyone understood and everyone was very supportive. There was clearly a need and now up to 40 mums meet twice a month.”
Charlotte Wibberley is a business success coach who runs VIP VA, which was set up to champion, support and nurture the VA industry. She identified the mass increase of people becoming self-employed and she gives them the support and skills to succeed.
“It can be quite isolating working from home, so I wanted to create a support community to help them come together as an industry, but also to provide service development and training,” Charlotte added.
“That’s one side, but I also connect with non-VA business owners to help them to understand about outsourcing in their business to free up their time. I’ve got around 600 VAs in my network, and a paid community of about 50.
“To date there has been no sort of governing body for the VA industry, or anyone saying ‘to run a VA business, you need to have these things in place’. That’s what I’m trying to do, trying to create an industry standard to guarantee the quality of VAs in my community.”
The finalists will be assessed on a range of qualities including the support they provide, how they’ve tailored their offering and their overall commitment to improving and championing their freelance community and their business endeavours. The winner will be announced on National Freelancers Day on 8 June.