With the help of our Enterprise programme, Faye set up a successful business, BearHugs, which brightens the days of others, despite the daily challenges which she faces dealing with long-term chronic illness.

"Until 2013 things were very much ‘going to plan’ for me. I’d graduated from university and moved to the Outer Hebrides to start a dream job in a dream location as a Speech and Language Therapist.

"I loved the work and, despite at times being challenging, it was very rewarding. I made some lovely friends, bought a dog with my boyfriend and spent highly active weekends exploring the beautiful Isle of Lewis.

"Unfortunately, not long after starting my job I started to notice a gradual decline in my health. Around a year later, I had to stop working entirely.

My health deteriorated to the point where I was no longer able to walk, wash or, at times, eat unassisted. I was entirely dependent on others.

When I had to stop working as a Speech and Language Therapist, I was devastated. I loved working with kids, their parents and had fantastic colleagues. 

I had always considered Speech and Language Therapy a ‘for life’ career so when it was something I was no longer able to manage, it was difficult for me to get my head around.

I knew that I needed to find something that I could get that feeling of satisfaction and pride from, but that would also account for my new circumstances. Self employment was a bit of a dream for me and I had no idea how to make it a reality. 

I heard about the Prince’s Trust through my mum. People were fundraising for The Trust at her workplace and had leaflets about the Enterprise programme. She mentioned it and I went straight to the website to register my interest.

I was a little apprehensive prior to starting - leaving the house was still quite difficult for me at that point, and I had no idea how I would cope health wise with attending sessions. 

I had no prior business experience and only the loosest of outlines of a business idea. I was worried that my idea would seem silly and that I was signing up for something that was a bigger commitment than I could manage.

I attended an informal information session where I learned a bit about the programme and met other young people who were interested in accessing it.

From the very start, the Enterprise programme was great. The session, run by Greg who would later become my mentor, was laid back and relaxed. I came away excited and inspired.

I then attended an entirely free course, which ran through a lot of business basics. With absolutely no business background, this was perfect for me and really accessible. I feel like I learned a lot about a variety of topics including book-keeping, tax, marketing and business planning.

Attending the course was a huge personal challenge for me. There were times due to my health that I found it very difficult. When I was open about the difficulties I was having, I found the Prince’s Trust staff to be incredibly warm, supportive and accommodating.

Following the course, I attended a follow up session with another member of Prince’s Trust staff, Chris. Again, I found this session relaxed, accessible and inspiring. I left extremely motivated to proceed to the next step in the programme, writing my business plan.

Throughout the time that I was writing my business plan, my health was variable. Greg was always extremely understanding and encouraged me to work at my own pace, ensuring that my health came first.

Once my business plan was complete, I took it to ‘launch group’, where I talked through my idea and answered some questions about it. This was far less frightening than I thought it might be, and it felt incredible to be launched as a Prince’s Trust business.

I’ve gained more from the programme than I can really put into words. At a surface level I suppose I’ve gained a better understanding of what it takes to run a small business and how to write a business plan. On a more personal level, I’ve gained a huge amount more.

Since starting my business, BearHugs, I feel that I’ve got my identity back. When I fell ill, I lost my job, my independence and a great deal of my social life. With that I also lost a lot of my confidence. 

Engaging with the Enterprise programme has helped me realise that my health doesn’t mean I can achieve any less. I may not be able to be a Speech and Language Therapist now but I can still work in a role that benefits others while bringing me huge amounts of pride and fulfilment.

I have no idea what I would have been doing now if I hadn’t accessed support from The Trust, but it certainly wouldn’t have been running a business I can be as proud of as BearHugs.

I find it so satisfying seeing the orders come in for my business, building the packages and then hearing that recipients’ days have been made.

The Prince’s Trust helped a huge amount. The guidance provided has been invaluable and the grants I was able to access have gone a long way in helping me turn my little idea into a quite literally life-changing reality.

I would absolutely encourage someone who was thinking about seeking support from the Prince’s Trust to go for it. I can’t believe the level of support that is offered entirely for free. I think the Prince’s Trust is a fantastic charity and I would recommend it to everyone.

Find out more about Faye's inspirational business at www.bearhugsgifts.com.