social impact report & annual statement

Hands On Experience Makes All The Difference

Start Up loan helps deliver purpose, satisfaction and a healthy work/life balance.

Located at the foot of Pen-y-Ghent in the North Yorkshire National Park, Sew Hands On is a platform for local artisans to sell their creations to visitors to this popular tourist destination. Based in the former village shop and Post Office, it also the perfect setting for arts and crafts workshops.

Sew Hands On was a response by Michelle Dickinson, a mother who needed a sustainable work/life balance that supported her day to day life living with a child who has autism.

Michelle said: “I love my job because it gives me the ability to be autonomous and in so doing alleviates the stress of prioritising family commitments - especially those of a child with special needs - with the demands and structure of full or part-time employment within a rural area.”

Although Michelle owned a property to trade from, raising the finance to purchase fixtures and fittings, stock, and business equipment was a huge challenge. Michelle relied on help and support from family, Settle Business Hub and BEF. Sew Hands On started trading on 11th August 2018 thanks to a £8,000 Start Up loan delivered by BEF.

Michelle said: “I have been utterly dependent upon it. Two weeks before opening I had no loan decision, no shop sign and no lead time to get one. Nor did I have a till or a float. I had hardly any crafters and hardly any stock. I lay awake a few nights wondering why I was doing this?”

Within weeks of opening the doors, Michelle seized on an opportunity to introduce a tea room service. This required major changes to the shop layout, an upgrade to its facilities, and the completion of mandatory health and safety training. Thanks to careful management, these additions were funded by the Start Up loan. Timed to perfection, the service was a success from day one as its launch coincided with the arrival of 600 cyclists and supporters for the annual Three Peaks cycle race.

Although established for two months, Sew Hands On has become something other than Michelle thought it would be. It has brought her into contact with people she would otherwise not have met. It gives her purpose, satisfaction and a healthy work/life balance that benefits her family.

Based on her experience, Michelle has plenty of practical advice to offer anyone considering applying for a Start Up loan:

“If you believe in it, and yourself, and have the support of your family and/or friends, feel the fear and do it anyway. Just think about it carefully. Concentrate your energy on building a network of people around you whose knowledge or services could complement your business. Research and training are key especially multimedia. Embrace change and seize opportunities.”

For more information on Sew Hands On visit

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