Unemployed to enterprising

Maria Ellingham had not worked full-time for a decade after having children. She then became a single parent who had the will to work but lacked the way. She was a qualified reflexologist and wanted to set up her own business, but she needed to find the confidence and to learn the skills of self-employment.

Yet in July, two months after taking part in a council-commissioned scheme, Ellingham launched her own reflexology business. A former account manager at a cosmetics company, she is among 54 people helped into employment or self-employment through Central Bedfordshire and Bedford borough councils’ building enterprising communities scheme.

Read more about the scheme to help people off benefits and into self-employment offers lessons for all service contracts on the Guardian local government network.

Maria with her children in her treatment room