International women’s day

On International Women’s Day, please vote for your favourite Liverpool social campaigner.

We are hosting the poll on our Facebook page. You can read about the entries here.

When considering all of the entries below, we want to also give credit to all those that have inspired us at the credit union. Here’s a selection of the Women that have inspired the credit union’s CEO, Eileen Halligan.

 Margaret Aspinall

Photo credit: Paul Francis Cooper

Hillsborough campaigner and Liverpool mum, Margaret Aspinall, fought for decades to get justice for her son James’s death.

Margaret not only led the Hillsborough campaign with dignity, determination and bravery, she supported other familiesm, becoming the chairwoman of the official support group. Finally winning her battle the original verdicts were overturned in April 2016.

Quoted on as part of a Granada Reports interview, Margaret said: “There’s no such thing as victory for those who lost their loved ones at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989. But hopefully we have done something in remembrance of our 96 that will be good for the future of this country.”

Denise Barrett-Baxendale

Denise Barrett-Baxendale’s reputation as a dynamo is deserved. Conscientious and innovative, her work at Everton in the Community was ground-breaking.

In 2018 she was appointed as the Club’s new CEO. On a daily basis Denise asks staff at Goodison Park and Finch Farm “What have you done for your club today?”

In addition to her business credentials, which are considerable – BA (Hons), MBA, PhD, Denise is the only representative from the world of football to sit on the board of Sport England. She ‘gets’ Everton.

“I am an Evertonian I feel the pain Evertonians feel when this football club isn’t performing in the way I would want them to perform. But the pain is twice as hard when you are a professional in that area because the responsibility you have to deliver the results the fans want is huge, it’s massive.”

“You have got to be great at your job. You have got to be the best practitioner or professional and that is what is required to run the football club. But while skills, knowledge and qualifications are important, the sentiment and understanding of what our football club requires and what our fans expect is crucial too.”

Bessie Braddock

An ardent socialist and fiery campaigner, Bessie was the daughter of the social reformer William Rathbone VI. She fought as an MP to improve people’s lives particularly in the areas of maternity, child welfare and youth crime.

Lucy Cradock

Lucy Cradock was the first woman doctor to practise in Liverpool at a surgery at 52 Huskisson Street. Lucy became the only female doctor associated with The Liverpool Medical Institute, one of the oldest medical societies in the world.

Lucy Cradock served as Medical Officer to the Female Staff of the Liverpool Post Office, became House Physician to the Women’s Hospital in Shaw Street and served on the Dispensary Board of the Victoria Settlement.  She was also a medical attendant to the School for the Blind, and medical officer to the women students of the University Training School. She remained in Liverpool until her death in 1903, at the age of fifty-three.

Claire Dove

Claire Dove OBE, DL, has been a key player in the social enterprise movement since the early 1980s and has led the award-winning Blackburne House Group, one of the leading providers of adult and community education in the country, since its inception.

Blackburne House is a Beacon status college with a wide training remit for the women of Merseyside. The School for Social Entrepreneurs provides services across the Northwest of England. Over the past 30 years, the Blackburne House Group has successfully established a number of highly acclaimed, award winning social enterprises, whose products and services are sought throughout the country.

Claire was awarded an MBE for her work in the mid-nineties. She received an OBE in 2013 and was given the Queens Lifetime Achievement Award for Enterprise Promotion. She has an Honorary Fellowship of Liverpool John Moores University, a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts and was voted nationally as an exemplary leader in Regeneration. Claire is Deputy Lieutenant for Merseyside.

Gina McDonagh

One of the Credit Union’s own, Gina has been nominated by Anne Halligan.

“The woman I really want to celebrate today is our very own Gina McDonagh.

She amazes me regularly with her resilience and ‘can do’ attitude.  I have known her for longer than either of us care to remember and in my mind,  she has always been the scaffold that Eileen builds her dreams on.

When she first entered the office, it was as a single mum of 3 kids, looking for assistance as a member. My mum, Eileen Snr., somehow snared her as a volunteer and here we are some decades later and she is now the manager of 2 offices and acting manager for the 3rd covering sick leave. I don’t know what my mum saw in the first instance, but she recognised talent when she saw it.

I’m not sure Gina fully realises how valuable she is not only to the Central Liverpool Credit Union but to her family and friends. There have been times when her support has been the only thing keeping others’ heads above water. Despite some hardships and despite some tragedies she remains steadfast, caring and loyal. I marvel at how she is undefeated by anything life throws at her. Through Gina we are lucky enough to know her family and they are a testament; her example shines through them.

I have a lot to thank her for; her presence has saved the day both personally and professionally many times. She has kept this ship sailing through some very rocky waters and always brought us out the other side. It may seem strange that I praise Gina instead of Eileen our CEO, but I think Eileen’s achievements are plain to see, Gina is an unsung hero.

As with any real heroes, she doesn’t think she does anything special, but I and many others can attest that that is not true. Her unwavering presence is a comfort because you know you’re in safe hands if Gina is in your corner.”

Michelle Langan

Michelle Langan is a campaigner for Liverpool’s homeless community.

Rallying volunteers and local businesses to provide hot meals and essentials for those in need, Michelle also lends an ear and words of advice. Or, sometimes, even just a handshake and a hug.

