A one-stop-shop offering support and advice on everything from benefits to employment has been launched in East Durham.
Full Circle North East, based in Novus Business Centre, on Peterlee Business Park, is the brain child of cousins Kirsty Campbell and Leanne Knight.
The pair set up the bureau after finding there was a lack of accessible advice and information on benefits, services, and training, for people living in the Peterlee area.
Kirsty and Leanne, who are both mums, took the brave move of leaving their jobs with a training provider in December last year, and went full steam ahead to launch Full Circle North East on January 4 with plans to expand Full Circle North East into the Hartlepool area.
Kirsty, a mum-of-one who is also vice-chair of the Durham branch of the charity, National Children Trust (NCT), said: “It was very nerve-wracking leaving our old jobs and launching Full Circle North East, but we’re so glad that we did.
“Peterlee is massively lacking in a one-stop-shop for people to go to when they require information, advice or guidance on issues they may be experiencing.
“For example I found myself pregnant and out of a job and I wanted to know how I was going to survive and what benefits I was going to be entitled to.
“It took me hours and hours of searching to find out the information, not only because I had to wait three-weeks for a drop-in session appointment with a local Citizens Advice Bureau, but also because I had to ring so many different places to get what I was looking for.
“We wanted to provide a service where all of that type of information is accessible under one roof, as well as the training and business start-up side – and that’s what we’re doing.
“Leanne is a really good trainer, and I’m good at the policy and procedure side of things, so together we do make a good team.”
Leanne, who has three children aged from 11 to one-year-old, added: “Kirsty and I have always been really close from being very young, so it felt natural to go into business together.
“We came up with the name Full Circle North East after saying that we wanted to provide a service that would go full circle – it went from there.
“The service is currently aimed at people living in East Durham, but we are going to branch out into Hartlepool.
“Anyone at all, from lone parents, unemployed people, volunteers, and those who find themselves in unknown circumstances, are all welcome to use the service. We wouldn’t exclude anyone.”
The Full Circle team, who are currently self-funding the initiative in anticipation of grants and external funding, have already started to field queries from members of the public.
They have an aim to help a minimum of 100 people within the first year.