Community micro-enterprise

Community Catalysts case studies

Our local Community Catalyst, talks about how we've helped community micro-enterprises (CMEs) to get up and running.

Make Every Adult Matter Service (MEAMS)

It is important that we find creative ways to support people in our communities to live a good life and my work with community catalysts has allowed me to work closely with those making this a reality.

Community Catalysts make sure that people, wherever they live, have real choice of great local social care, health services and other community resources.

In Central Bedfordshire the community micro-enterprise (CME) project has encountered a real movement to have a strong asset-based approach and continuous partnership working between health, social and voluntary sectors. They have had the privilege of connecting and working with a variety of creative people who epitomise the spirit of community. People who get into the world of social care supporting people not for recognition nor enormous financial gain but for an opportunity to positively impact the lives of others, put a smile on a face and break down barriers preventing people having a good life.

Two such people are Laura and Martin who, together, set up their own CME, Make Every Adult Matter Service (MEAMS), with the determination to break down the barriers faced by adults with a learning disability and older people when it comes to their abilities to engage in everyday activities that maintain their independence. 

Our mission is to put the customer first at all times and encourage them to build confidence, relationships & enjoy their community. Every adult has wishes of things they want to do, whether a simple shopping trip, a meal out, a trip to the theatre, assistance with their shopping or finances and much more.

One of our clients Kevin, has activities during the week but nothing at weekends resulting in him becoming extremely bored especially on Sundays. Since joining us Kevin plans his days out, he has a love of animals so we often go to the R.S.P.C.A or an open farm. Kevin also enjoys the cinema & eating out, very much trying a variety of cuisines each time. And therefore, Sundays are always based on Kevin’s wishes and as a team we often learn as much from Kevin as he does from us.

Laura and Martin, MEAMS

Providing a service during the evening and weekends, which are traditionally more difficult times to get such support shows an example of how adaptable CMEs can be to a market demand. This also helps with providing respite for family carers who can also have breaks at times they may most need it. 

I met MEAMS at the networking event for micro providers and subsequently got in contact with them as I felt they would meet the needs of the clients I was working with. These are clients who struggled to fit in with the standard care package provision as they needed more of a one to one service which also provided them with choice and flexibility. The input form MEAMS has been a great success and the outcomes are positive. Laura and Martin have been able to put preventative measures in place, such as supporting clients with accessing benefits, attending hospital and GP appointments, shopping and preparing healthy meals. These clients have now gained their confidence back and are looking forward to the future which they had given up on.

Nyarai Maziso, Social worker OPPD

The are many more examples of people like Laura and Martin who offer an invaluable service within their local communities, supporting some the most capable but also most vulnerable people by adapting to their needs.

Some of whom also offer voluntary support we are aware of and often many more that we are not, like that local person we know who pops in to check on their neighbours, offers to pick up extra groceries from the store or simply knocking to know how a neighbour is doing.

As the CME project progresses we hope to work with many more local people making a real difference in their communities.

One2One Companionship

Anne Shaw has always wanted to work in a position that allowed her to support older people providing them a listening ear and living shared experiences. She was looking for work that fitted with her own health conditions and was receiving support from Miriam Ansell, one of our information, advice and guidance (IAG) advisers.

With the support of Community Catalysts and the community micro-enterprise project in Central Bedfordshire, Anne has been able to set up One2One Companionship which supports local people in Biggleswade and surrounding areas.

Where did it all start?

It all started with going back to further my knowledge and skills. I enrolled to do my Maths, English and IT course as a way of personal development and during the course we had Miriam Ansell speak to us about career options amongst which the Community Micro-Enterprise project was mentioned as a way of working on a self-employed basis locally and supporting people in creative ways.

Following this I was put in contact with the local Community Catalyst, who helped me explore the ideas of setting up my own small local business working through the processes and understanding the local needs.

Through the project I was able to connect with local adult social care teams, council staff, village agent and other people running similar services through local networking events and signing up for the local enterprise directory. 

Anne Shaw, One2One Companionship

What motivated you to set up?

Having grown up in a supported housing scheme where my mum was the site manager, I spent a lot of time around older people who all treated me like family so instead of 4 grandparents I had 48 and I remember well sitting and listening to their stories and learning new skills.

Over the more recent years, I have noticed people in my community becoming increasingly isolated and often with a lack of ability to go out in the community either due to ill health, being disconnected due to change in society or just a lack of family being local and much more. Furthermore, volunteering as a home visitor for a local charity and something I still do alongside my business gave me a real insight to working with people often in need of companionship and support. This combination of personal experience and a real local need led me to set up One 2 One companionship as a means to support people in ways that enabled them to live a good life away from feeling isolated.

Anne Shaw, One2One Companionship

Do you know someone who could do the same?

The micro-enterprise project has provided an alternative option for people I am working with to explore when looking at employment that best suits their strengths particularly those needing more flexible job roles. Just like Anne, we have been able to signpost a number of people to the project who have then had the opportunity to explore a variety of community micro-enterprise ideas with a number of them going on to set up their own support service locally.

Miriam Ansell, IAG adviser, Central Bedfordshire Council

One2One Companionship is just one of a range of community micro-enterprises being set up and supported locally in Central Bedfordshire by community catalysts. These enterprises are set up by people who have a passion for supporting other people, it could be done on a voluntary or paid basis and could be people with previous care experiences or just have a good idea that could enable people live a good life.


