Hairdressing learner becomes a voice for youth entrepreneurship in Wales

Level 1 Hairdressing learner, Debbie Walters, has joined Big Ideas Wales’ team of Youth Entrepreneurship Agents to become a spokesperson for those who dream of being their own boss.

Big Ideas Wales is on a mission to recruit a volunteer team of Youth Entrepreneurship Agents to represent the ‘youth voice of entrepreneurship in Wales’. That’s a goal shared by Coleg y Cymoedd’s Futures@Cymoedd Team, which operates the Enterprise and Employability Hub, a ‘one-stop-shop’ for mentoring, guidance, training, and an internal network of learners across the four campuses.

Though she’d not previously considered starting her own business, after learning about the programme Debbie applied and was enlisted as Youth Entrepreneurship Agent. Wasting no time, she quickly found herself taking part in group discussions exploring the views of aspiring young entrepreneurs across Wales.  

Debbie said: “I applied to become a Youth Entrepreneurship Agent as I wanted to do something new that was different from my course in Hairdressing. After finding out about the role on the Enterprise and Employability Hub and reading more about it, it sounded like a great opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone and grow my confidence.

“Lesley from the Futures Team was more than happy to support me in my application and encouraged me throughout the process despite my nerves.”

As a Youth Entrepreneurship Agent, participants like Debbie benefit from gaining valuable work experience, joining a network of like-minded individuals across Wales, and access to exclusive masterclasses delivered by leading experts and entrepreneurs. Through a series of discussions, participants aged 16 – 25 across Wales contribute to informing and influencing decisions for the future of youth entrepreneurship.

Debbie added: “The discussions allowed me to share my views with new people, discover youth entrepreneurship role models, and meet special guests who are doing amazing things in their industry.

“I felt really nervous at first, I’d never been a part of a role like this before, but came away from the first meeting excited and ready for more. It was such a great feeling being able to be a part of a team of people working to help young people achieve their dreams. I’ve since considered starting my own business in the future which is something that I never once thought of before.”

The youth entrepreneurship service Big Ideas Wales is part of Business Wales and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. The service is aimed at anyone between the age of 5 and 25 who wants to develop a business idea. From bootcamps to workshops, young people considering entrepreneurship are provided with valuable advice and resources on how to kick-start their own business.

Working closely with Big Ideas Wales, Coleg y Cymoedd’s Futures@Cymoedd Team ensures that learners who are considering self-employment have access to resources to bolster their business goals. The Futures@Cymoedd Team also work to open up opportunities for learners looking to explore career options and develop their business and personal aspirations.

Coleg y Cymoedd’s Enterprise, Skills and Employability Manager, Lesley Cottrell said: “Myself and the Futures team aim to provide learners across the college with the support they need to develop their personal skills and confidence. Through opportunities like Big Ideas Wales’ Youth Entrepreneurship Agent volunteer initiative, learners like Debbie are able to benefit from new experiences that can boost their personal and career development.

“I am so proud of Debbie for taking that initiative to apply as a Youth Entrepreneurship Agent and stepping out of her of comfort zone to be a part of such an exciting opportunity. We will continue to support her in her career and personal journey, and look forward to seeing her confidence grow even further.”

Talented teen photographer snaps up new business

A college learner from South Wales has used the lockdown as an opportunity to start his own business and follow his dream of owning his very own photography studio.

Eighteen-year-old Euan Balman, from Llantrisant, is set to open his own studio this summer, after spending the last five months renovating and kitting out an empty workshop in his hometown.

Euan, who is currently studying a Level 3 creative media technology qualification at Coleg y Cymoedd, has been passionate about photography ever since he received a digital camera for his eighth birthday. Since then, he has continued to develop his skills and has spent countless hours photographing Welsh landscapes.

After recently receiving his very first commission for a shot of a sunset over the old town of Llantrisant, Euan was inspired to pursue his goal of becoming a professional photographer and hosting his own exhibition to display his work.

The talented teenager has opted against university, instead choosing to team up with his mum Delyth, who was made redundant from her job in education during the pandemic, suggesting that they create a new family business, ‘MADEcreative’.

The family received a Barriers Grant from Business Wales to help get the business off the ground and have been busy the last five months developing the new studio space, which is located at the old Model House in Llantrisant town centre, with Euan getting stuck in with the renovations to cut down on costs.

As well as hosting a permanent exhibition to display and sell his work, Euan will also offer a range of photography services out of the studio including private commissions, family portraits and product and marketing services for commercial clients, while Delyth will oversee the running of the business.

With the final changes being made to the new space, the studio is due to open at the end of June once Euan has finished college.

Euan said: “I have loved photography for as long as I can remember, especially landscape shots, and have been spoilt for choice living in Wales with so many beautiful places around me to capture. I knew I wanted to make a career out of photography and having my own studio has always been the ultimate dream.

“Due to Covid, I haven’t had the option to have my work on display so I’m looking forward to finally being able to host an exhibition. I’m so excited to open my own studio and to welcome my first clients – it’s been so rewarding seeing everything come together over the last few months. This next year is going to be a huge one for me as I start my career and I can’t wait to see where it takes me. I’m so thankful to everyone who has helped make this possible including my tutors at college, the team at Big Ideas Wales and my mum for supporting my idea.”

Euan has received support to start the venture from Big Ideas Wales – the youth entrepreneurship service part of Business Wales – which is aimed at anyone between the age of 5 and 25 who wants to develop a business idea. The service provided Euan with mentorship and assisted him to develop the business plan that was submitted to Business Wales for funding.

Coleg y Cymoedd’s Futures team, which is dedicated to helping learners at the college bring business ideas to life, has also helped Euan to set up his own business while completing his college studies. The team has helped to connect him with industry partners and supported the entire process.

Lesley Cottrell, Enterprise, Skills and Employability Manager at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “Euan’s obvious skill and passion for photography, along with his clear drive to start his own business has been incredibly impressive and we are proud to have Euan as one of our learners at the college.

“We are pleased to have helped him in his journey and wish him all the best with his new business venture.”

Coleg y Cymoedd’s new garden will give nature a boost

Coleg y Cymoedd is helping to reverse nature’s decline thanks to a new garden scheme from environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy.

‘Local Places for Nature’ is offering communities free packages that include all the plants, tools and materials needed to create small gardens.

The Vocational Access Department at Coleg y Cymoedd will be creating a wildlife and fruit growing garden at their Rhondda campus

Dorian Adkins – Vocational Access Campus Co-ordinator, said: “This initiative will have a fantastic impact on our learners, who will use the area to take part in gardening and work experience activities and start to grow their own fruit and vegetables.”

Deputy Chief Executive for Keep Wales Tidy, Louise Tambini said: “More than ever, people are recognising the value of nature to the health and well-being of our communities. We are delighted that organisations, like Coleg y Cymoedd, now have the opportunity to make a real difference through Local Places for Nature. We know there are many other areas that could benefit from the scheme and we’re urging people to get involved while there are still free packages available.”

The initiative is part of a wider £5m Welsh Government ‘Local Places for Nature’ fund committed to acquiring, restoring and enhancing nature ‘on your doorstep’.

Packages are still available to community groups and organisations. To apply for Local Places for Nature, visit www.keepwalestidy.cymru/nature

Aberdare

Wellington Street
Aberdare
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN

Nantgarw

Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
Cardiff
CF15 7QY

Rhondda

Llwynypia
Tonypandy
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
Hengoed
CF82 7XR

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