Since the pandemic, Barnsley College has seen a record number of businesses launched by its students, with support from the iTrust initiative – here they share two success stories

The iTrust initiative is a joint venture between the College, Barnsley Chronicle and The Business Village which supports students interested in starting up a business. Students have access to an array of information and guidance, including mentoring from the College’s Enterprise team, The Prince’s Trust, industry specialists and local businesses from the College’s Talent United networking community. The scheme can also provide a start-up grant of up to £250.

Jess Widdowson, enterprise team leader at Barnsley College said: “The guidance and support are invaluable to our aspiring entrepreneurs as they get first-hand, practical advice from successful business leaders.

“Talent United partners can devote as little or as much time as they wish and there are some extremely worthwhile benefits associated with the scheme, not least the fulfilment gained from mentoring a young person and watching their business grow. The College continues to Transform Lives and help our students to fulfil their potential throughout this very difficult time.”

Megan Faith Art

Student Megan Timms turned her craft hobby into a career when she launched her business, producing and selling products including jewellery, accessories and sculptures.

Studying Level 3 Digital Design at the College, Megan said: “During lockdown I started experimenting with polymer clay. I made a few pieces of jewellery and loved the process as it was fun to work on something that brought my art to life.

“I have always been interested in starting my own business but often thought I had to be older or didn’t have enough time. Lockdown was the perfect opportunity, and as I’d already designed my own branding in one of my units at College, it gave me confidence to build my brand and design all the elements that go with it.”

Megan invested an iTrust £250 grant in a machine enabling her to make new products. She has also launched an e-commerce website to showcase her products.

Victoria Prendergast

Victoria decided to turn her love of health and fitness into a full-time job after realising she could support her local community to get engaged in sports.

Ex-forces and now studying Coaching, Physical Education and Sports Development at Barnsley College, Victoria will open a bootcamp activity group to host a variety of fitness programmes, creating a safe environment which is accessible by all.

Victoria said: “I am a qualified personal trainer and have been helping local people to stay motivated to keep fit by joining them for runs. I’ve realised a lot of parents in my local area live such busy lives they lack the drive to keep fit and encourage their children to do the same. I see children spending time on devices and gaming, so they are missing out on really important time being sociable and active. I want to encourage an active lifestyle and make activities more accessible.”

Victoria has assisted a nutrition class at her local church which has given her fresh knowledge and skills to advise local people and is also studying a course to enable her to understand autism better and help create an entirely inclusive business. She intends to spend her iTrust £250 grant on insurance for a venue to host fitness classes, and also cover costs to ensure classes are COVID-secure.

Find out more about iTrust or the employer engagement initiatives offered by Barnsley College – visit www.barnsley.ac.uk/enterprise or email enterprise@barnsley.ac.uk