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Better Together Care

Kristal Wearne set up her own community micro-enterprise offering care and support to people in West Suffolk at the start of 2023. Here Kristal talks about the support she received from the local Catalyst and why she would encourage anyone else who was interested in setting up on their own to go for it!

I first attended one of the Community Catalyst information events back in Sept 2022 after seeing one of their adverts on social media offering people the support to set up and develop their own enterprises.

At the time I was working nightshifts in my local hospital as a health care support worker, often passing my husband on the doorstep as I came in and he went out to work, and trying to juggle family life with young children.

I have been working in health and social care since the age of 15 when I started working in a local residential home. I worked in various settings including day services and private care before joining the hospital, and it was here that I really recognised how many people could be living at home if they had social care support in place to enable them to do so.

Working for myself had always been something that had interested me; I knew I had the skills and experience to deliver quality care, but I had no idea how to go about setting up on my own and what was involved.

I signed up to attend one of the free events run by Community Catalysts to find out how they could support me, and it was here I found out how the development programme worked. There was lots of information provided around starting your own business and being self-employed.

“I was able to ask questions about things I was unsure of and given the right answers.”

I was able to speak to another enterprise who had been supported by Community Catalysts to set up her own business, and it was really beneficial to me to hear from someone who had been successful in doing what it was that I wanted to do.

I was helped by the local Catalyst, Veronica, who explained to me there was no set time to complete the development programme, and Community Catalysts were there to help me work at my own pace.

I met with Veronica on a number of occasions both in-person and online and was helped to identify the things I needed to put in place, such as developing policies and procedures to meet legal requirements and good practice.

We worked through the framework and I was supported to complete the Doing it Right Standards and build my portfolio. Community Catalysts supported me not only with the legal side of things such as taxes and insurances etc, but also how to promote myself and find work within the local community.

“I was always fully supported and encouraged by the local Catalyst that my business could and would be successful.”

After completing the programme in mid-December 2022, I was ready to launch my business in the new year. Within one month I was fully booked and all of my availability taken. In fact, I was working more hours than I had planned to be.

I offer all aspects of both personal and social care, supporting people to live well at home. I meet with customers to find out what support they not only need but what support they want, as there is often a difference; they may need support to get washed and dressed but they actually might want you to have the time to also sit and have a cuppa and a chat or a walk out in the garden.

“No two days are the same; one day I was assisting a client to do her food shopping and prepare meals after having only eaten soup and cereal for weeks, and the next day I was listening to tales of flying Lancaster Bombers in World War II. It’s an absolute privilege to be trusted and welcomed into someone’s home and to know that you’re making a difference to their lives.”

I’m now in a position where I have a waiting list of potential new customers as and when I have availability. I absolutely love my job and have a sense of great pride that I am supporting people to continue living well in their own homes.

“I’m also working the hours that I choose to work that suits me and my family – I’m no longer surviving on 3 hours sleep after a nightshift whilst setting an alarm to go and do the school run. The impact this had on all of our lives as a family has been a massive game changer!”

To anyone considering entering into the Community Catalyst programme who isn’t sure if it’s for them, I say absolutely go for it. You will be encouraged and supported every step of the way to set up your own enterprise at your own pace, and all of this help is paid for by the local authority so it comes at no expense to you.