Patricija became unemployed in March this year after losing her job due to the coronavirus and has now set up her own business ‘Joyful Genius’ which provides Learning and Mindfulness Coaching for children and adults and was inspired by the GRoW Your Own Business Programme.
Patricija said “I was working in a school in Swiss Cottage for children with additional needs but during the first lockdown period the school was closed. Because I was employed by a recruitment agency rather than the school itself it was not possible for me to be furloughed and so overnight I lost my job and my source of income; it was a very worrying time.
I applied for Universal Credit and set my attention to home schooling my young daughter. It was such a precious moment for me to see how brilliant she is and to understand how she learned. When we came to England from Slovenia in November 2019 she did not know how to write and during lockdown she was able to work with me while I was home schooling, expanding her knowledge and developing her knowledge and skills. I saw my daughter really flourish during this time and as I am a qualified teacher I was able to encourage her by using my own techniques, it made our learning fun rather than serious and demanding learning.
The home schooling experience made me rethink everything and I was looking for an opportunity to move forward. It gave me an idea for a new business venture so when I saw an advertisement in the Islington Council newsletter about the GRoW Your Own Business Programme I thought this would be a great learning curve for me.
I signed up to the Programme and when Mercedes from GRoW telephoned me she was so enthusiastic and inspiring. I began the GYOB Programme in June and Mercedes was a real role model, explaining her own experience as a single parent who set up her own business and followed her passion. I felt as though she was opening my mind to new opportunities and a better way of life for my family and it really made me think seriously about being self-employed. When I was working in schools I worked all day from 8.00am to 5.00pm and picked my daughter up at 5.30 every day. We were missing quality time together and it was quite a lightbulb moment for me to realise I had a choice.
The information I was given from GYOB was fantastic, I discovered that I could still get financial support whilst setting up my own business and it really put my mind at rest. Mercedes encouraged me to give it a go and supported me all the way and I realised I had nothing to lose in trying.
I have always been so passionate about helping children. As well as being a trained teacher I have a PHD in philosophy and sociology and I have a special interest in mindfulness. I believe that it is so important for children to learn how to connect with nature and so I thought this is what I need to do – I need to define my own programmes for children to teach them in a different way. Mercedes gave me so much support and my work coach at Universal Credit was also very supportive when he understood my business plan. He explained about grants that are available and with a lot of patience and guts I set about making it my mission. Mercedes called me regularly even after the GYOB programme finished and so I never felt alone. Sometimes I felt I was a little bit crazy trying to start up a business during a global pandemic but because I had the support of someone who really seemed to care it just kept me on track to succeed.
I feel this was the special ingredient of the GYOB Programme – the fact that someone could really give their business ideas a chance to succeed and that there was the support available to make sure I had really thought everything through thoroughly so other people would take me seriously. I applied for a start up loan, prepared my business plan and cashflow and kept pushing forward even when I thought it would never happen. I applied for the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) which provides practical and financial support to people who want to start their own businesses. It consists of a combination of business mentoring, a weekly allowance, and a business loan and I was so delighted to find out just last week that I have now been approved for this!
While I was working on my business plan I also had a book that I wrote and had published in Slovenia translated into English as I feel it will really help to promote Joyful Genius. The book is called The Simple Truth About Children and it explains who I am and what my thought process is with regards to my teaching approach.
I am honing and perfecting my programme at the moment so that I can advertise it to Headteachers and SENCOs in my local area. The idea behind my programme is to empower children through mindfulness and visualisations and with the message that everyone has the ability to overcome their issues if we create the right environment for children to really express themselves and to be self-aware, authentic and to celebrate their individuality. I believe everyone has a purpose and this is why I published my book which is full of inspirational and insightful quotes for adults, parents and educators to transmit to children and for the children to reflect on what their purpose is. At this unprecedented and challenging time of covid-19 we do not want to transmit our fears, doubts and insecurity on to children, we want to transmit love, mindfulness and bravery, to show them that despite all the challenges we face right now, we can still operate on a higher level and give them what they need to be our leaders of the future.
The programme includes lots of visualisation through stories giving me the opportunity to encourage children to be positive thinkers, increasing their self awareness, self exteem and self confidence. I also have learning support programmes for children with learning issues which can be delivered in their own homes. All of these programmes can be done through Zoom as well as face to face. I am also looking at introducing some sessions for teenagers about feelings and emotions, I have done work in this area in Slovenia and it was really successful and so I would love to be able to deliver a similar programme here in England.
I am so very passionate about this and I see it more as a life long adventure for me. I know now that the system is actually in favour of those who dare and my UC work coach is also very supportive of my plans. I have Mercedes and GYOB to thank for putting me on this mission as if she had not been there to awaken my passion in the way that she did then I may not have pursued it – I felt that she dared me to do it and I could not resist. During these challenging times I feel it gives our society some kind of light and I am so grateful to the GRoW team for enriching my life.”
What’s more, being able to put my teaching techniques into practice with my own daughter during lockdown has helped her so much that she has been moved up one year group. She had been placed in Year 2 last year because the school felt she would not manage the goals of Year 3 and she has now improved so much that she has been moved up to Year 4, completely skipping Year 3. She has also had her first piece of writing published in the School’s Newsletter. I am so proud of her achievements.