A mental wellbeing training company has taken off – with help from Tata Steel subsidiary UKSE.
YourNorth Veteran Support CIC won the prestigious Free Office for a Year Competition in 2021 at the Ebbw Vale Innovation Centre. A year on, and the business is flourishing and looking at wider horizons.
It was launched by an ex-RAF couple Kelly and Jamie Farr who say that winning the competition was the perfect start. It meant that they could bring forward their start-date, and that turned out to be the right decision.
The business has accessed several sources of funding – UnLtd, Community Foundation Wales, People’s Postcode Lottery, CAF Venturesome, Tai Calon Housing, Blaenau Gwent CBC and The National Lottery. This has enabled them to deliver a range of workshops free of charge to clients, many of whom are from the armed forces community, as well as members of the prison service, police, and they will shortly be going into several schools throughout Gwent to deliver their training.
They deliver a suite of ‘toolkit’ courses, focusing on mental wellbeing, communication, mindset, mindfulness and happiness, in addition to accredited First Aid for Mental Health and Safeguarding training. Jamie says that lockdown and all the associated problems and after-effects of the pandemic created a perfect storm as far as declining mental health was concerned, and the need for support is more pressing than ever.
For a lot of veterans, problems of isolation can be particularly acute. “It may be the first time they have felt they are truly on their own, and there can often be issues with settling into civilian life” said Jamie.
“Our aim is to provide individuals with a toolkit, so they can take ownership of their own wellbeing and thrive.”
Kelly and Jamie have between them 41-years’ experience in the RAF, and enjoy strong connections with veterans support groups and networks with whom they collaborate. Both have been awarded commendations in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List recognising their service to the RAF, military charities and the local community. Jamie has completed many tours of active service in his career in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Winning the competition and being able to launch in the prestigious Ebbw Vale Innovation Centre has proved the ideal start. “Facilities here are excellent, as are the staff. We hold our workshops in the large boardroom and we have delivered training to over 400 people so far. It is the perfect setting for what we are doing,” he added.
During lockdown training was delivered online, but now restrictions are relaxed face-to-face sessions are possible. “It was great to be able work online, but it is far better to be working in person, and is more immersive for clients,” said Jamie.
EVIC offers a mix of high-spec, serviced offices and workshops, and is one of the leading business locations in the Valleys. Tenants enjoy easy-in easy-out terms in a secure setting with ample parking and a gym free to use. EVIC’s owner Tata Steel subsidiary UKSE also provides debt and equity finance to firms with growth potential of up to £1 million. Tenants who meet the investment criterion are able to apply for UKSE investment.
UKSE has offered the Free Office for a Year prize, valued at up to £5000, for the third time in recent years in order to give a new business a springboard.
“We are pleased to provide this support which is aimed at helping a new venture get off the ground. We are delighted that YourNorth has benefitted from being part of our community of businesses here, and that they are providing people with the support they need,” said Gail Hannam of EVIC.