Essential Beauty Academy (North East) is a social enterprise which was created in 2016. The academy’s director, Stephanie Holland, has big plans to offer beauty therapy training to people who have lost their way in life, and their confidence. It’s all about making a difference. Here’s Steph to tell us all about the academy and how it’s helping people work their way to a brighter future.
Where did the idea for the social enterprise come from?
I came up with the idea for the social enterprise EBA Futures, due to experiencing some adversity in my life. My mother was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Sadly, the prognosis for this type of cancer is very poor, and there’s very little in the way of effective treatment available for it. My mother’s diagnosis was absolutely devastating, and it made me feel very anxious about my own future too.
I’ve worked as a beauty therapist since 1996, moved into teaching just over 10 years later, then started my own business in 2005. I had worked hard to build up my career from where I started in the back of a tanning salon, but it was soon apparent that my mother’s diagnosis would affect my work.
My mother became very dependent on me to care for her, as I still do. Time spent working on my business has been sacrificed so I can attend hospital appointments, chemotherapy appointments, and emergency appointments which have sadly become necessary as time has gone on.
Throughout the time I have been caring for my mother, I have taken very little time out for myself. I heard about Carers Northumberland through one of my clients. They gave me lots of information and support, plus funding so that I could enjoy some much needed ‘me’ time. I chose to have a night at a lovely hotel and spa, and this made such a difference to me. Providing help and amazing things like this for carers is so valuable.
Carers are the true unsung heroes. They live their life for another person; whether it’s a family member or someone else close to them, they give so much of themselves, emotionally, physically, and mentally, and there is no recognition for it.
My own wellbeing suffered and I was worried about the future of my work. I often wondered whether I would have to give up my business to care for my mother, and it made me realise how many people must give up work to care for people. People leave work, and when their role as a carer ends, they are often left unemployed, with few prospects, and feeling terribly isolated.
I knew deep down that giving up work wasn’t an option, and that when the inevitable happens, I will need my work to keep me focused. I know that this isn’t the case for everyone, and some people choose to be a full-time carer for their loved one.
I thought about Carers Northumberland and how vital the support they offer carers is. I thought about how we could help carers who have given up work to look after someone.
When I taught beauty therapy, it was with the purpose of being able to see others grow and be successful. So what better way to offer carers qualifications, and a path back into work? Not only this, they would have the chance to use their new-found skills on the person they are caring for.
I contacted Carers Northumberland and told them about my idea, and they thought it was terrific, I was thrilled! I was put in touch with a wonderful and extremely helpful man from Northumberland County Council who guided me through the process of turning my dreams into reality. We applied for Awards for All, which is funding from the National Lottery, and we got it!
Who will EBA futures be helping?
Our pilot scheme will initially help people who are carers, who want to take their first steps into the beauty industry and gain the qualifications to get back into employment or self-employment. If you feel like you’ve lost your direction, we are here to change that and get you back on track.
What qualifications and training will EBA futures be offering?
We will be offering VTCT accredited Beauty Therapy Qualifications. These are the industry recognised standard and they will get you into employment. We also plan to offer treatments for those who are really in need of some pampering; we have already been approached by First Assist, a charity for war veterans.
How can people access the training you offer?
If you think that getting some fully-funded training is just what you need to help you get back into work, contact us on 07825 337 7342 for a chat about what we can offer you.
All training is carried out at our training academy which is based in Ashington Workspace. All courses are part-time, because we want to offer flexibility and we appreciate that you don’t have a lot of spare time.
What are the long-term plans for EBA Futures?
We have so many plans! We will continue to grow and support you through qualifications that will help you to secure employment.
We aim to deliver our training to an even more diverse range of people. Our main focus is currently carers, but we won’t stop there. We want to make training and employment accessible for all, especially people who are socially excluded.
Picture-Stephanie Holland (me) and my Mother Helen pre- diagnosis before the caring role began.