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Empowering Business and Wellbeing
A Journey from Childcare to Charitable Impact
An Interview with Rachel Jones

Hannah Danson of Your Partnerships interviewed Rachel Jones, Business Development Manager at Clear, and founder and former owner of Fit ‘N’ Fun Kids, for the Women in Business feature of the Your Partnerships magazine.

Hannah Danson: Let’s start at the beginning, Rachel – why did you set up Fit ‘N’ Fun Kids in the first place? Why childcare?

Rachel Jones: I trained as a competitive gymnast from the age of 6, until an injury at 18 ended my career. I competed at a national level, then ended up having to rethink what I wanted to do next. It was a few years after that, once I was married and with two small children, that I was able to do what I’d dreamed of.

I knew fitness, and children, but what began as an under-5s activity session, with parents, evolved into childcare. We sold the family home in 2000, and lived with my mother for three years, while investing everything into the business. Our youngest child had just started school, and I had lost my father to cancer that year, which pushed me. It was the right time.

HD: That sounds like hard work!

RJ: It was, but the gymnastics taught me how to press on through challenges, and push myself to achieve. There was, and still is, a need for more childcare. My ethos always was to provide  a high-quality provision for children, so that the parents were supported to return to work knowing their child was getting the best possible start in life!

HD: So, you ran Fit ‘N’ Fun Kids from 2000 until you sold it in January 2023, but while you were there, you also started a series of other initiatives. Can you tell me about them? Where did they come from?

RJ: Providing a high-quality service meant that we diversified to offer support to others and in particular vulnerable groups. To do so, it was vital that my team were well and supported, so they were able to deliver the award-winning service required. Wellbeing strategies I put in place ensured that we recruited and retained a strong workforce. Helping, and giving back, has always been important to me, and I collaborated with initiatives such as NHS family support initiatives, Active Plus Who Dares Works, Young Mums Will Achieve, and Sure Start. I founded the Enterprise Foundation, raising aspiration of young people in Cornwall, and having attended Downing Street with Lord Young and others with a similar passion, was asked to lead one of seven pilots of the Enterprise Advisors Network, linking local businesses with schools and colleges, to help inspire young people to successful careers and/or to become future entrepreneurs. I also founded Leading Women UK, a not-for-profit organisation providing a network and support for all women, focusing on inspiring young women, leading women to a greater future, supporting women back to work, and supporting women later in life across Cornwall and Devon. I handed over both organisations after several years, due to other commitments. However the pilot of the Enterprise Advisor Network has rolled out properly, and is operational in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. And Your Partnerships carries the flag for women’s networking, as does Alexis Bowater, who runs the annual Westcountry Women Awards.

Rachel outside Number 10 Downing Street


HD: That’s all amazing, Rachel - how did you even find the time?

RJ: [laughs] I like to keep busy and there is something to be said about giving back!

HD: I can tell!  So, you sold the business at the end of the pandemic…

RJ: Well, yes… it was all but sold as the pandemic hit, but that wasn’t the right time. I felt the organisation required strong leadership at that time, and we also made the decision to remain open to support children of keyworkers and those more vulnerable. I felt it was important to maintain continuity during those difficult times. But yes, we were bought out earlier this year.

HD: When I first heard that you’d been the owner of a childcare company then moved to become Business Development Manager at CLEAR, it didn’t really make sense, but I can definitely see it now. Can you tell us more about that?

RJ: I’d previously collaborated on initiatives with Carolyn [Webster, the CEO], and when I heard about the role, I could really see how I could use my experience to add value to the charity. I could see immense potential within the charity to make a difference to businesses, from a staff wellbeing perspective. Taking my previous experience in business and with the immense skill and expertise offered through CLEAR, we have created a valuable business offer. Our CLEAR for Business offer supports organisations to develop and implement a workforce wellbeing strategy. The offer includes a range of training, policy development and practical support to ensure that businesses recruit and retain their most valuable assets, their people. And that’s not all. CLEAR for Business is a workforce offer with an important difference. By investing in your workforce through CLEAR, you are helping many people in the county that we are proud to call home. Every penny of surplus is reinvested into our core charitable work, helping children, young people and adults to recover from the harm caused by sexual and relational abuse, violent crime and other traumatic experiences. CLEAR supports over 800 people in Cornwall each year through 1-2-1 therapy and counselling. Demand always outstrips the funds available, so CLEAR for Business is a win-win for your business, your people and for Cornwall.


Rachel with Carolyn Webster, CEO of CLEAR
LINKS
Enterprise Advisors Network: https://www.careershubcios.co.uk/employers-volunteers/enterprise-advisers

South West Women in Business –Westcountry Women Awards:  https://westcountrywomenawards.co.uk

Clear: (CLEAR for Business) Emotional Trauma and Therapy Specialists https://clearsupport.net
Email: rachel.jones@clearsupport.net

Hannah Danson of Your Magazine interviewed Rachel Jones, Business Development Manager at Clear, and founder and former owner of Fit ‘N’ Fun Kids.

FACTS
  • Up to £56bn/year is the current cost of mental health to the UK employer!
    [Deloitte]
  • The average loss of earnings per female victim of abuse is £5,800 per year.
  • Men in the UK are 3 times are more likely to die by suicide than women, and in the construction industry, three times more likely than the average man.