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Young, qualified and unemployed

2 October 2018
Kelly Westwood

Young, qualified and unemployed

Kelly Westwood aged 21, from Codsall has always had a passion for working with animals.  Having completed her college qualifications in Animal Care and Canine First Aid. Kelly was eager to start work.  “When I finished college I was unable to find work for two years, I was applying for lots of jobs but not getting anywhere.  Most of the time I just wouldn’t hear back from most people.”

Following years of rejection and looking at a future income based on benefits.  Kelly’s confidence was starting to suffer.  “I didn’t enjoy being unemployed, it can get you down when you’re not working because you’re just not busy enough.  I like to be busy, I like to be working, that’s what makes me happy but for years I just couldn’t get a job.”

The Work Routes Programme

In January 2017 Building Better Opportunities Stafford and South Staffordshire launched.  A programme aimed at people across Stafford and South Staffordshire who are unemployed and need support to break down the barriers that are preventing them moving towards employment.  Kelly said: “I joined the Building Better Opportunities programme to see if I could get support with applying for jobs and getting into work.  Building Better Opportunities helped me to progress onto the Work Routes programme where I’ve had support to start my own business.”

“The Work Routes programme has been good for me as I‘d struggled previously with finding employment, so I thought let’s have a look at self-employment.  My coach David has motivated me to build my website, Facebook page and leaflets for my business.  He’s also supported me with the admin side of running my own business, such as insurances, accounts and taxes to ensure I’m fully prepared and covered.”

Knowing where her passion lay, Kelly was determined to work with animals and put her qualifications in Animal Care to good use. “I started my dog walking and dog washing business around Codsall and have now expanded to the surrounding areas too.  I’ve built it up steadily, raising my reputation and building trusting relationships with customers. “

“My first customer was a friendly Beagle, and I’ve walked all kinds of breeds since then.  In fact, I have a Rottweiler myself, his name is Reggie and he is huge.  Being an animal lover, I’m experienced and confident with dogs of all sizes and breeds.  I offer solo and group walks, home visits and dog washes within a 10 mile radius of Codsall.”

Looking To The Future

“I’m so happy about starting my own business.  If I hadn’t done this I would still be looking for a job and have nothing to do and I want to be doing!  Working definitely gives me a sense of pride.”

“I’m already planning ahead for the future of my business, I would like to offer grooming and obedience training.  I have my Level 3 Dog Grooming qualification already and would love to expand my offer to provide full grooming services.  I’ve also returned to College to complete my Level 1 maths and English which will help me with the administration side of running my own business.  I didn’t like school before, but now I know I need these qualifications to continue to grow my business.”

Talking about the support she’s received, Kelly said: “It’s nice to know that someone believes in me, which can help boost your confidence.  David has definitely helped me to believe in myself.”

To find out more about Kelly’s Dog Walking and Dog Washing and the adventures of her four-legged customers visit her Facebook page or email:


How Can We Help You?

Building Better Opportunities Stafford and South Staffordshire works with residents across Stafford and South Staffordshire who are experiencing multiple barriers to employment.  It’s a bespoke programme, meaning each and every person that joins has an individual action plan that aligns with their personal needs.  The programme is completely free for all participants, meaning you’re able to focus 100% on improving your personal, financial and employability skills.  This programme is jointly funded by the European Social Fund and National Lottery Community Fund.

To find out more about Building Better Opportunities Stafford and South Staffordshire visit call us on 01902 696 228, email or complete the green form at the bottom of the page.