Experts by Experience: Profiles of entrepreneurs at different stages on their journeys, identifying and sharing some universal truths along the way.
Family relationships are obviously important to Hayley Couldridge. It was her own mother’s encouragement that led her to set up BFF – Breaks for Families – a provider of respite care – giving tailored temporary care to disabled children to give their family members a break.
At the age of 16, it was while tagging along with her mum to give extra support to a young man with particularly challenging behaviour that Hayley discovered she had a natural ability, and the necessary patience, for giving such one-to-one support. The tangible reward for that effort was progress for both the carer and the cared-for family member.
As Hayley explains “Within 18 months, my mum decided I could do it on my own. I took the young man swimming and bowling, and encouraged him to develop some independence in the community away from his parents. I’m now working on building up his self-esteem and confidence.”
It’s clear that Hayley is inspired by the remarkable progress she can see in the nine families with whom she now works through BFF. She relates the story of a boy with severe epilepsy. “He was 13 but had the ability of a four year old. 16 months ago he was moved to a mainstream school and he’s now thriving and has developed an interest in cooking. He’s more confident and will go and ask people for help. His ability is now close to his age – such progress in just 16 months is amazing.”
I ask Hayley about the secret of her success and she responds without hesitation. “The USP [unique selling point] is BFF’s tailored package of support for the whole family, not just the particular child.”
Maybe her ability to relate to young people trying to make their way in the world comes from Hayley’s empathy with them. “At 23, I’m young and inexperienced” she says “But my advice to others is not to let your age and level of understanding get in the way of seeing through your vision or achieving your ambition. You are the expert in your particular field.”
For many, BFF means ‘Best Friends Forever’ and for a very lucky few it also means Breaks for Families. And those young people are lucky indeed to have Hayley as a ‘best friend’ who clearly loves her work.
“Working with children with disabilities is so very rewarding. The smile on a young person’s face when they have achieved something or had fun gives you such a good feeling inside. It’s the best job in the world.”
To find out more about Breaks for Families, contact Hayley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 07883578976. You can also find Breaks for Families on Facebook and Twitter @Breaks4Families
Hayley is in the 2013-14 cohort of learners with the School for Social Entrepreneurs on
the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Programme at the Eastern Enterprise Hub in