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Social workers use experience to launch day service

PUBLISHED: 09:19 02 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:35 02 June 2017

Amanda Martin and Graham Hope of Independent Lives. Picture: Rachel Hogg

Amanda Martin and Graham Hope of Independent Lives. Picture: Rachel Hogg

Rachel Hogg

Using their knowledge of the care industry two social workers decided to launch a day service after a meeting for a coffee quickly turned into a business plan.

Graham Hope and Amanda Martin founded Independent Lives, which provides activities and care for people over the age of 18 with learning disabilities, in September.

Based at Lodge Farm Barns in Bawburgh, the service is within reach of both the city and countryside which allows it to offer a wider range of pursuits.

The business tailors programmes to suit individuals’ needs and includes opportunities to develop independent living skills as well as art, drama, gardening, swimming, horse riding, and trips to the cinema.

“We also offer families flexibility.” Mr Hope said.

“Our core hours are 9am to 5pm, however we can accommodate our members between the hours of 8am and 6pm. This gives families leeway when they are trying to fit services around their working day.”

The founders are also having to fit the business around their own working lives as both are still in full-time work.

There are currently four members of the team, including a manager, and there are plans to recruit further.

Ms Martin said she was proud Independent Lives had been a success so far.

She said: “It’s a massive change for us, but it has been worth it.

“We see happy faces every day. Families are reassured, and we hear great reports about how much the members enjoy their time with us.”

Enterprise agency Nwes has helped Mr Hope and Ms Martin launch the business, providing advice and a start-up loan to get their premises equipped with what they needed.

This includes a sensory room which can be hired out privately.

Independent Lives has been approached regarding expanding the service further afield outside of the county, but for now plans to concentrate on perfecting the service in Norfolk.

Mr Hope said he never imagined being a business owner five years ago and while it has been hard work, with only one day off since Christmas, they are both working for a project they feel passionate about, and feel proud of what they are doing.

Ms Martin said: “We were both so excited that we just kept going, and it’s been worth it.”

She added her advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs was: “Don’t give up. Stay focused. It’s hard work but you will find a way.”

The pair have plans to grow and are hoping to gradually take on more units within the Lodge Farm Barn complex as they expand.

They were also delighted to be accepted onto Norfolk County Council’s Approved Providers list.

Are you launching a new business? Email businessdesk@archant.co.uk.

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