New Event Champions Better Mental Health for Entrepreneurs

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Local business support organisation PNE Enterprise hosted its first Get Growing Your Network event for aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups in Tyne and Wear. The event put mental health awareness centre stage, with guest speaker Andy Walton, a trained mental health nurse and creator of illustrative self-help guide SWIRL, sharing tips on how entrepreneurs can look after their wellbeing whilst running a business.

The evening was held at the recently opened ‘creative container community’ By The River Brew Co., on Gateshead quayside.

Andy, who received business support from PNE Enterprise himself, shared the story of publishing SWIRL and provided advice on techniques to those starting or running a business can use to overcome mental health challenges. The talk was followed by casual networking, with entrepreneurs encouraged to ‘Grow their Network’ to fill gaps in their business knowledge, as well as gather support from fellow entrepreneurs.

SWIRL, is a stylised booklet, designed by award winning creatives and providing straightforward self-help advice. The publication of SWIRL was supported by PNE Enterprise, who provided business guidance as well as a grant towards production costs. The project has achieved recognition across the UK, being featured in the Guardian and an event planned at Tate Modern, London.

Lee Longstaff, PNE Enterprise Project Manager, discussed his vision for the event, commenting, “Many of the entrepreneurs we support at PNE Enterprise share that running their own business often feels isolating. This event addressed the problem by creating a supportive community. Andy’s professional yet straightforward well-being advice he gave on ‘overcoming overthinking’ is something everybody can benefit from. His entrepreneurial journey is one which young entrepreneurs at the early stages of their business can look to for inspiration.”

During his talk, Andy discussed the importance of finding balance, “For many reasons entrepreneurship can compromise mental health. It is often hard to create boundaries between work life and personal life, but it is crucial for sustained and genuine success. It is about finding a way to manage well-being whilst still achieving your ambitions.”

Attendees represented a wide range of businesses, including Dave Hall from Manhua Cha, a comic superhero themed bubble tea business, Isabella West from Hirestreet, an online outfit rental company, and 18-year-old Gateshead College student, Jack Holmes from Spinning Superiority, a pop-up vintage record store. Many of the attendees have received business support, advice and access to funding from PNE Enterprise.

The entrepreneurs were joined by more experienced business professionals offering advice on particular topics and aiding attendees to overcome hurdles in growing their business.

Emily Wade, Event Organiser commented, “Entrepreneurs often feel that starting a business is about doing everything themselves, when in fact there is a large network of like-minded entrepreneurs in the North East region, many of whom face the same struggles. Events like Get Growing Your Network are important, not only as an opportunity to switch off, connect and gain support from like-minded business peers, but also to get advice or find solutions to business hurdles in a relaxed setting.”

The next Get Growing Your Networking event will take place in the New Year. If you would like any further information, get in touch with lee. longstaff@pne.org or 0191 691 0274.