Setting up my own enterprise means I have control over how my support is offered.

I’m a people person, someone who loves to talk and learn about others and probably the reason why I was successful working in sales/promotions as a trade manager in the IT industry for 15 years. Moving home and having children meant I was looking for a job role that could fit around my family life so I started my first business as a childminder to support other families and spend more time with my own.

I have always had an entrepreneurial drive to work for myself and as my children got older and went to school, I was now looking to do something based in the community that enabled me to help adults in my local area. I knew people were becoming increasingly isolated and that some services didn’t always have the capacity to be flexible to meet all the diverse needs. At this stage I approached a careers advisor in Biggleswade, and found out about Community Catalysts. I met with the local Community Catalyst coordinator for Central Bedfordshire, and they explained how they could support me.  After a few more meetings and before I knew it, I had my own business (Together) working closely with adults to gain control and live independently at home and in their communities.

Working with Community Catalysts meant I was able to understand more about the gaps within the provision of local support, and connect with local social care workers, which helped me shape my services around people’s needs. This quickly led to my first customer enquiry and I met the family alongside a social worker and a plan was put in place for me to support them.

Running and developing my own enterprise means I can have control over how I offer my support services. I can build up relationships with individuals and their families and give them the much-needed time they wouldn’t usually get with a big care agency. I can take on different roles such as helping around the home, organising appointments, being a listening ear, bridging the gap between the customer and healthcare professionals and supporting people to cope with their long-term conditions. All with the aim of helping them live well at home. My philosophy is to empower and enable people, that ‘together we can’ achieve a fulfilling life within our community.

Kelly Slater, owner of Together

Kelly is quite simply " a star ".  I have been closely working with Kelly while she supports a gentleman who has an Acquired Brain Injury and mild physical impairment. Kelly supports this gentleman for 5 days per week offering him support within his own home with activities of daily living, cognitive rehabilitation and has also helped him to access his local community again while his wife has continued to work to support the family. Kelly also provides support to the whole family and goes way over and above what she is actually being paid to do. Kelly always has a smile when she turns up to support my client no matter how difficult the day may present as she remains positive and finds a way to try to resolve the problems and support all concerned.  

Kelly is a very caring and passionate lady who clearly cares about those she supports.

Lynne Chastney, Social Worker

My favourite part of running my own business is how extremely rewarding it is. I’ve always enjoyed helping people and I feel privileged to be accepted into my customers’ homes. I think people underestimate what that must feel like to have to acknowledge you need help and allow someone into your home. I get strength from what my customers go through as they inspire me. Because I can develop a positive relationship with my customers, I am able to connect with their wider support network and support them better.

Kelly Slater, owner of Together

Kelly is the support worker for my client who has an acquired brain injury. In the 6 months that Kelly has been supporting my client, she has been instrumental in helping them and their family to address a number of financial, emotional and practical issues that have resulted from the injury. She is empathetic and non-judgmental, capable and pro-active, she sets high standards and has a strong work ethic.

Liz Findlay, Community Brain Injury Adviser: Headway, Bedford

Community Catalysts have been key in helping me understanding the world of adult social care, polices, regulations, insurance and are an invaluable source of advice and support when needed. When you are doing something on your own, just talking to someone else with the knowledge they have and the shared vision of what you are looking to achieve goes a long way to making it easier.

Kelly Slater, owner of Together

To learn more about how Together might be able to support you, email Kelly:


One of the people we have worked with locally in Central Bedfordshire is Bridget Nkiru Abraham, who having worked in care related roles as a qualified nurse supporting adults, children and people with varying disabilities for over 30 years, decided to set up her own local enterprise, NKAY Care.

What was your motivation?

I set up NKAY Care to provide real meaningful care and support to people in my community. Through my experiences I have witnessed first-hand how important it is to support people in their own homes and communities and I wanted my enterprise to provide that continuous flexible support, such as personal care, companionship, supporting family carers, helping around the home and more.

Bridget Nkiru Abraham (NKAY Care)

How has going self-employed changed your role as a carer?

From a task point of view not much has changed, but I can now spend more time with the people I support which helps improve their physical and emotional health. Working for myself means my clients and their families benefit from a consistent personalised approach and I am able to be a key point of contact for them and other professionals involved with their care which is vital to delivering better support and reassurance.

Bridget Nkiru Abraham (NKAY Care)

Has it been challenging going self-employed?

Being self-employed has its challenges like everything else, but it has given me an opportunity to do things my way and to support people with more flexibility and responsiveness. It has helped me build stronger connections within my community and working for myself has allowed me to spend real time with people so they can remain as independent as possible and live thriving lives. For me it has been personally very rewarding to work in this way.

Bridget Nkiru Abraham (NKAY Care)

Community micro-enterprises run by local people like Bridget continue to play a key role in our communities, making a big difference to people’s lives and by forming a valuable portion of our key workers.

Bridget has been helping us care for dad over the last few months. She has proven to be very reliable and has helped us a great deal.

She has been a godsent through these difficult times and has never let us down. We cannot praise her enough and would highly recommend her to anyone

Client’s family feedback of NKAY Care (Gamlingay)

For more information about NKAY Care, call 07375 536363 or email