Scunthorpe woman sets up her own business with help from Jobcentre Plus

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 17 May 2018

A Scunthorpe woman facing a difficult time in her life managed to start her own business with help from Jobcentre Plus.

Sarah Parker was helped through the New Enterprise Allowance to set up a dog running business.

She said: "Having been made redundant from my job of 22 years as cabin crew in October 2017, I claimed Jobseeker's Allowance. At rock bottom and grieving for a job that had been my world for so long, I began to wonder what the next chapter for me was.

"I was offered rapid response redundancy advice from the team at the Best Training Centre in Scunthorpe. I enrolled on a Learn Direct Course to retake my maths GCSE qualification, which I'm currently about to complete. I also completed a SAGE accounts course. They really are a great team there and I looked forward to going twice a week, my self-disciplined schedule.

"During my redundancy, I made sure I had a daily break from the endless job hunting and applications to make time for a run to blow away the cobwebs.

"It was during a run that I had a lightbulb moment. Why don't I offer dog running to complement a dog walking service? A fantastic option for higher energy dogs, those who can’t be let off the lead or to combine human and canine fitness. My journey began.


Sarah was helped by the Scunthorpe Jobcentre plus team (Image: David Haber)

"Having owned a Boxer dog for eight years, I usually spent most days running with him to give us both exercise. I have completed distances from 5K to marathon level, and have been lucky enough to run in many countries through my previous job.

"I began researching the sport of dog running, or Canicross, which is the technical term. Whilst researching online, I saw advertised an instructor course which would give me a certification to be able to teach others to Canicross.

"In order to qualify to become a Dogfit Canicross trainer, I needed to have the England Athletics Leader in Running Fitness qualification. I enquired at Best Training to see if they would fund my course. They agreed and two days later I completed the training.

"My next step was to complete the Dogfit course which was also partly funded, and in February I had another qualification under my belt."

How the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) helped

Sarah said: "I was beginning to build up an image of a range of services I could offer to complement a dog walking/dog running business. Whilst talking to my job coach about self-employment possibilities, she told me about the NEA (New Enterprise Allowance) which helps new small business set-ups.

"I attended my first NEA information course to see if self-employment was the way forward for me. I had a follow up meeting with my NEA mentor, to see if my business idea was viable.

"I attended a further workshop about business plans and cash flow forecasts which I had to complete, submit and be approved in order to be accepted onto the NEA Scheme.

"I submitted my plans for approval and a day later my plan was approved, and two weeks later after my first customer I switched over to the NEA scheme.

"I am now working on the next stage of my business and building a website. My dog walking, running, Canicross Training and group runs will be listed on the site. I am out and about in various locations building up my local presence and talking to anyone who will listen about my new venture.

"You are your own best advert and of course this is free! I've educated myself about Facebook and Instagram business advertising. I'm posting regularly and engaging with my followers. I've had help and advice on logo design and marketing enabling me to gain a clear vision of how I want my business to look.

"For anyone thinking of self-employment, I would highly recommended the NEA scheme and the invaluable help and support I have received. The scheme supports you through your first year of trading and offers the reassurance to know that even when things do get tough there is help to guide you in the right direction.


Scunthorpe Jobcentre Plus on Laneham Street (Image: David Haber)

"The sense of achievement I've had from my journey so far has been worth every barrier I've faced and overcome."

'This is a great success story'

Debbie Kay, from Best Training Lincs, said: "Sarah is a pleasure to work with, she has remained focused and determined to achieve her qualifications. We really do wish her all the very best with her business opportunity and will continue to support all that we can."

Anne Brewster, employer and partnership manager for Jobcentre Plus, said: "This is a great success story showing how people can be faced with difficult times in their lives but can be supported into something they have a skill for and be able to make a business. I wish Sarah every success in her new venture."

If you are eligible you may be able to get New Enterprise Allowance to help start your own business or develop your business, if you are already self-employed.

Speak to your work coach to discuss what might be available to you. Alternatively find more about the New Enterprise Allowance scheme by searching https://www.gov.uk/moving-from-benefits-to-work/starting-your-own-business

For more information on Sarah's business, visit her Facebook/Instagram page @thedogandrunningcompany and keep an eye out for her website launch at the end of the month at dogandrunning.co.uk



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