It is with great sadness that today we announce the end of Jelly Liverpool, at least in it’s current form. The final official Jelly Liverpool with refreshments provided will be on Thursday March 5th at Leaf on Bold St. As many of you will know, Jelly is a monthly co-working and networking event for freelancers. It attracts a diverse crowd of creative people, techies, small business owners, students and many others. We aim to provide a hub for them to meet, share ideas and work together. For over 4 years now we’ve successfully done that and it’s something to be proud of. Now it’s time for one chapter to end and hopefully another one to start.

So why the change? Allow me to explain.

Our current sponsorship arrangement runs out after March and attempts to find alternatives have proved fruitless. While the event is free to attend, it’s certainly not free to put on. It’s always relied on sponsorship to provide sandwiches and drinks, printed materials and publicity, power sockets and gaffa tape (yes really), not to mention all the other work Neil and I do to keep it running both on the day and between events. We’ve had great support from Open Labs at Liverpool John Moore’s University and more recently from M.I, Kin and Liverpool Vision. We’ve also been greatly supported by LEAF as hosts over the years, doing all they can to accommodate us and keep costs down. However, without any funding we can’t maintain Jelly in it’s current form.

One of the major problems in securing funding for an event like Jelly is that it’s hard to quantify. We’ve had numerous impact studies carried out, interviews, surveys and more. You name it we’ve tried it, but how do you measure and record the fact that a couple of attendees might decide to start a business together, or share some contract work for example? Funders want stats, or “outputs” as they call them. Hard, defined metrics.

They want to be able to say “89.7% of people who attend Jelly go on to find extra work as a result” or other headline statistics and it’s just not easy to get that kind of measure. This is probably one reason funding is hard to come by, but really also it’s a sign of the times. Nobody is finding it easy these days and we accept that.

On a personal note, I’ve been involved with Jelly for more than 4 years and I’ve loved it. I have to confess I don’t think I attended the very first one ever, started by Open Labs. I did join the fold early on though. As regular attendees Neil and I were eventually asked to help LJMU run Jelly, then we took over while they continued to fund it. It went up to 2 events a month for a while and things were booming. It couldn’t last forever though, funding was cut in half, then almost cut in half again. We found alternative sponsorship to keep going but the writing was always on the wall.

So what happens now? Well, unless we receive a last minute reprieve and future funding is secured our plan is to hold the last official Jelly with sandwich and drink vouchers on March 5th as stated. After that we hope to continue meeting casually on the first Thursday of the month and LEAF have kindly agreed to let us do that. It won’t be quite the same though. Just a corner of the upstairs space, depending on how many people turn up. Unfortunately no complimentary refreshments either, you’ll have to get your own lunch but at least we can still try to maintain a sense of community and share ideas. Who knows, maybe over time we find funding again and re-establish a more official event.

Thanks to everyone who has supported Jelly over the years, we truly appreciate it. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that Neil and I have enjoyed bringing Jelly Liverpool to life, meeting interesting