DOZENS of people are now running successful businesses thanks to the support of East Durham Business Service.

During the last financial year, the organisation helped over 70 people to pursue a path into self employment and of those more than 50 are still trading.

Among the businesses which are going from strength to strength are an IT consultancy, a plasterer, a domestic cleaning firm and a handmade crafts company.

And Denise Fielding, Operations Director at East Durham Business Service, thinks the statistics back up her belief that the area is nurturing a thriving entrepreneurial culture which is helping change the business landscape of the area for the better.

Denise said: “For too long this area has been shown in a negative way and in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. But organisations like ours which are on the ground providing support to individuals and new and growing SMEs know that there is so much to shout about.

“These statistics show that there are people out there with genuine ambitions to pursue self employment who, with a bit push in the right direction and someone to support them, can turn their vision into a reality.

“And what’s even more encouraging is that of everyone we supported into self employment, more than 70 per cent are still successfully trading and seeing their business go from strength to strength.”

East Durham Business Service sees hundreds of people every year who come to them with aspirations of starting their own business. Some have come via Jobcentre Plus while others are in employment but feel the time is right to explore the possibility of become self employed.

One of the people who has benefited from the support of East Durham Business Service is Emma Summerill. The 35-year-old from Peterlee opened her business, Emma Isabella Floral Design, after an opportunity for support came up through the Jobseekers Allowance programme which she was signed up to.

With the support of business advisor Hina Joshi, Emma was able to access a loan through the New Enterprise Allowance programme, which enabled her to secure a unit in Horden. However, within months she’d outgrown it and moved to her current premises at York Road in Peterlee.

Emma said: “Since moving to these larger premises the business has really grown and I am now completely booked up for weddings until the end of the year which is great.

“I really do love it and owe so much to East Durham Business Service as without them I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have. I would recommend them and self employment to anyone.”

The publication of results from the last financial year rounds off a successful period for the organisation, which has included strengthening its team with the appointment of a business advisor and external communications consultant; helping dozens of young people into employment or apprenticeships; expanding the portfolio of support if offers to include growing as well as pre-start and new SMEs; and the increase in occupancy of Novus 1 in Peterlee and Novus 2 at Spectrum Business Park in Seaham.

Denise added: “After undergoing a significant restructure and reviewing all elements of the service and support we offer to individuals and businesses, it’s encouraging to record results which show that what we’re doing is working.

“Thanks to the efforts of the team, there are now more than 50 people running their own business who this time last year were either unemployed or unhappily working for someone else. For me this is testament to the growing entrepreneurial spirit in this area and is yet another reason to be proud of what we as an organisation and East Durham have to offer.”