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Have a business idea? Just do it!

A wedding seating plan artist, a console controller fixer and a graphic designer creating journals for children to record feelings about absent family members were just some of the inspiring business ideas developed at a small business workshop in Leek.

Run by experts from PopUp Business School and funded by Your Housing Group to help residents learn new skills and earn some extra income, some 39 people attended the week-long event at Foxlowe Arts Centre in the town.

The course aims to help people turn hobbies or a passion into a business idea, with the potential to earn income, without needing start-up loans or complicated business plans.

Your Housing Group customer Alex Wardle, from Prince Charles Avenue, took up fixing games consoles and controllers after they accidentally broke a console at home.

“We couldn’t afford another one so I fixed it myself,” he said. “I’ve taught myself how to do the repairs out of necessity, but then someone came to me asking me to fix theirs, and that’s how it started.”

With so-called “modded” controllers costing up to £100, Alex spotted a way to earn a small income. He created a website controllerguy.weebly.com and now gets enquiries from other parts of the UK, including most recently a request from Lincolnshire.

The PopUp Business School gave him the confidence to pursue his business idea without first having a comprehensive business plan or start-up funding.

“It was great because the course taught us that it’s a bit of a myth that you need these things to get started,” Alex added. “It was holding me back but now I know I can just do it.”

Any extra income Alex earns will help; as well as looking after his four children he is also a special guardian for his niece and nephew – a kind of foster parent but without financial and social care support.

He wasn’t the only support guardian at the course. Marie Boulton, another Your Housing Group customer from Longnor, cares for two grandchildren full-time and is on a mission to raise the profile of guardians, as well as raise funds so local guardians can take children on a summer day out.

Marie, who runs the specialguardiansmatter.co.uk website and holds a support group every month, said:

“Ten years ago I went on a fully-funded entrepreneurial scholarship to the US but the Pop Up week was I’d say 10 times more useful. Everything Simon said made so much sense and made me realise I just need to do it.”

Your Housing Group owns and manages 28,000 homes across the North of England for people at all stages of life. The Group finances, builds and manages high-quality homes for social rent, market rent, retirement living and supported housing for vulnerable people.

James Coates, Customer First Co-ordinator for Your Housing Group, said:

“This is the third event we’ve run with PopUp Business School and they’ve all been so well received by our customers and local people. Our mission is to create more places to thrive, so as well as managing, building and improving homes, we want to invest in people and give them the confidence to develop their passions and believe in themselves. The PopUp Business School makes people see just how possible it is.”

·       The next Special Guardians Matter support group takes place on 28 June 2018 at St Bartholomew’s Primary School in Longnor, SK17 0NZ.