Micro Enterprise – A parent’s perspective

Helen Neale is the mother of Tom, who left school with the ambition of having his own lawn mowing business.

In the middle of 2016, I heard of CLP’s Micro Enterprise Project through a friend, and I immediately became interested in what they could offer my son who would soon be leaving school.
Tom was not at all interested in working in supported employment, and we felt that he wasn’t being encouraged by school to do anything but, so it was a relief to come across CLP who had the same vision for our son – to work in the local community doing something he was good at and loved!

Tom had been doing some work experience at a Nursing home helping the groundsmen, and he also enjoyed cutting our lawns, so with the assistance of the Micro Enterprise Project we helped Tom set up his own lawn mowing business, Ground Control by Major Tom.

Through a gradual transition, Tom was able to finish school and go straight into working in his own micro business. This really helped him feel less anxious about life post school, and it raised his self-esteem to be able to tell people what his plans were.

Because Tom is eligible for day options, we have been able to use this funding via CLP to employ Craig, as Tom’s Enterprise PA 3 days a week, from 9.30-3.

Having Craig assist Tom on the job means that he can offer a full, top quality service, as Craig does the things Tom can’t do such as drive to the jobs, whipper snip, and remember to bring home all the equipment!

Tom has been very fortunate to have lots of support from family, friends and the local community. The local Lions club donated Tom’s equipment, and he already has 12 regular customers. Ground Control by Major Tom has a facebook page with over 500 followers, and Tom also regularly does his own mail box drops to obtain new customers.

Being an outdoor job the major challenges have been the weather and stepping on dog poo (!) but mainly these are quite easily overcome and the benefits far outweigh any problems. Tom has lost weight, grown a foot in self-esteem, and generally is very happy.

We believe that Tom functions at his best when surrounded by supportive people in a mainstream environment, and our common goal is for Tom to be working in a satisfying role and contributing in a positive way to society. So far Tom having his own lawn business has fulfilled this goal, and he is enjoying his independence and post school life very much.

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