How one woman’s life changed in Dorset

The first round of the Tampon Tax Community Fund saw more than 4,000 local projects share in £3.4 million of funding to run vital projects and services for women and girls across the UK

The first round of the Tampon Tax Community Fund saw more than 4,000 local projects share in £3.4 million of funding to run vital projects and services for women and girls across the UK.

One of these was Bournemouth-based SAMEE, which works with some of the most vulnerable people in society to guide them into self-employment. The charity received a £9,000 grant from Dorset Community Foundation for the Single Mums Into the Lifelong Enterprise (SMILE) project, designed to help single mothers move away from benefit dependency by starting their own business.

Launched in 2019, the project helps to build entrepreneurial skills and increase confidence to raise aspirations, so women can transform their lives and become positive role models in households where no one is in work. So far the project has engaged 21 Bournemouth and Poole based single mothers, with six successfully starting self-employment.

One of these is Charlene, a 25-year-old single mother challenged with a mental health condition who struggled to find any employment opportunities with hours that could fit around her parenting needs. This resulted in her becoming long-term unemployed and socially isolated, leading to severe depression and social phobia.

SAMEE’s CEO Samantha Everard shares Charlene’s story…

Charlene was referred to the project from Poole Job Centre because she had expressed an interest in working for herself as a nail artist. During the first meeting we explored her interest further and discovered that she was fully qualified as a nail technician but needed self-employment skills to help set up her business. We helped her to create a test marketing questionnaire which would prove her mobile nail artist business idea was viable.

As a result of our first meeting, Charlene’s mental health condition improved rapidly. With newfound boosted confidence she received excellent results to the questionnaire and with lots of encouragement from her linked volunteer mentor she engaged with the next phase of our support to set up as self-employed. With expert guidance from her adviser and continuing mentor support, she developed a fully researched business plan and launched her mobile nail technician business in June 2018.

The positive changes to Charlene’s life include increased confidence and self-esteem. By engaging with new customers, her mental health has also improved and she is better able to integrate with the local community. And finally, her financial health has improved with less need to rely on welfare benefits.

Ultimately, our support has enabled Charlene to transform her outlook on life from one of despair and depression to a new life path of joy and pride in becoming a young single parent who is independent and self-employed.

We are thrilled to have played a part in helping Charlene find success in her life, and that’s what SMILE is all about. We couldn’t have started the project without financial support from the Tampon Tax Community Fund.

To find out more about the charity and their innovative SMILE project check out the SAMEE website.

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