The Big Onion: A Multi Layered Approach to Social & Economic Inclusion. 



Earlier this year Power to Change published a study which suggested that the key to revitalising high streets in the UK was community ownership. “Community ownership is not just vital for the future of our high streets. It is a crucial part of any credible response to some of the big economic and social issues facing many parts of the country.” 

The impact of COVID 19 is being felt throughout our country. However, it is widely recognised that people from more disadvantaged communities will be disproportionately impacted by the social, and in particular, economic effects of the pandemic (Baldwin & Weder di Mauro 2020). It is also acknowledged that these communities will take longer to recover and adapt following the relaxing of the lockdown and social distancing measures put in place by the Government. 

With our primary goal being to support vulnerable people, to make positive and lasting changes to their lives, Merseyside Expanding Horizons are committed to being part of the recovery!

The Big Onion project is a new enterprise incubator hub in Bootle Strand Shopping centre. Managed and run by Merseyside Expanding Horizons, but working in partnership with the Strand Management team, The Big Onion has three layers 

•             Retail Incubator

•             Employment Hub 

•             Community Activity Space

Rowland Parry, The Strand’s Centre Manager commented:

“We are very pleased to be working in partnership with Merseyside Expanding Horizons on this exciting new project; The Big Onion. It will be a valuable asset to the Strand Shopping centre, bringing new businesses into our community and providing much needed support to retailers and community members in what has undoubtedly been a very difficult year.”

The Retail Incubator enables us to provide incubation and ‘hothouse’ support to up to 22 start-up and recovering businesses and social enterprises, providing them opportunities to train, trial and trade within a supportive environment, with affordable rent and flexible terms, which will ultimately enable them to consider progression onto bigger units beyond the Big Onion.

Further to this it will house an innovative employment hub which will provide one to one and group support to people looking to access the local employment opportunities. It is innovative as we will co-locate and work alongside Jobcentre+, employers and other employment support providers to ensure that the jobseekers we support are able to develop their skills and realise their potential.

Finally, and at the heart of the Big Onion, is the community space which will provide individuals and community groups a place to create learning and community activities such as yoga, connect with other likeminded people, and contribute through volunteering and peer learning to their local community.

Nicola Daley, Chief Executive Officer, Merseyside Expanding Horizons said:

“Opening The Big Onion is really exciting and important for us at Merseyside Expanding Horizons as it gives retail and other local entrepreneurs a real solution to the challenge of finding affordable and flexible high street units, hot desks and training space, it also marks a new era for us at MEH. It embodies our core values of innovation, inspiration, collaboration and integrity, and enables us to support people throughout their enterprise/employment journey, whilst making a valuable contribution to the community in Bootle, the place where we first started, as well as across the whole Merseyside area.”

The Big Onion opens its doors on the 4th December 2020, for more information please contact us on

07713 562905


Tel: 0151 330 0552 | Fax: 0151 284 2674 | Email:

Joseph Lappin Centre | Mill Lane | Old Swan | Liverpool | L13 5TF

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