'I have gone from just living a life to loving the life I live.'

Our Community Connections South work project, which is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund, supported Philippa Sjoberg to improve her mental health and wellbeing and ultimately start her own dog training business – Paws-Ability.

Here Philippa writes about the help she received…

“I first heard about Building Better Opportunities through a friend who worked at a local social enterprise.
I have complex pain and peripheral circulation conditions and, as a result, I have had to use a wheelchair for the past six years. I also struggled with my mental health and general wellbeing.
I have an interest in a specific way of training dogs called concept training. I wanted to look at ways of developing this into a meaningful activity because I know that being around and working with dogs brings me great joy – and improves my general sense of wellbeing.
I had an idea of starting a not-for-profit dog training business and was looking for advice and support to make this happen.
With my BBO advisor, we looked at business planning, lesson planning, marketing and finding a suitable venue for classes to take place.
The most useful part of being on the project was the support I had to raise money for a new wheelchair through approaching trusts and applying for grants.
I needed something more bespoke and with my advisor’s help, we got the funding for a new wheelchair which included a drawer for dog treats and poles that I could attach leads to.

As a result of my participation on the project, I have a new sense of purpose.

I have a small business teaching and training and I have a wheelchair that has opened up areas of my local community that were off limits to me.
It has made a big impact on my general health and wellbeing. It has changed my whole outlook on life. I used to crawl out of bed in the morning but now I have a real passion for life.
I have gone from just living a life to loving the life I live.”

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