Domestic abuse survivor helped to launch business

Yorkshire Housing’s employment and enterprise team has helped a domestic abuse survivor set up her own business after she was out of work for more than three years.

Customer Elizabeth Walker, 46, is now a qualified Reiki master – a complimentary therapy that has its origins in Japan.

Employment and enterprise team leader Nicola Flett and her expert business coaches supported Elizabeth through the journey to self-employment.

With the support of a £250 grant, Elizabeth, a mother-of-one from Malton, North Yorkshire, was able to buy the equipment needed to run her Reiki business from home.

The employment and enterprise team then set her up with her first customers – Yorkshire Housing staff at the housing association’s headquarters in Leeds.

It was done as a trial to give Elizabeth the experience before her business launches for real.

She treated six workers, including investment administrator Byrony Horsley, on June 12.

Elizabeth, speaking at the end of said of that day, said: “Nicola’s been brilliant, setting this up for me.

“It’s was massive step for me and so I’m very grateful to Yorkshire Housing to be able to come and do this.

“It has really built my confidence and I feel I can now move my business forwards.

“I didn’t know the first thing about setting up a business – but Yorkshire Housing have given me all the advice and support I needed and in a way that I understood.”

It crowns a remarkable transformation for Elizabeth, who had not worked since late 2015 due to ill health caused by domestic abuse.

Elizabeth started out as a stablehand aged 16 in 1991.

She worked with horses at various stables in North Yorkshire until suffering a back injury in 2011.

Elizabeth was then employed in an off-licence until she was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) due to domestic abuse.

She turned to Reiki for relief having decided prescription medication was not helping her get better.

The drugs, she felt, were only masking her symptoms and so she decided to find another way to aid her recovery.

Reiki, a form of energy healing developed in Japan by Mikao Usui in 1922, proved to be her salvation.

Elizabeth explained she had suffered from anxiety for most of her life in addition to the C-PTSD.

She said of her recovery: “It shows the healing benefits of Reiki, how you don’t need medication and that it’s possible to overcome it through well-being, mindfulness and natural healing.”

In the meantime, she was referred by a friend, another Yorkshire Housing customer who was receiving support, for help in turning Reiki into a new career.

Nicola and her team support customers like Elizabeth in ways including:

  • Ensuring the business idea is viable;
  • market research;
  • financial planning;
  • legal structures;
  • step-by-step guide to registering a business;
  • and accessing finance through grants and loans.

Elizabeth said: “This has given me the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone, realise that I can do it and that I’ll be fine.

“I think this is a great service. It offers real support – I know that I can email Nicola and she’ll get back to me.”

Daughter Cara, 25, a mobile carer for elderly people in the Malton area, encouraged her mum to go for it.

Nicola said: “Being able to offer Elizabeth the opportunity to practice in a safe environment has really given her confidence a boost.

“We have had some great feedback from the staff who benefitted from the treatment.”

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