Young Brit Business Awards

Unemployed Shropshire youngsters who have become “trailblazing” business entrepreneurs are to be recognised for their achievements at the first Young Brit Awards.

More than 100 aged from 15 to 30 are now running their own businesses in the rural county with 85 signing off the unemployment register.

They have opened shops, computer repair companies, web businesses, sports and fitness ventures, set up fashion brands, design and media consultancies, and arts and crafts emporiums.  One youngster is even chopping down trees in a lumberjack business.

The awards ceremony at the Hadley Park House in Telford on June 30 will recognise the success of the “fledgling” businesses over the past 18 months with the help of Young Britain and finance from the Start Up Loans Company.

Young Britain is a business support programme and has been co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund to tackle youth unemployment in Shropshire and help young people to become self employed.

County business duo Graham and Jenny Wynn, who run the TTC Group, a leading UK road safety education organisation, have helped to co-finance the scheme along with Telford & Wrekin Council and Shropshire Enterprise Partnership.

Their TTC Group company head office is next door to the Young Britain HQ at the Hub in Hadley Park which Graham and Jenny provide rent free to help 18 to 30-year-olds start their own business.
“The Young Britain campaign would not have happened without Graham and Jenny’s generous support.  Not only have they provided the premises, they have also given their backing with their time, advice and guidance,” said Young Britain co founder Fay Easton.

“These start up entrepreneurs are now growing their businesses, employing others, outsourcing to small contractors, opening shops in market town high streets and generally helping to regenerate the local economy as well as rebuild their own lives.

“Their experience of self employment is life changing and once they realise that starting a business requires more determination than educational qualifications then the sky is the limit for many who thought that setting up a business was not for them.

“The boost to the economy is now evident in our falling local unemployment figures and nationally, the Office for National Statistics show that youth unemployment is at its lowest for five years. Across all age ranges the biggest change to employment statistics is the massive rise in self employment numbers,” said Fay.

Entrepreneurs and volunteer mentors have been advising the new generation of young start-ups with 92 business and marketing workshops hosted at the Telford and Shrewsbury Enterprise Hubs and more than £400,000 arranged in start up loans through the Government backed finance scheme.

Tom Jones (23) bought essential catering equipment with a Young Britain start up loan and opened the Cambrian Coffee Lounge in his stepfather’s antiques emporium just a short walk from Oswestry High Street.

“We have up to 40 covers and offer speciality coffee, homemade cakes, toasties and snacks. It is going well and I couldn’t have done it without the loan and the advice from the Young Britain campaign in Shropshire. They have been so helpful, “said Tom, a former pupil at Weston Rhyn School who plans to expand the business and open a café in the High Street.
Michelle Hallewell (26), took redundancy as a deputy manager with New Look, for the chance to open her “dream” sweet shop in Newport. Shells Scrumptious Sweets is just off the High Street and was launched with the help of Young Britain.

“I was scared after working in retail for ten years since leaving school and I had just got married. But I had always wanted to open a shop and now I am in charge of my own business and can even walk to work,” said Michelle, who started her retail enterprise, financed by a start up loan last September.
Trading well and with over 200 varieties of sweets in stock, Michelle plans to install a flavoured ice machine and is looking to expand with the opening of a second shop.

She said of Young Britain: “They were really good, very informative, helped me to raise funds and people are there for you if you have a question. They are very welcoming and give you confidence to succeed.”

Bradley Hodson (29) and his partner Nicky, opened Nicknack Crafts Co in Crown Street, Wellington in April offering “rent-a-shelf” to other artisans. They plan to expand into other market towns and open craft workshops for up and coming “one man bands.”

Bradley praised the support from Young Britain which he credited with giving them the confidence to start their own business.
“We have attended many of the free business seminars at the Enterprise Hub and learned a lot from the in-house mentors.   Just being there gives you a buzz.  All the Young Britain Team give you sound business advice and then starting out on your own doesn’t seem so scary. The Young Brit Awards will be a chance to see all the successes,” said Bradley.

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