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Every month we celebrate one business man and one business woman in Torbay who has been doing amazing things in business in the area.

This month’s business woman is Karen Breyley. This inspiration lady runs Friends Helping at Home in Torbay. They are a network of amazing people who offer care to local people. From things to cooking, cleaning and ironing to just keeping someone company if they need it – Karen and her team are making life easier for a lot of local people who need a little bit of help.

This is Karen’s story in her own words…

I am Karen, the Branch Manager of Friends Helping at Home Torbay.

In January 2018 I went into work as usual to be told by my employer that we were going to be made redundant due to relocating to Bristol.

I was then working as a recruitment consultant for Nurses and previously Healthcare Assistants for the previous 2 years.

At 57 it was another blow as I had been previously made redundant from a company who we played a big part in Torbay as a Housing Support Officer, which I had been a part of for 5.5 years.

Having also worked in care years before in different sectors I decided to look for another type of work until I saw an advert for ‘being your own boss for Friends Helping at Home’.

I was very curious and so decided to look this gentleman up on Facebook etc as you do when you are suspicious, and then went for a meeting, we met over the next 8 weeks while I was deciding if I was brave enough and if I could make a go of this position.

I had never been self employed before but my sons and my partner had.

I believed in the type of work we could offer and how needed it was in the community and decided to go ahead and put my fears aside and see how it went.

I have never believed in myself enough to think I could be a ‘boss’ so growing this team we have now and having the clients coming on board from so many sectors in the NHS, the private clients, hospital discharge and families through recommendations and word of mouth. It’s truly amazing!

We have now been going for 18 months and I have client enquiries weekly which we have managed to accommodate with our self employed carers.

We are recruiting on a monthly basis trying to keep up with demand. We are such a personal service that I know every carer, I speak to them when they have any questions. They know I am here for their queries or concerns.

The Clients, I meet them and know nearly every one. Recently being on a holiday my assistant whom I am training up has managed to take on a couple of new clients while I was away.

We don’t like to disappoint anyone and so having the extra help now while I have a week away is crucial.

I believe in the care that the carers provide so passionately, helping clients in many ways, even applying for benefits, getting help with charities if they need something. Providing opportunities for them, getting our gardener or handyman round if they need assistance with lightbulbs, toilet seats or anything else that is stressing them.

We want to keep our clients happy, healthy and safe in their own home and if we can provide help with that then we do.

The difficult parts are when things happen that you do not know what to do, situations that arise or questions you find yourself having to find answers for.

I am very lucky I have the franchisor who I contact and who helps out with anything I need solving.

We work things out together and get through any difficult moments.

The carers have me and each other to talk to and so we all have such a great team working together, I could never have imagined how well this business has grown.

Every one of us self employed even our admin manager.

So if anybody is thinking of becoming self employed for a business you feel is worthwhile and needed and you have a passion for it, believe in yourself, get a mentor if you can to help you through the difficult times but keep going, it is so rewarding.

Make sure you keep your team happy, show them respect and they will respect you.

It will cost for advertising so again make sure you are prepared for that.

We now have letters coming in from family of clients we have supported and cared for, some right to the end. Thanking us all for all the help, care support and comfort given. What more can you ask? I am so proud of the team of professional carers working hard and making sure each client gets everything they need to be happy and healthy in their own home.

I thank them on a very regular basis.

Finally, I asked Karen what her favourite thing is about Torbay…

I have lived in Torquay and Paignton since 1974 and I love this place.

I know that there are things that have changed and some good and not so good but hopefully we can all make a difference in our own way.

I like to think if we can have a positive and happy attitude it will help people improve their lives too.

My favourite thing about Torquay is the people I have met here. Friends, the beaches, the sunsets. So it goes on. We are just lucky.

Thank you so much Karen for taking the time to tell us your story, and we hope your business continues to help lots of local people!

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