Startup had a ‘Dragons Den’ event and filmed a focus group discussion. Tanya Tracey, the Peer Mentor Manager explains more…

Startup conducted a Dragons Den event whereby we arranged for women who are interested in Self Employment to take part. It was a way of engaging our current and past clients in the activities to capture the information needed for the project.

Startup_image3We wanted to showcase the work of all clients and eight women had stalls at the event to display their businesses. There were a variety of things on offer:
Handmade Jewellery
Handcrafted chocolates
Organic Beauty products
Homemade chutney

From 4pm six women presented their business ideas to the panel of Dragons which was made up Startup_image4of four successful business people, two of which were ex-offenders. The pitches were great and they all had exciting ideas for which they needed funding for. All six women were funded tools and equipment to get their business up and running.

Startup_image2All of the women that Startup supports were keen to get involved in the: I am a Women First and Last project. They wanted to demonstrate what they can achieve with the right support. They also wanted to demonstrate their abilities and talents and the positive impact it has on their lives. They brought along their family members and it was a real positive occasion.



Startup also held a focus group with five women to discuss issues that concern them within the criminal justice system and how it has affected them in the past and how it will affect them in the future. This day was to focus in detail on what the project is trying to achieve and to capture in more detail the voices of our women that have been affected by the criminal justice system.

The women that took part have all been in prison and are trying to make positive changes in their lives by accessing support to become self-employed. They also engage with the Peer Mentor Project at Startup to get additional support and advice from their peers.

The women were very passionate and all agreed that more support should be given inside prison to help women with employment once released. The support they received was either very limited or not relevant to employment outside prison. They all believed that self-employment was the only option they can choose and as a result believed funding should be given to organisations to help women that decide to go down this route.

The women thought that peer support was a good way to move forward so that there is a common understanding of what they are going through when they leave prison and trying to fit back into society having been away for so long.

Overall the women were pleased that they took part and that their views and opinions were listened to.

Tanya Tracey
Peer Mentor Manager, Startup

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