Six years ago, martial arts instructor Brin Sheridan was told he’d probably never walk again after breaking his back in an accident during a karate exhibition at his academy. Now he's back in business.
Brin spent two years in a wheelchair and two more on crutches, relying on disability benefits and struggling to find work or a permanent place to live. Brin’s health deteriorated: he was diagnosed with a degenerative disc disease and Crohn’s disease, a condition that leaves many patients with extreme fatigue. In 2010 he was struck by a heart attack.
In those years, Brin lost his home and his livelihood, living for a while in the martial arts academy building until he was made to leave – ending up, in his own words, “pretty much living on park benches”.
Becoming homeless was the trigger for Brin to start putting his life together.
With support from a variety of local agencies and reliant on disability benefits, Brin was able to rent a small flat.
“I said to myself, I can’t live on benefits. I need my independence, my pride and my self-esteem back. I resolved to get back into work, and I can be very determined!
“The local authority helped me with a back–to-work strategy and I found a part-time work placement in Bristol, but that only lasted a year.
“Before setting up my own mixed martial arts business, I’d worked in contracting – I still had lots of contacts and needed to get into work, so I decided to set up on my own as a building contractor. I took on two apprentices, Lucas and Justin [pictured left and centre below]. My nephew was an accountant and he helped me to form the company. Things started out OK, but we weren’t getting much work in.”
By this point Brin was renting a Curo home, with the security of a lifetime assured tenancy.
“I mention my work situation to my neighbourhood manager, James Lewis, and he put me in touch with Curo’s new Employment, Training & Engagement Coordinator, Lisa Wroe. Since then, things have moved fast.
“Lisa visited me at home and I was staggered by the number of contacts she had. She recommended I get listed on sites like MyBuilder.com. I was hooked up with City of Bath College who enrolled my two apprentices onto NVQs. We got in touch with a social media training company called Cool Ventures and my business may even be put forward as an approved contractor for Curo.
“Curo helped me create a business plan, a cash flow forecast and open a proper business bank account. I’ve started going to business networking meetings and I’m now getting all the support I can as a business, like the New Enterprise Allowance.
“If Lisa hadn’t come along, I’d never have known where to go to give my business the kick-start it needed.
“My advice to any Curo customer looking to get into work is, get stuck in. Don’t be afraid of speaking to Curo. They have never prejudged me – they’re just there to support you. I found it great to have that backup.
“I was taking a bit of a leap of faith, but there’s plenty of support out there that will give you the confidence to give it a go. Try Curo, they won’t leave any stone unturned to make things happen for you.”
If you are a Curo customer looking to get into training or employment, or want to start your own business, contact Lisa Wroe, Curo Employment, Training & Engagement Coordinator on 01225 366000.