An enterprising woman from North Tyneside is turning her passion for volunteering into a new business venture designed to help individuals unlock their full potential and gain valuable employability skills.
Kelly Oliver Dougall, 38 years old from Whitley Bay, has launched Cygnet Careers with the help of TEDCO Business Support which provides a wealth of practical advice and guidance to people throughout the region looking to set up their own commercial enterprise.
Having worked in the voluntary sector for 12 years with organisations including AgeUK and Mental Health Matters, Kelly gained first-hand insight into the benefits gleaned by the volunteers themselves. As well as providing valuable and much needed support, those who undertook volunteer responsibilities were able expand their own skill sets, gain essential workplace experience and recognise the value of the contributions they were able to make.
After being made redundant, Kelly was keen to channel her years of experience into an area which could support those who may be struggling to find permanent employment either through a lack of particular skills or needed a boost to their confidence by being shown how best to utilise the knowledge they had. She set about establishing Cygnet Careers to work with individuals , as well as supporting a range of organisations with a vested interest in improving the opportunities of local people.
Kelly Oliver Dougall said: “Volunteering is a very tangible way of enabling individuals to grow and improve, have increased interaction within their communities and, over the course of time, gain the confidence and develop the skills which will stand them in good stead to be able to go on and secure employment.”
She added: “Volunteering is about so much more than someone simply doing something in their spare time, to work in a charity shop for example. Of course, people who volunteer in this way make a valuable and significant contribution; but for individuals who ultimately want to improve their career prospects or who have perhaps not had the opportunities available to them for various reasons, volunteering can offer a route to unlocking future potential.”
Kelly had many years of experience in volunteering but having never run her own business, she turned to Allison Cowen, business advisor at TEDCO Business Support who introduced the New Enterprise Allowance scheme and provided Kelly with the help and support that she needed to get her venture off the ground.
TEDCO Business Support delivers the New Enterprise Allowance scheme across North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Darlington and provides help to eligible candidates aged 18 and over considering self employment.
Allison guided Kelly through everything she needed to consider including developing a business plan, marketing advice, networking and establishing clear business objectives.
She said: “It was evident from our first meeting that Kelly is passionate about people and helping develop their career choices and development. With a keen desire for supporting people in the local area Kelly has worked exceptionally hard to get her business up and running. She has been a pleasure to work with and I know that as time goes on her business will go from strength to strength.”
Since launching Cygnet Careers, Kelly has secured a contract working with Whitley Bay Big Local to help co-ordinate the Big Lottery funded community group’s volunteers as well as working with individuals in the town to develop and improve their own employability skills.
Kelly Oliver Dougall added: “The New Enterprise Allowance scheme and the support which I received from Allison and TEDCO have been fundamental to me being able to put myself in a position where launching and running my own business is now a reality. More and more people and organisations are recognising the range of benefits that being a volunteer and volunteering can bring and I’m looking forward to helping make a significant contribution to growth and community integration in our region.”