Founder of the Paper Cup Project, Michelle, who is also a writer, columnist, social commentator and lover of wicked boots and trainers, works hard to give the homeless community a voice. And she is determined to make it one that is heard by people who are instrumental in making policy decisions that effect us all.

Hannah Lightbody

Hannah Lightbody was the daughter of Adam Lightbody, a Unitarian cotton merchant from Liverpool. Orphaned at the age of 12, Hannah was sent to school in London where she studied maths, Latin, history, French, German and philosophy before returning to Liverpool at the age of 18.

In early 1787 Liverpool was being rocked by campaigns to abolish the slave trade. Hannah and her friends were among the tiny minority voicing their opposition to the lucrative trade.

In 1789 she married Samuel Greg. Samual was a Manchester textile merchant who, to guarantee a supply of cotton yarn, decided to build his own textile mill. It’s then that Hannah turned her attention to the pauper children in the mill factories. Her passion for education meant she started teaching the children and introduced thinking, music and better diets for the mill families. Hannah is thought to have been instrumental in the establishment of a Women’s Club and Sick Club for the growing community of families in the Mill’s factory community.

Catherine Meredith

Catherine Meredith MBE died on 27 November 2017. She spent 25 years at the organisation, which later became Plus Housing and then Plus Dane Housing, after helping to establish it in 1975.

She had previously studied architecture at the University of Nottingham and had worked in the planning department at Liverpool City Council.

Under her leadership, CDS gained a reputation for a strong commitment to tenant participation, and focused on involving tenants and community groups in developments.

Ms Meredith retired from the organisation in 2000, but continued to work in several non-executive roles. From 2003 to 2009, she served as an independent non-executive director and member of the audit committee at the National Energy Savings Trust.

More recently she was chair of trustees at the Westbourne Hall Community Trust, where her work helped to establish a viable and thriving resource for the West Kirby community.

Maggie O’Carroll

In 1996, Maggie O’Carroll started The Women’s Organisation to promote female enterprise. Over the last 22 years, the organisation has grown into one of the country’s biggest women’s economic development social enterprises.

Through her work with The Women’s Organisation, Maggie has been able to make a real, positive impact on women’s lives.

From nurturing new businesses to pushing for changes to legislation or contributing to social awareness, The Women’s Organisation is a world-leader in creating opportunities for women.

Eleanor Florence Rathbone

Eleanor Florence Rathbone was born on 12 May 1872 she was the daughter of the social reformer William Rathbone VI and his second wife, Emily Lyle.

Her family encouraged her to concentrate on social issues. Eleanor went to Kensington High School, London, and later studied in Somerville College Oxford.  However, she was not allowed to graduate as graduation was not allowed for women at Oxford until after October 1920.

She began working alongside her father to investigate social and industrial conditions in Liverpool until William Rathbone died in 1902. Eleanor was without doubt one of  Liverpool’s foremost pioneering daughters, campaigning to improve the lives of other women she was  a self confessed “whole-hearted feminist”, is one of six women to appear on a commemorative set of stamps.

She represented Granby ward for 25 years, from 1909 to 1934 and her family home, Greenbank House, is now marked with a blue plaque bearing her name.

Margaret Simey

Margaret Simey was a political and social campaigner who was a force for good amongst local communities, notably in the aftermath of the Toxteth riots in 1981.

Kitty Wilkinson

Catherine “Kitty” Wilkinson became the superintendant of the first wash-house for poor people in Liverpool (and Britain) on Upper Frederick Street in 1842.

Kitty was born Catherine Seaward in Londonderry, in 1786. When she was only a few years old, her working class parents took the Irish ferry to Liverpool in order to better themselves. Dubbed ‘the Saint of the Slums’, Kitty Wilkinson was responsible for saving many lives.

In 1832, during a cholera epidemic, Kitty took the initiative to offer the use of her house and yard to neighbours to wash their clothes, at a charge of 1 penny per week. She showed them how to use a chloride of lime to get them clean. Kitty was supported by the District Provident Society and William Rathbone. In 1832 a cholera epidemic was sweeping Liverpool , Kitty and Tom Wilkinson were in the fortunate position of having the only hot water boiler in their street so they invited their neighbours down to their cellar to wash their clothes and bed-linen, hoping to offer some measure of protection against the cholera.

When the cholera epidemic passed, there were many fatherless motherless children who were neglected and even living rough. Kitty took in twenty of them every morning and read stories to them and taught them hymns in her bedroom. They enjoyed themselves so much that Kitty was forced to hire a room and employ another woman to teach them.

Kitty lost her husband Tom who died in 1848.  She outlived him by twelve years and died aged 73.  This was considered to be a great age, in a time when people did not live far beyond their 40th birthday.

Women’s Health, Information and Support Centre

Not strictly one woman but run by women for women.

The Centre was started in 1984 by a group of women in the Vauxhall area. They weren’t satisfied with the information available to women about their health and bodies so they ran a health training course in order to help themselves and others.

The Centre’s moved a few times over the years. They were even based in a bus at one time! But now they have a permanent address in Bold Street offering complementary therapies, training courses, listening ear and information about many health problems.

The Centre’s faced a lot of funding cuts recently. The City needs this valuable resource.