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Dorset charity awarded over £320,000 to help disabled entrepreneurs start their own businesses

A charity in Dorset has received more than £320,000 of National Lottery funding to continue improving the lives of people with disabilities across the county.

Based in Bournemouth, The Support and Mentoring Enabling Entrepreneurship Charity (SAMEE) is committed to narrowing the disability employment gap by empowering disabled adults in Dorset to start sustainable self-employment ventures.

The grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, will support the expansion of the charity’s Disabled Entrepreneurs Business Start-up Service (DEBSS), meaning more than 350 disabled adults across Dorset will have access to this life-enhancing opportunity. 

The DEBSS project aims to drastically improve people’s career and life chances, from benefit dependency to greater independence, financial resilience and boosted confidence.

In response to the pressures of the rising cost-of-living and the challenging impact of the pandemic, the charity is witnessing a dramatic increase in demand for its services. In the face of these challenges, large numbers of jobseekers with disabilities in Dorset are now considering the option of starting their own business.

Using its newly-awarded National Lottery grant, The SAMEE Charity will support disabled entrepreneurs from the very formation of their business, providing practical guidance and advice to help produce sustainable self-employed ventures that are compatible with their health challenges.

When Clair Lawrence, aged 46 from Poole, first joined the project in September 2021, her multiple health challenges prevented her from working in traditional employment environments. Clair came to the first meeting with her project advisor with a very clear idea about wanting to start an aromatherapy business, but felt overwhelmed about the steps to take to become self-employed.

Clair was then guided to create a robust business plan, which supported her to gain a thorough understanding of her goals, as well as a great deal of confidence in her abilities. 

The charity has no limits to time when supporting disabled people with their goals. With the project’s support, guidance and belief in her vision, Clair successfully launched her own aromatherapy business, Lavish4Me, within two years, and very quickly achieved her first sale. 

Clair is determined to run a sustainable business and aims to be free from welfare dependency within two years. Thanks to her involvement with the charity, not only has Clair developed strong self-employment skills and knowledge, but newfound confidence, self-belief and resilience.

Clair says: “Building a business from scratch by yourself can be daunting and lonely, but having The SAMEE charity by my side from start to finish has been crucial in the success of launching my business.

“My experienced business mentor has helped guide me along the way with enthusiasm, and his belief in me and my business idea gave me encouragement and accountability. He helped put a structure to my ideas with an easy to complete business plan and step-by-step guide on how to launch my business.

“During the project I honestly have had up and down moments, but my mentor kept me feeling positive and sparked me to move forward when I was having challenging days of pain.

“Each step I took, some quick, some slow, has got me where I am today – a single mother with Trigeminal neuralgia and Fibromyalgia and still a successful business owner!”

The charity will continue to guide and support Clair and other past participants through free access to volunteer-led and peer-to-peer mentoring support whenever they need it.

Samantha Everard, Chief Executive of The SAMEE Charity, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we can now help change the lives of even more unemployed, disabled adults in Dorset by giving them the chance to learn valuable self-employment skills and escape living in poverty.”

Rowan Miller, Head of Funding for the South West at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, this funding will make a big difference to people’s lives across the South West. Our funding plays a vital role in helping communities to unleash their potential and it is great to see groups like The SAMEE Charity making a positive difference and continuing to support their communities to prosper and thrive.” 

Over 250 charities and community groups across the South Westhave been awarded more than £10 million of National Lottery funding over the last three months*. 

The South West isn’t alone in benefiting from National Lottery funding. Yesterday it was announced that almost £135 million has been distributed to over 2,400 community organisations across England in the past three months*. 

Thanks to National Lottery players, this will fund things that matter to communities, such as supporting with cost-of-living concerns, employment, young people, health and wellbeing, and climate action.

National Lottery players raise over £30 million each week for good causes across the UK. In the last 12 months we have given out nearly £600 million to 12,500 organisations reaching every local authority and constituency in the UK.  

To find out more visit

Notes to Editors

* These figures are for funding awarded from 26th November 2022 – 24th February 2023.

About The National Lottery Community Fund

We are the largest funder of community activity in the UK – we support people and communities to prosper and thrive. 

We’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to work closely with Government to distribute vital grants and funding from key Government programmes and initiatives. 

Our funding has a positive impact and makes a difference to people’s lives. We support projects focussed on things that matter, including economic prosperity, employment, young people, mental health, loneliness and helping the UK reach net zero by 2050. 

Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life. 

National Lottery players raise over £30 million each week for good causes throughout the UK. Since The National Lottery began in 1994, £43 billion has been raised for good causes. National Lottery funding has been used to support over 635,000 projects - 255 projects per postcode area.

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