A St Helens mother says her love of baking has helped her overcome the grief of bereavement.
For 11 years, Carol Dyer was a stay-at-home mum and a carer for her father. But, following his death she found opportunities to return to work restricted.
So, she opted for self-employment and set up her own bakery demonstration business, the imaginatively titled, Whipped & Beaten.
After a strict regime borne of more than a decade of providing support and care she said she needed an opportunity for personal freedom and expression.
“I wanted a job that allowed me to be independent, in terms of when and how I worked,” she said.
“I also wanted to make the most of my previous skills and experience, having a background in cookery and teaching.”
With an eye to her favourite TV show, the Great British Bake Off, she said she knew there was a demand for cookery classes that she felt wasn’t being met.
So Carol sought the assistance of St Helens Chamber, and the Enterprise Hub, which coordinates and simplifies the process of business start-up support available across the Liverpool City Region.
The programme provided back up, such as the Chamber’s ‘Be Your Own Boss’ events and a dedicated business start-up mentor to offer guidance on how to get her business established.
Another valuable source of advice was the Chamber’s free ‘Understanding Enterprise’ workshops which offered the fundamental principles of running a business, and networking opportunities with fellow start-ups.
Carol said: “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 peoples’ experiences.”
And, given her recent experiences, Carol admitted: “The workshops helped to eliminate the loneliness which comes when you’re working from home in the early stages of setting up your business.”
Having embarked on the road to self-employment, Carol enlisted as a Chamber member, to exploit the wealth of assistance and advice available.
She said: “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 for areas like supported living schemes, community centres and other special projects.
Since last Summer Carol has become heavily involved with the 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 said: “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 March 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.”
As part of Enterprise Hub, St Helens Chamber can offer new businesses help on a range of start-up subjects, such as understanding the process of starting a business, to researching a business idea, building a business plan, developing a marketing plan, creating financial forecasts to understand the costs of running a business, and identifying sources of finance to help your venture get off the ground.
Since it was set up in December 2015, The Enterprise Hub has, so far, registered more than 5,100 people for enterprise support throughout Sefton, Liverpool, Wirral, St Helens, Halton and Knowsley, which has led to more than 2,000 people receiving intensive support for their ideas, and the launch of more than 850 new businesses.
Enterprise Hub is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
For more information about the support available from St Helens Chamber to start a business, call 0845 340 9980, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.sthelenschamber.com/startup.