Kettering woman with learning disability appeals for help to support business she set up herself

Dawn Bell

Dawn Bell

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A woman with a learning disability is looking for help so she can continue the business she set up to help others with disabilities.

Dawn Bell, 30, set up a consultancy business to help improve disabled people’s services and lives.

Dawn is appealing for help

Dawn is appealing for help

Because of her disability, she needs one-to-one support to work and has had help from Northamptonshire Community Housing Network (NCHN), based in Wellingborough, with an Access to Work grant from the Government.

She had this grant, which pays for practical support for people with a disability, health or mental health condition to help them start working, stay in work, move into self-employment or start a business, for a year but it ended last month.

She hoped to re-apply for it but is unable to as she is still on Employment Support Allowance (ESA), which is an out-of-work benefit.

Dawn could be on this benefit and earn a small amount of money under special rules for permitted work.

She was only doing six to 10 hours per week, but managed to get some work, started getting a small income and will have made a very small profit in her first full year.

Marion from NCHN, which has been helping Dawn, said: “Dawn has been sharing her life and business story and has been inspiring many other disabled and non-disabled people to think about creating their own job by starting a business.

“But without support to do her work and run her business, Dawn will have to stop.

“This is a real shame as having her own business has brought on her confidence and skills in leaps and bounds.

“And she is just starting to build up momentum and hopefully get more work.

“Dawn was told she can no longer get Access to Work help because she was only allowed to get this award for 52 weeks while on ESA.

“But the strange thing is she now has to not get an Access to Work grant for the next year but she can re-apply again in another year’s time.

“This is all well and good, but without the funds to pay for support, Dawn’s business will not survive past the next few weeks.”

Dawn, who has shared her self-employment story with more than 40 people with disabilities, said: “I got my first pay cheque and had a cup of tea to celebrate.

“I filled in my first tax return with the help of my supporters, that was the worst bit.

“It has been a very exciting year and I want to do more.”

Dawn has contacted her MP Philip Hollobone for help and he has written to the Minister for Disabilities.

Dawn said: “There is lots more for me to do in my business, but I can’t get Access to Work help any more so I need help to pay for my support.

“Do you know anyone who could help?

“It would mean a lot to me, I have worked so hard to get this far.”

Dawn’s work includes offering training for businesses to provide better support for staff with disabilities.

Marion, who said she was very proud of what Dawn has achieved, said Dawn needs about £5,000 to support her and her business through the next 12 months.

She added: “If there’s anyone or any businesses that are impressed by what Dawn is doing and wants to support her, they can make a donation.”

Anyone who wants to help Dawn can send an email to or call 01933 381467.