“I thought being made redundant was the worst time of my life, but it was actually the start I needed to pursue my dream.”

A florist from Llanelli who was unexpectedly made redundant has turned adversity into success after pursuing her dream of launching her own business thanks to Welsh Government support and funding.

Eiry, 48, has credited the ReAct+ programme and Working Wales for giving her the confidence, skills, and support to kickstart her own floristry business after more than two decades in the industry.

The ReAct+ programme offers those who are out of work or under formal notice of redundancy personalised support tailored to their individual needs.

The help could not have come at a better time for Eiry, who had struggled with her mental and physical health after being unexpectedly made redundant.

She said: “The support from ReAct+ and Working Wales turned my life around, they helped me get through one of the darkest times of my life and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I had been made redundant, just recovered from glandular fever, and felt completely lost. I knew that I didn’t want to give up my passion for floristry, but as my confidence had been knocked, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to start my own business.

“I first gathered the courage to set foot in my local Careers Wales Centre, and the first thing my adviser said to me was ‘if you can open that door, you can open any door’ and that really stuck with me. I knew that it was the first step to getting me back on track.”

Eiry added: “In my first appointment I completely broke down as I didn’t know which way to go. Sian helped talk me through my many different options, including looking for another job, starting my own business, or retraining in a new industry.

“Once I decided that I wanted to launch my own company, Sian supported me to apply to the ReAct+ programme which helped fund training courses that allowed me to learn new skills at one of the most prestigious floristry schools in the UK, the Covent Garden Academy.”

Through the ReAct+ programme, Eiry secured funding to take part in four training courses at the Covent Garden Academy including a four-day intensive course.

“Not only did ReAct+ funding help with training it also contributed to my accommodation costs while I was staying in the Cotswolds for the training. Sian also offered advice on how to write my CV and covering letter to help me find a part-time job that would support me while I started my business, and provided continued emotional support throughout which was invaluable.”

Having originally trained to be a florist 20 years prior to being made redundant, Eiry found the training courses expanded her skillset, enabling her to fulfil her dream of starting her own business.

“While on the course I met a group of other supportive people within my industry who gave me advice and guidance, and this really helped build my confidence to go on and set up my own business. It was a different world to the one I had been used to over the last decade.

Since setting up her business, Lilibet Florist, Eiry has a new-found love for her industry. She continued: “It has been the perfect time to launch my own business after 20 years in the industry, and the courses have helped my floristry skills improve massively.

“Being able to visit people in their houses, especially those of bereaved families, has also made such a difference to how I see my job. I feel like I can really help make a difference.”

Eiry is now keen to encourage people to explore the support available in Wales through the ReAct+ programme if they have been recently made unemployed or are under a formal notice of redundancy.

She added: “I feel there is a common misconception that support like this is only available for school leavers and not for people my age, but they couldn’t be more wrong.

“I would encourage anyone who has been made unemployed recently or is under a formal notice of redundancy to reach out to Working Wales and use the flexible ReAct+ support on offer.

“I would have never had the confidence to start my own business without the support, as I was in a bad place after being made redundant and couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I thought it was one of the worst things that could’ve have happened to me, but instead it was the start I needed to pursue my dream. I can’t thank Working Wales enough for their support in changing my life around for the better.”

ReAct+ supports those who are out of work or under a formal notice of redundancy by providing them with a free personalised package of employment support that includes advice and guidance, or funding for training. For employment support as unique as you, visit workingwales.gov.wales/react-plus or call 0800 028 4844.