Awards mark a glit­ter­ing end to amaz­ing jour­ney

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Lettings -

A WOMAN who re­turned to work and set up her own busi­ness af­ter over­com­ing the se­vere men­tal ill­ness that had con­fined her to ben­e­fits for 25 years has spo­ken of her pride at be­ing short­listed for the Peo­ple of the Year awards.

Louise Jes­sup, of Ald­ing­ton, at­tended the RADAR event in Lon­don ear­lier this month as one of the 10 peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties on the short­list.

Al­though city banker Jonathan Naess was the over­all win­ner Louise said: “Men­tal ill­ness is too of­ten a Cin­derella prob­lem. One that is sadly over­looked.”

Louise now works at Tesco and, with help from the Busi­ness Link’s En­ter­prise Gate­way Ser­vice in South Kent, has launched creative tex­tile com­pany, Bum­ble De­signs. Hav­ing used tex­tile work as a release dur­ing her ill­ness, she is hop­ing to turn her pas­sion into a prof­itable busi­ness. Some­thing she couldn’t have con­tem­plated dur­ing her ill­ness.

She ex­plained: “My prob­lems be­gan within three years of start­ing work. I was a hospi­tal phys­io­ther­a­pist but lost that ca­reer at the age of 25 and it looked as if I might never work again.

“For 25 years I was en­tirely re­liant on ben­e­fits and at one point I was de­tained for six months un­der the Men­tal Health Act. The jour­ney out has been quite mirac­u­lous.”

She puts the trans­for­ma­tion down to a com­plete re­view of her treat­ment and his­tory. With the right med­i­ca­tion and coun­selling she was able to turn the cor­ner and took an IT course at South Kent Col­lege and was named Dover Har­bour Board Stu­dent of the Year for 2004/5.

Hav­ing started back in paid work on four hours a week at Tesco, Louise grad­u­ally upped her hours and took on more re­spon­si­bil­ity. Keen to use her love of tex­tiles and her em­broi­dery skills she signed up to take part in a project at the En­ter­prise Gate­way. Called Go Ahead, it was tai­lored for women think­ing of set­ting up a busi­ness.

She said :“We were taken through all the as­pects of run­ning your own busi­ness, while dif­fer­ent work­shops gave us ex­cel­lent prac­ti­cal help.

“Go Ahead built my con­fi­dence and self-es­teem to the point where I was able to launch Bum­ble De­signs. It was a very pos­i­tive project and all the women who took part, even those who chose to con­tinue in their ex­ist­ing ca­reers, ben­e­fited from the work­shops.”

Louise now gives talks to busi­nesses about em­ploy­ing peo­ple with a his­tory of men­tal ill­ness and sup­ports the Kent Mind­ful Em­ployer ini­tia­tive, which en­cour­ages busi­nesses to en­gage with the is­sues of stigma and dis­crim­i­na­tion and men­tal well­be­ing.

She added: “I hope I can be a bit of an am­bas­sador and in­spire peo­ple to use the ser­vices avail­able to them.”

Ja­son Martin, di­rec­tor of the En­ter­prise Gate­way Ser­vice – South Kent, said: “Louise goes to show that with the right at­ti­tude and the right kind of help you can over­come any­thing. We’re very proud of ev­ery­thing she’s achieved.”

Louise’s de­signs can be found at www.bum­ Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about Kent Mind­ful Em­ployer is avail­able at nt­mind­fulem­

For more in­for­ma­tion on Busi­ness Link ser­vices call 0845 600 9006.

Bear­ing Boys staff ready for action

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