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Digital pair’s recipe for jobs clicks with Hackney mums

PUBLISHED: 11:31 26 December 2013 | UPDATED: 11:31 26 December 2013

Nikki Cochrane and Kathryn Tyler who set up Digital Mums

Nikki Cochrane and Kathryn Tyler who set up Digital Mums

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Two tech wizards have set about combating a rise in unemployed mothers by training them to manage the Twitter accounts and Facebook pages of fledgling firms in the booming food scene around Hackney.

Nikki Cochrane and Kathryn Tyler are recruiting businesses to Digital Mums, an organisation that teaches women to be social media managers.

The pair, who ironically met on a fast in Thailand where they stopped eating for 10 days, were inspired by a report about the contribution to Hackney’s economy from food pop-ups, cafes and restaurants, which showed that 271 jobs had been created in just six months.

“As unemployment generally was so high we loved this,” said Kathryn.

“The report talked about how social media was one of the biggest factors in how successful these businesses were – building a buzz online is key.

“We loved this too and became really interested as we both do social media marketing in our jobs,” she added.

A week later as the two sat in a cafe, they wondered why it was always empty, while the one next door was busy.

“We realised they had no real presence online, or what they did have was really poor,” explained Kathryn.

The community-minded couple, who have lived in Hackney for 10 years, created free social media guides to distribute to food businesses, and set up a company offering training to help them do it effectively.

But once they were inundated with requests they realised that a lack of skills was not the problem – it was finding the time to implement the training.

“People actually just wanted to outsource their social media.

“We couldn’t possibly cover that for everyone so we were wondering what to do,” said Kathryn.

“At the same time we read research showing skyrocketing maternal unemployment rates.

“Nikki and I were really concerned about this as we have both been personally affected by this issue,” said Kathryn.

Community

“Nikki’s mum brought up three kids as a single mum and was out of work a lot of the time, but my mum was out of work for my whole life.

“As a child my family couldn’t afford basics like meat, never mind gadgets and toys, but for me the issue was much bigger than financial – because she was out of work for so long my mum had no social networks outside of the family really. She had really low confidence in her ability and no identity beyond being a wife and mother.

“When my dad passed away when I was 23 she had a total breakdown and has never recovered, which I believe is massively do to with the fact that she had nothing outside of the relationship to keep her motivated.”

The pair hope Digital Mums will be able to overcome the isolation of being a parent by building up women’s social networks.

Women are provided with training which improves their future career prospects in the fast-growing digital sector, and the demands of the role are flexible enough to fit around their caring responsibilities.

It works well for businesses too, who are teamed up with an affordable solution to their social media, who works as an apprentice.

“Many of the skills needed to build a family online are all those associated with building a family offline - empathy, sound judgement, the ability to multi-task and good communication skills,” said Kathryn.

“Plus mums make 80 per cent of all purchasing decisions so are a key target demographic for businesses, it makes sense to employ mums who understand and mimic their habits.

“It is very much a community solution.

“We are starting in Hackney because we love it here and care about our community but if successful we will take it London wide and then possibly beyond London.”


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