St Ann’s resident, Tony Wilson, was “in a bad place” when he first came to Nottingham City Homes’ Tenant Academy, looking for help to further himself and realise his business potential.
Suffering with depression and out of work, the fifty-year-old was struggling - but he had a dream: “I was really in a bad place at that time, I had depression and no real direction - but I had an idea.
“I loved to make Caribbean food and had a vision for my own business. I wanted to get myself somewhere to sell these and see how it went. So I approached the Council to see if they could find a place in a market for me, but there was nothing for me at that point. I wasn’t sure what to do and needed a way out of my situation.”
As a Nottingham City Homes tenant, Tony was eligible to take part in the courses run by its Tenants Academy, and the ‘How to start a market stall’ training presented Tony with a fantastic opportunity.
He added: “The course was really helpful, it was just over a few weeks, but it gave me the confidence and knowledge to get started. Although I couldn’t find anything locally, someone told me about the opportunities at Mansfield Market, in particular their Incubation scheme, which encourages new market traders to the town. This has meant I’ve been able to trade two days a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and it’s going really well.”
Now making a living out of The Dumplin' Shack, Tony’s confidence is building and his dumplings are becoming a popular fixture in the market: “I try to make it a bit of a show, so there’s something going on that’s interesting and people can come along and have a try of my food. At first people were just interested in seeing what was going on, but now I’m selling well and they seem to be really enjoying my food.”
Tony is now pursuing other opportunities, such as the wider food festivals, and he even has his son working with him to help drive the business forward together as a family.
The father-son team will be setting up a pop-up Caribbean restaurant for one day on Saturday 6th May in one of the empty units at Sneinton Market: “I can’t wait, it’s going to be completely different setting up something like this, but I now feel confident enough to do it, and I’m looking forward to meeting people down there.”
Following the success of this ‘How to start a market stall’ course, Nottingham City Homes will be running it again, starting with a full day’s masterclass at Bestwood Housing Office on Monday 8th May. There are still currently places available and NCH residents are being encouraged to come along and take part.
The course formed part of NCH’s employability programme, which is linked to the Tenants Academy.
Kathy Sheldon, Assistant Director for Tenancy and Estate Services at NCH, said: “We’re so pleased to hear of the success Tony has achieved already, after working with our Tenants Academy.
“This is exactly why we set up the Academy. We’re committed to supporting our tenants into employment, or as in Tony’s case, self employment. Everyone has different ambitions, and with the help of the Tenant Academy and our Employability Manager, we do everything we can to help our tenants to achieve their goals. All the courses are designed to raise a participant’s confidence in their own abilities, empowering and inspiring them to realise their potential”.
Anyone interested in booking onto the course can contact Joanne Miller at NCH on 0115 74 69448 or email: joanne.Miller@nottinghamcityhomes.org.uk . For information on other courses available, please visit the website: http://www.nottinghamcityhomes.org.uk/get-involved/tenant-academy/