Customer Stories

Maree turned around her life “I did something about it and now I’m supporting others”

06 July 2016

Before Prospects 

Maree was on Employment Support Allowance for over a year with few prospects of finding full time employment. 

Maree’s life hit a low point when she underwent knee surgery.  Maree’s lack of mobility was exasperated by depression, which led to her losing her home whilst recovering in hospital. Prior to her knee surgery Maree had found it increasingly difficult to cope with bills and paperwork, following a family bereavement.  Unfortunately, a combination of denial and lack of coping skills resulted in Maree being evicted from her home in Morecambe. 

With no reason to stay or home left in Morecambe a friend came to Maree’s aid and offered her a flat in Cheddar, Somerset.  Whilst it was a big and daunting change, Maree moved 250 miles to start a new life.  However, she found the local employment market stagnant and struggled to find full time work, spending over a year on Employment Support Allowance. 

What Prospects Did

Maree was referred to Prospects, who run the Work Programme for the DWP in the South West.  Working with her on a one to one basis and in group sessions Prospects adviser, Keith, recommended Maree join an entrepreneurship course aimed at providing jobseekers with the skills and confidence to start businesses. 

Prospects advisers identify candidates to join the group, who they feel would benefit from attending the six sessions. The course helped Maree overcome barriers giving her the tools and confidence to start her business. Maree found the content relevant and inspirational.

With her new-found confidence Maree decided to celebrate the success of the group by organising an event for the businesses successfully launched following the course. Supported by Prospects, Maree hosted a networking session for 12 new businesses from Somerset, including all of the businesses created by course members, previously people who were long term unemployed. 

Outcome and results

Maree had found breaking out of long term unemployment challenging.  Local opportunities are limited and the employment market is fairly stagnant. Maree felt the longer she was out of work, and the longer the gap on her CV, the less attractive she was to employers.   However, Maree is rightly proud of breaking out of this mould and aims to be a role model for others in a similar situation. 

“The challenges we have come through to make it to this point have been huge for most of us.  In overcoming these and fighting through to where we are now I hope we will become real role models.”

At the event Maree was thrilled to be told by people, considering self-employment, they had been sceptical but now believed it was possible. The connections made at the morning event will enable the businesses to take things to the next level.  

Over the past year Maree’s business, Cheddar View Enterprises, which provides business support to local businesses, has grown its client list. However, Maree did not want to end her involvement with Prospects and inspired by her own experience Maree started volunteering with Prospects and mentoring people looking to break-out of the cycle of unemployment. 

Earlier this year Maree was also offered a permanent administrative role with Prospects and has twice told her story at events held in the Houses of Parliament. Her first hand experience of beating the cynicism she encountered is living proof that adversity can be overcome, and Maree is inspiring those she works with to seek a better life for themselves. 

A couple of years ago Maree was homeless, hospitalised and unemployed; today Maree is a successful business owner, mentor and inspiration.

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