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Prince’s Trust and NatWest: support for young entrepreneurs

Funding worth £5m has been made available to struggling young entrepreneurs via the Enterprise Relief Fund, a joint initiative from The Prince’s Trust and NatWest, with applications being accepted until 31 July.

In April, the Prince’s Trust and NatWest announced that they were providing much-needed support to young entrepreneurs by giving them access to cash grants and one-to-one guidance via the Enterprise Relief Fund.

The closing date for applications is 31 July. To be eligible for the scheme, you must be:

  • a business that was started in the last four years and is run by someone aged 18 to 30 


  • a young person aged 18 to 30 in the process of starting a business who has no other source of income during the crisis

You can apply by visiting The Prince’s Trust website . Even if you are not eligible, every young person who gets in touch will be offered personalised one-to-one support from The Prince’s Trust to connect with mentors or build their skills.

To date, more than 420 businesses have been approved for support. We spoke to three young entrepreneurs about how the coronavirus crisis has affected them and how the Relief Fund helped them keep their businesses going.

Shannon Hawkins, 25, is a bespoke tailor based in Bristol

Hawkins started her shirtmaking and tailoring business, Shannon Hawkins Bespoke, in January 2019.

“When I became self-employed, I didn’t know anything about business. Someone I knew told me about The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme and I ended up signing up for the four-day Explore Enterprise course. It was so helpful as it taught me about the financial side of the business. It’s all very well having an idea, but if you’re not savvy with money or don’t know how to do your accounts, the business won’t work. Things can go very wrong if you don’t keep on top of your books.”

Hawkins takes autoimmune suppressants to treat Crohn’s disease, and has had to shield for some time during the crisis. But as demand for PPE rose, she was determined to help frontline workers, launching a crowdfunding campaign to buy materials that enabled her to make nearly 2,000 scrubs bags for local NHS workers. 

“It was amazing to be able to do this, but on the business side, things were very quiet,” says Hawkins. “I wasn’t able to qualify for the self-employment support as I hadn’t been full-time self-employed for long enough. I’d applied for Universal Credit but was only getting £89 a month, which wasn’t enough to pay for many of my business costs.”

Hawkins had been using a 60-year-old overlocker sewing machine inherited from her grandmother to work – but during lockdown it had broken beyond repair, and she was forced to turn business away. “At that time, I received an email that said I might qualify for funding from The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund. I was so pleased to find out that I was eligible and able to get a £760 grant.

“I was really, really happy as it meant I could buy a new overlocker, which is absolutely crucial to my work. I’ve already had a few orders for shirts that I can make a start on. 

“It’s a really nice feeling to know that you’ve got support through all of this. Particularly as I’ve been poorly with Crohn’s but I still want to work.”

Paige Hickman, 23, owns Eden Beauty Rooms in Sedgley, West Midlands

Hickman set up her beauty therapy business with help from The Prince’s Trust’s Enterprise programme, receiving an initial loan and a business mentor to help her take the next steps after qualifying as a beauty therapist and make-up artist.

For the past five years Hickman has been working as a sole trader, but in February 2020, just before the coronavirus crisis hit, she set up as a limited company, Eden Beauty Rooms, and bought premises to operate from.

“Just before lockdown, I was refurbishing the shop and transferring my clients over to my new business. It was a really exciting next step to have a shop, but everything came to a halt while we weren’t allowed to meet with clients.

I received a grant of £1,300, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it was a massive relief – especially when you have no money coming in

Paige Hickman
Owner of Eden Beauty Rooms

“As I had no income coming in, I applied for Universal Credit, but as I’m living with my parents, I was only eligible for a very small amount each month – which is why I came back to The Prince’s Trust for support.”

Hickman applied to The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund for a grant to support her with business costs while she is unable to trade. 

“I received a grant of £1,300, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it was a massive relief – especially when you have no money coming in. I was so happy the money was available as I’ve been able to use it to cover some business costs and restocking kit ahead of opening the new shop. I can’t wait to get back to business and start seeing clients again.” 

Eden Beauty Rooms has been able to continue its refurbishment during lockdown and will be ready to open in August, offering make-up services and other beauty treatments.

Robert Senior, 26, owns RSRobStar Videography in Stafford

Senior started his business after getting positive feedback for free film projects he undertook for local businesses.

“I’m very much a creative,” he says. “I didn’t know any of the business side of things with money, plans and figures. 

“When I did The Prince’s Trust Enterprise course, it was really helpful in developing a business plan, planning for what I would need to keep accurate accounts and how to present myself to new clients.”

When the coronavirus crisis hit, and as he became less able to work full-time, it was important to Senior that he was able to support himself financially. 

“I had been looking at different options for grants when I heard about The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Fund. I found out I was eligible, and it was so helpful – as part of applying to the fund they also helped me to look to the future and how I might improve or adapt my services.”

Senior received a grant of £1,000, which enabled him to invest in new equipment.

“I’ve been able to buy new equipment and use this time to practice with it, so when I can start shooting on location again, I will feel comfortable using it.

“I was relieved that I received the grant. I’d applied for some other funding, which hadn’t gone through, so it was a pleasant surprise,”

Through RSRobStar Videography, Rob creates short films to help promote local businesses, charities and community projects. As he’s able to go back to work, Senior plans to create short films for businesses to show how they have adapted to the changes brought about by the pandemic and how they are ensuring they’re safe to trade.

“Right now, I’m just looking forward to being able to film on location again.”

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