17 Aug 2018
For 11 years Carol was a stay at home mum and a carer for her father. Following his death she wanted to get back into work, but found her options were limited due to her age. She decided to go into self-employment and launched her new business Whipped & Beaten with support from St Helens Chamber.
Carol commented: “I wanted a job that allowed me to be independent in terms of when and how I worked.
“I also wanted to make the most of my previous skills and experience, having a background in cookery and teaching.
“I was inspired by the success of the ‘Great British Bake Off’ and other popular TV cookery programmes and I knew there would be a demand for cookery classes that wasn’t being met.”
Carol was referred to St Helens Chamber’s business start-up team by her local Job Centre Plus. She met with a dedicated business start-up adviser and received support with writing her business plan and applying for NEA. She also met with a business mentor for one hour per week for six weeks who gave her further advice and guidance.
Carol said: “The best part of the start-up support for me was the business mentor. I was very lucky to have a mentor from NatWest Bank who really helped me to organise and focus my ideas to structure my business plan.”
Carol also attended the Chamber’s free ‘Understanding Enterprise’ workshops where she learnt the fundamental principles of running a business and networked with other local start-ups.
Carol explained: “I did every workshop that was available to me, which was very useful in terms of getting started. It also gave me the opportunity to make new friends and contacts and learn from other people’s experiences.
“The workshops helped to eliminate the loneliness which comes when you’re working from home in the early stages setting up your business.”
After starting up her business, Carol became a Member of the Chamber, and made good use of all the benefits available to her including DBS checks, discounted networking and advice from business advisers.
Carol added: “For the first six months of operating I took full advantage of all the services available to me through the Chamber, all of which have been very helpful and supported me in starting my business.
“I received a start-up discount on Chamber Membership and attended the 2017 Business Fair at a discounted rate.
“Through my Membership I’ve also made use of the discounted DBS service. I was put in touch with the Business Services team at the Chamber who came out and explained the DBS process to me. It was straight forward and I was given all the information about how to apply. I filled in my forms and handed over the cheque and the rest was done for me.
“Someone at the Chamber that I’d known for a long time even provided me with a reference. When you’re starting out as a new business it’s hard to know who to use, so it really helped.”
Whipped & Beaten, also known as W&B Cookery in the Community, offers a variety of community based bakery and general cookery courses including supported living schemes, community centres and other special projects. Carol also attends local events such as the Great Get Together and seasonal fairs.
Since last Summer Carol has become heavily involved with a community project Sow, Grow and Eat, in collaboration with, The Autism and Asperger Society and Ashtons Green Community Allotments.
Here she runs a weekly cooking class aimed at vulnerable people suffering from loneliness and isolation.
Carol commented: “I was successful in securing funding from Wellbeing Enterprise and Un Ltd to start up the project and then received further funding to grow the project at the start of this year.
“The project is run over the course of six months, starting in Mach with the growing of the seeds and preparing raised beds.
“Each week we harvest the crops and cook them to prepare a communal meal. The project has been successful on many levels, improving social interaction, teaching new skills, increasing activity and promoting good mental and physical health.”
To find out more about how you can get involved call carol on 01744 731200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the free support available from St Helens Chamber to start a business, call 0845 340 9980, email email@example.com, or visit https://www.sthelenschamber.com/startup.