A new business workshop prompted two Matlock women to use their joint skills to help local people experiencing mental health issues, memory problems or emotional distress.
Robyn Hughes, a counsellor, and Mary Derrick, an occupational therapist specialising in dementia, joined forces to create The Connection Space Community Interest Company - and a year on things are going from strength to strength.
Robyn and Mary (pictured above) were attending a workshop at Matlock Town Hall when they realised they could work together to offer a unique service. The workshop, for budding entrepreneurs, was delivered by Growing Rural Enterprise Ltd (GRE) on behalf of Derbyshire Dales District Council, which gives business support through the Sheffield City Region Launchpad project.
The pair wanted to be able to provide an individual service to people whose needs were not being met by existing community services.
“The support we have been given has been invaluable. In addition to the advice we have also secured small amounts of grant funding and a super group of volunteers. We even travelled to Austria with Nick Platt and Julie White from Growing Rural Enterprise and benefitted from the good practice we heard about there."
The Connection Space CIC also offers support to individuals caring for older adults accessing the project, and the service has expanded to include men’s group sessions.
Part of their work recognises the therapeutic value of outdoor sessions with animals, plants and the countryside and they work in partnership with other local businesses such as Matlock Farm Park to offer a variety of different ‘care farming’ sessions.
Leader of Derbyshire Dales District Council, Councillor Lewis Rose OBE said:
"It is tremendous to hear about a local enterprise that has got off the ground so quickly and effectively thanks to one of our free workshops, proving that they are a great opportunity for local businesses to start up and grow, and also to network."
With ‘match’ funding provided by the District Council, the project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. Additional funding also comes from the SCR Combined Authority.