When Nick Greenall was made redundant from his job with Cumbria’s career service, Inspira, he knew he wanted to carry on helping young people.
Within a matter of months, he was doing exactly that having set up a community interest company, Creative Communities UK, with assistance from the New Enterprise Allowance scheme.
He said: “We work with young people and communities to develop skills through creative projects.
“My background is in film editing and post production, so we inspire them through digital art and media projects.
“For example, we go into schools to work with youngsters to hone their digital and artistic skills. Then we project their artwork onto buildings.”
The business, based at Bowness-on-Windermere, operates throughout Cumbria and beyond focusing on deprived communities.
Nick said: “I’d been a youth worker and digital arts adviser with Inspira but was made redundant at the end of 2017 when the funding ran out.
“I had this idea to set up a community interest company and was talking through my options with the JobCentre when they suggested the New Enterprise Allowance scheme.”
New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) is a national Department for Works and Pensions initiative to help job seekers become their own boss and self-employed people on Universal Credit increase their income.
Successful applicants – who must be on Jobseeker’s Allowance or certain other benefits, and be referred by their JobCentre – get access to one-to-one support from a business mentor to develop their business plan and get started, plus business workshops, financial support worth up to £1,274 over six months, and the opportunity to apply for a StartUp Loan of up to £25,000.
The scheme also offers one-to-advice and workshops to people who are already trading but receive Universal Credit because their income from self-employment is low.
Nick said: “I found it very straightforward.
“I was referred to the Growth Hub where my adviser, Annie Weir, helped me to draw up a business plan and work out projected income.
“That was a useful exercise. The money from NEA helped to pay for some of the basics such as getting business cards printed. It was all very helpful.”
Creative Communities UK has been trading for just over a year.
“The first year has been good,” Nick added.
“We managed to get funding from the European Erasmus Programme to bring 10 unemployed people over from rural Finland.
“They came to Ambleside to interact with young people here. It was fabulous, with everyone sharing life experiences. All the participants grew in confidence and outlook, myself included. We hope to do more of this.”