A beauty and holistic therapist from Newcastle who set up her own business after 15 years out of work has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.
Single parent Andrea Barnes, 52, is on the shortlist for Significant Achievement of the Year at the ERSA Employability Awards in June.
Andrea, who has Fibromyalgia, set up All About You in 2018 after support from the Links to Work employability programme in the North East, run by Fedcap Employment. Her business offers beauty and holistic therapies such as massages, aromatherapy, manicures, pedicures, and gel polish.
Andrea was nominated for her hard work and dedication to combat her obvious pain and launch a new business, which now helps people who were in her position.
She said: “After being made redundant from my job in London, I decided to move back to Newcastle to bring up my girls and care for my mam and dad. After a while, I retrained in health and social care but was in constant pain. It took two years to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.
“But then I just sort of gave up. I’d just sit on the sofa all day, setting alarms to pick the kids up from school.”
But after one of her children suffered a back injury, Andrea turned her attentions to therapies.
Andrea added: “I did some work for the clinic that helped my daughter and things moved on from there. I had something to get up for. They sent me on a manicure and pedicure course, and then sports massage. Before long, I was qualified and was in a position to help other people.
“I had the idea of setting up a new business, but I didn’t really know how to. I didn’t have the confidence. Joanne at Links to Work was great. With two or three sessions, my confidence started to come back and we started to put a plan in place.”
Joanne McLauchlin, Business Consultant at Fedcap Employment, said: “We are all so proud of Andrea and how in such a short space of time has gone from being in severe pain and no real direction to being a business owner giving back to those who suffer everyday with pain. “She is back to being the positive and driven persona that she once was and now facing challenges head on and being a true inspiration to others out there who are either lone parents or suffering from health conditions. Andrea has proven that with the right mind set and that little bit of sparkle anything is possible.”
Speaking of being shortlisted for the award, Andrea said: “I can’t believe it. I’m dead excited. I don’t really see what I’ve done as a big thing, but it’s nice that other people do. I’m just happy I can give something back. I want to make people feel better about themselves. I was existing before, not living. I’m making up for that now.”
Funded by the European Social Fund and Department for Work and Pensions, Links to Work is a voluntary programme providing tailored support for people with multiple barriers to work, including those with disabilities, on their journey towards employment.
The winners of the ERSA Employability Awards will be announced at a special ceremony on 20 June, attended by the Minister for Employment, Alok Sharma MP.
To find out more about Links to Work, visit www.linkstowork.co.uk