After months of unemployment, all it took for Sarah Goodfield’s life to change was one week.

That was the amount of time between a meeting with her jobcentre advisor and taking the first step towards starting her own business. Now the proud owner of Sarah Louise Hand Made Bead Jewellery, one of growing number of exciting start-ups in south Wales, Sarah is doing something she loves and is confident it can earn her a living.

Former supermarket worker Sarah was able to turn her hobby for making jewellery into a job with the help of the Government’s New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) scheme, delivered in Wales by public services provider PeoplePlus, to give would-be entrepreneurs expert support, mentoring and financial help to set up their own business.

Sarah, of Swansea, said: “Before this opportunity came up, I was getting really low because I couldn’t see anything getting any better. I was looking for work in retail, supermarkets - things like shelf-stacking, stock-taking - and in cafes, but there was just too much competition and I wasn’t getting a look in. One day, during an appointment at the job centre my advisor asked me if I’d ever thought of going self-employed. It turned everything that I’d been thinking on its head.

“Within a week I had a call from Sheran, my NEA business advisor, and the rest is history.”

Sheran Grey, an experienced NEA business mentor based in Llansamlet, Swansea, gave Sarah all the building blocks she needed to launch the business – helping her navigate HMRC requirements, develop a business plan and to use social media to promote her jewellery. As part of the scheme, Sarah will continue to receive business support from Sheran now that the business is up and running, to help grow her customer base.

Sarah said: “Sheran was great. She made me feel really at ease and because I didn’t know anything about running my own business, she took away all my worries. I felt safe and looked after.”

“If this help had not been available, I think I would probably still be unemployed and in a bad way emotionally. This has changed my whole outlook on life. I have been making jewellery as a hobby since I was a child, and used to sell a few pieces at local craft fairs in my spare time, but I never dreamed I could turn it into a full-time job.”

With the confidence and business sense she has gained through New Enterprise Allowance scheme, Sarah found an outlet for her designs at a shop in The Mumbles, Swansea and she is a regular at craft fairs, selling her beaded jewellery. Sarah added: “It’s helped me feel better about myself. I feel like a somebody. I think to myself: ‘I’m Sarah Louise and I make jewellery.”

Launched by the Government in 2011 to provide support and mentoring for unemployed budding entrepreneurs, the NEA is available to claimants of Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (or their partners) and lone parents or sick on Income Support. Some jobseekers may also be eligible if they get Universal Credit.

  • Sarah will be among nearly 20 local artisans showcasing their work at a two-week long craft fair at Aberglasney House and Gardens in Carmarthenshire. Gower Crafts and Artisans will be selling high quality, handmade work including textiles, jewellery, fused and flame worked glass, ceramics, and leatherwork between 1-14 July. For further information visit Sarah's website.