After years of working with famous faces as a BBC producer, Emma Clarke decided she wanted a job that was more grounded – so she set up a podiatry business looking after people’s feet.

She accepted redundancy from the Beeb to fund her way through college. Then she sought help from the Government’s New Enterprise Allowance to steer her through the business side of setting up her own practice.

As well as caring for corns and callouses, she offers minor surgery, biomechanic analysis and treatment - which address gait and joint problems that can cause stress, damage and pain – and even hosts parties offering a full lower limb overhaul, with podiatry, reflexology, pedicures and specialist products.

Emma, 44, from Rubery, Worcs, went straight from a media degree to the BBC’s Pebble Mill studios 15 years ago and has worked as director or assistant producer on daytime TV shows including The Vanessa Show, with Vanessa Feltz, and celebrity panel show Call My Bluff.

But as she hit 40, she jokes that she had a professional mid-life crisis.

She said: “It wasn’t a bad thing. I had loved my work for the BBC but I got to a stage where working on TV makeover shows wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to connect more with people, do something for them other than putting them on the TV or making a show.

“Podiatry appealed to me because I had some treatment myself and it made a real difference. It also offered the freedom to be my own boss, set my own challenges and work around my childcare needs.”

After graduating in podiatry earlier this year, she went on to Jobseekers Allowance while working out how to turn her new qualification and skills into a career. When the Jobcentre Plus told her about the NEA and support to go self-employed, she jumped at the chance.

She said: “I had been looking for help because I knew I couldn’t set the business up on my own. I didn’t really know where to start.

“When I went to PeoplePlus, I found all the support I needed. They were absolutely amazing. My business advisor, Tony Walters, filled in the gaps in my own knowledge and helped me through the paperwork. As well as having him on the end of a phone whenever I needed him, I was able to sign up to courses such as financial planning, how to sell and social media.

“Learning spread sheets and accountancy was the most helpful one.”

She launched her business, Elmscroft Podiatry, in November last year, and it has now developed a steadily-growing customer base.

She continued to receive support from us for the first six months of her business.

She said:

It feels great being my own boss. I feel motivated to keep on developing my skills and nurturing my clients and my business. My life is completely different now and I am so glad I did it. I hope my story inspires others to think that it is never too late to change your career and there is help there if you want to.

“Knowing I still have an NEA business advisor behind me makes me 100 per cent more confident.

“My friends who graduated with me and didn’t have that help have found it much harder because there are not many podiatry jobs in the NHS and many are trying to set up a private practice without the support I had.”