Laura's Helping Hands

At just 22, qualified nanny Laura Woolley made the brave decision to launch her own business – and hasn’t looked back.

Work experience at a primary school before she took her GCSEs at Winchcombe School convinced Laura that she wanted to work with children and, after qualifying at college, she got a job as a live-in nanny in Cheltenham. It was then she realised that, for potential employees, childcare skills were only part of the picture.

“Busy people often need lots of other people helping them – with their children, the housework and the garden – and often, families are handing out house keys to three or four different people,” said Laura. “So I decided to launch my business which would offer all those potential services – and from one key holder!” Laura was temporarily out of work and on Job Seekers Allowance when she saw a leaflet promoting a day course about setting up a business run by Grant Cozens from Gloucestershire Enterprise Ltd.

“My Jobcentre adviser was very nice, but she kept encouraging me to get a job in a shop or a pub. I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do, so when I saw the leaflet I immediately booked on the course and then found out I could apply for the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme through the JobCentre and as a result, got even more help from Gloucestershire Enterprise!” said Laura.

That help included mentoring to develop a business plan from former Barclays Bank small business manager Janet Towers, who volunteers to help GEL’s new business clients. Added Laura: “The support I have had from Janet and from Grant gave me the confidence to launch Laura’s Helping Hands, and I’ve even had a grant from the Prince’s Trust.

“Laura’s Helping Hands offers a range of childcare services as well as light housekeeping and gardening; I already have a gardener who will work with me and I am so busy, I’m looking for my first full-time employee, so business is looking really good.”

Janet Towers added: “It’s been a pleasure supporting such a determined young woman. I am able to use my experience working with small businesses to give young people advice and support through GEL and I am delighted to be able to help. I’d recommend becoming a mentor, to give something back to the local economy by supporting start-up businesses.”