WiSEE is happy to share Melanie’s story in this month’s Startrepreneur Spotlight series. This woman’s passion is to help make valuable changes in people’s lives, while also co-directing an exciting social enterprise that aims to make a positive difference within underprivileged communities.
Please introduce yourself and explain your role in the business.
MC: My name is Melanie and I’m the Co-Director of ‘The Hive Events’, I’m a workshop facilitator and I manage my own business. When I’m not directing the Hive Events, I run ‘Melanie Cook Hypnotherapy’, where, based on Neuroscience, I provide professional support to those suffering from the social problems of today.
What type of business do you have, is it a soc ent – or similar?
MC: The Hive is a Social Enterprise developed with the support of UnLtd. We are a group of creative individuals who have come together to make a positive difference within underprivileged communities. The purpose is to assist in providing a healthy alternative to social problems in a fun and empowering way. We do this by organising and creating events for children, young adults and their families including people in vulnerable circumstances.
How did you find the process to start your own enterprise?
MC: I started on the road to social enterprise a couple of years ago after realising there was a great need for a solution-focused approach to the social problems in this area. I set to work to find funding to be able to offer this to those in most need. I came across UnLtd and the Big Local and contacted the local awards manager to apply for funding to bring about a creative community event to engage the harder to reach members of society. My awards manager advised me to apply for a ‘Star People Try It Award’ for £500 to gather the interest from the group I was intending to help. Soon enough the young people started to come forward.
We joined forces with Haydon Village Day which was said to have previously been a less than family friendly event with nothing for the young people to do other than drink and take drugs. The DHI (Developing Health and Independence) group, family and friends came together with their own ideas to make a positive change and embarking on their own healing process. The event was a success and those involved and their families were proud of their achievements. Shortly after, I was awarded a £5000 ‘Do It’ award to pull the event together. As we had already made it happen, I used the award to purchase a 40ft round circus tent, a 24′ x 8′ stage and a trailer to tow it all around in. Since then we have held several events, learning and sharing along the way. We are now being hired for other events and growing in experience and skills. I was recently awarded a £500 Spark Award to offer peer to peer support for other social enterprises, this is being used to create our own website www.thehiveevents.co.uk which, in keeping with the project, has been created by one of the group.
Any particular challenges you were facing?
MC: Challenges faced were to find the time with other business, work, family commitments, financial support to deliver the project and to keep it running. To keep the community involved, engaged and to keep the enthusiasm up whilst running my own hypnotherapy business, caring for 3 children, one with learning difficulties, and pets. Also the challenge of storing all the equipment gathered for the events and sourcing the funds to pay for this.
What’s the best part of launching and running your own social enterprise?
MC: Seeing the dream coming alive and sharing it with others, seeing others shine when they are developing and building in confidence too.
How do you stay positive through the challenges inherent to starting a business?
MC: I stay positive by giving myself time out at yoga each week to keep balancing everything, by writing 10 things down at night that has been good about the day before falling asleep and by listening to my hypnotherapy CD. Also by spending time with positive and inspiring people and finding the time to relax and appreciate my family.
How do you keep a work life balance?
MC: Often with great difficulty. Taking time out to spend with my family and in nature when I can. I am constantly balancing business, family and the project and working at ways to bring it all together. Yoga helps me to balance and writing when I find the time to reflect and create the next steps.
Any recommendations for our WiSEE Network?
• Talk Like Ted! (Ted Talks are a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan “ideas worth spreading”. See inspiring videos about How to avoid living on autopilot, Why we have too few female leaders or How Your body language shapes who you are)
• And see Eden Project Big Local training weekend, absolutely brilliant and full of inspiring awesome people.
• Keep focusing on what is going well to produce more of the same.
Big thanks to Melanie for taking the time to share her story. We hope you will keep an eye out there for future Hive events, or if you are in need to change your life outlook – do some hypnotherapy! See the Hive website http://www.thehiveevents.co.uk/ if you would like to get involved. Connect with Hive on Facebook – if you are full of event ideas.
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