A brighter employment future for County Durham residents

Pictured left to right: Mark Heskett-Saddington, Director of SES and project facilitator, Isabella (Helen’s daughter), Michelle Graham, Employment Initiatives Officer at Karbon Homes, Rod Brasington, Chief Executive of NE Procurement and Derwentside resident Helen Lolachie who has already benefitted from the project.

A new initiative to create up to 15 new businesses and encourage 20 people into employment within a year, has been launched in Consett, Stanley and Chester-le-Street.

Newly-established housing provider, Karbon Homes and social enterprise company, Social Enterprise Strategies (SES) have formed a new partnership to give residents living in Derwentside and Chester-le-Street the best possible start to becoming self-employed.

The free service provides local residents aged 16-65 years old, with access to experienced advisors to help them develop their ideas into sustainable businesses and extends Karbon Homes’ successful Brighter Futures employability service, which has already helped 600 clients.

The project has benefitted from a £18,000 grant from leading procurement consultancy, NE Procurement and aims to engage over 100 individuals in the next 12 months by helping them with business planning, market research, marketing & financial advice and exploring how to access small business grants and loans to give them the best possible start to becoming self-employed.

One of the first residents to benefit from the scheme is Helen Lolachie of Greencroft who has been developing her business plan and finding out how to access grants and funds for a crèche she is setting up this September. 

Helen, 29, said: “This is a really good initiative for people like me who are thinking of setting up their own business and need some free help and guidance. At the first appointment, we discussed my business plan and the steps I need to take to launch the business and I am already looking forward to my next appointment.  I would encourage anyone who has a business idea or is thinking of going into self-employment to access this service.”

SES has over 30 years’ experience working with organisations and individuals to provide business development advice and training workshops, which promote the benefits of enterprise and entrepreneurship in local communities.

A qualified member of staff from SES will be based at Karbon Homes’ Greengates House two and half days per week and will also organise appointments from the company’s Catchgate Learning Hive in Front Street, Stanley and remotely via their DigitAL (Stet) mobile unit.

Michelle Graham, Employment Initiatives Officer at Karbon Homes, said: “Our aim is to engage and support as many residents as possible who are looking for help to get back into work, require training or have barriers to employment.

“Since the launch of our Brighter Futures employability service in May 2012, we have successfully helped over 600 residents into employment, training, work experience and courses.

“Our new partnership with SES will further strengthen our service by helping residents back into work.  Self-employment is an alternative route to work and we will support residents like Helen who are either thinking of going into business or have ideas which they would like to explore further.  This is a great opportunity which we hope will create new businesses and jobs within the Derwentside district.”

Mark Heskett-Saddington, Director of SES who is facilitating the project, said: “This is a brilliant and innovative project by Karbon Homes that will demonstrate social and economic impact within Derwentside by creating business start-up opportunities, including social enterprises, with local people who may not otherwise think that business is for them.”

Rod Brasington, Chief Executive of NE Procurement, said: “We’re delighted to have played a part in getting this project off the ground. It’s a great project and will give a number of people in the Derwentside area the opportunity they need to become self-employed.

“We’re excited to see the results and wish Karbon Homes and SES the best of luck with the new service.”

A marketing campaign will be developed to help raise awareness of the new initiative and Karbon Homes and SES will engage with existing residents and local agencies to target new clients.

For more information, please contact Michelle Graham at Karbon Homes on 01207 524 205.