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We’ve been working in the North East for over a decade now and from the very beginning we knew that the time will come to reciprocate back to the community all the goodness we’ve received while living in this incredible region! It’s not just the history and stunning landscapes that define this unique place on the map. It’s the unity, strength and kindness of people living here. The people of North East is what makes this region a truly spectacular place to live.

There are truly inspiring stories behind the faces of people we pass on the streets, all too often completely unnoticed. There’s not enough appreciation nor attention given for this amazing culture of sturdy character, aspiration and hard work, and we’d love to bring this aspect of the community a little closer to you while utilising what we know best. Photography. Stories of incredible people – North East UK




Sarah The Indie Midwife an independent midwife operating in the North East, Teesside & North Yorkshire


1.Can you tell us a bit about your job as an independent midwife? What influenced your decision to choose this career path? (include a few words about your personal as well as business development, please)

I trained at the University of Leeds and at St James’ teaching hospital, I found the experience of being a student in a large tertiary unit really useful but I never felt at home in a hospital environment. Birth is inherently a normal process that can occasionally not go to plan, and I could see the influence of being in a place so unfamiliar to them, the women did not labour in the way we had been taught about.

I got my first job as a midwife on a NHS Homebirth team where I had an opportunity to caseload women and be with them while they had their babies at home. It was so amazing and I knew that I wanted to continue my career caseloading full-time and focusing on being with a woman at her home while she welcomed her baby.

I found that the NHS was not structured to support the women that needed extra support during pregnancy and in the postnatal period and very rarely did women see the same midwife more than once. This meant that they would get conflicting advice and feel really unsure what to do at any point in the journey of welcoming their baby into the world.


I came to independent practice because I wanted to give women this time and couldn’t deny the scientific evidence supporting this type of care, showing a reduction in adverse outcomes for women.

It also is a much more enjoyable way for me to work and to continue to develop my practice.

I moved back up to be closer to family and have been working on building a practice since then, liaising with local birth workers and NHS trusts.

2. What are the benefits of hiring an independent midwife? (what service can be provided and how flexible it is)

Hiring an independent midwife means that you get more time than a 20 minute clinic appointment, usually appointments last for a few hours, so that there is time to go through everything that you might want to talk about surrounding, pregnancy and having your new baby. It also means that I will be there at the birth with you. We will focus on discussing everything around birth so that I know exactly what your ideal birth looks like, what is important to you and dispel any fears you may have ahead of time.

I can do one-off appointments to plan you birth and I can do a full package of care, from booking in until 28 days after birth. I can provide a homebirth service and I can come with you into hospital as a birth support. Independent midwives cannot provide clinical care in a hospital setting unless we are employed by that trust.
Being an independent midwife you have more time to focus on each client that you have so you can spend the time doing research around different things specific to them, so I can come to you with lots of information so that you feel able to make the best choice around your care at each step of the way. I work with you so that you feel empowered to make the right choice for you in every situation.



3. There is a visible trend in various media putting more and more focus on ‘empowering women during labour’. What does this mean to you?

Empowering women to me is the ethos of why I want to be a midwife. I have seen time and time again, the impact of a birth where a woman does not feel empowered to make her own choices. We as midwives are so privileged to support women through a very vulnerable time in their lives where they feel very raw and exposed. Getting it right and having that woman leave the experience feeling like she faced each challenge with a supportive team, confidence in her own ability to know what is best for her baby and her body, is paramount. That is the feeling I want all women to have when they birth their baby. It is a powerful experience and one that will change you forever for the better if you feel empowered so that you are making the care decisions and the healthcare team are simply telling you what your options are, whether it’s choosing to have a blood test or where you want to have your baby.

4. What techniques can be used during labour to offer active support and empowerment?

I like to prepare women before labour so that they know what I can offer on the day and what they can opt to have. If I am caring for someone I have never met before in labour I like to come in and say, “What would you like me to do for you?” because I am a service provider, it is then up to that woman to opt in to each part of the service.

I explain why I am going to monitor the baby in labour and why I might suggest a walk up and down some stairs. You need to feel in control of what service you receive to support the birth that you are having.

Every woman has an amazing intuition and I consider listening to that as a vital part of assessing the birth and its progress.
Overall I like to be a cheerleader for the woman, and sometimes that looks like sitting in the next room and listening intently to each change of labour and sometimes it is massaging her back through each surge and reassuring her that she is safe.

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Dance teacher and infant massage instructor – a Mumpreneur!

Meet Jessica! An incredibly inspiring mamma who decided to open her won business and now four years later she’s running not one but two successful businesses, while taking care of her beautiful baby girl! She’s a Founder of BeYou Community Dance and Tiny Acorns Baby Massage operating in the North East

Can you tell me when did you start your business, please? 
What inspired you to become self employed and how long did it take from the concept to realisation?


I started what was to become my career during my 3rd year at University studying Dance professional practice (although I didn’t know it back then). 
I’ve danced from the age of 4, it’s kind of all I know so a career in dance was inevitable but by my 3rd and final year as a dance student I was still searching for the right path for me. I loved teaching and working with young children and so I decided to set up little preschool dance class.

I was excited to get started but my excitement was quickly met with my first little blow. I recall the disappointment when only 3 children turned up to my class. I'd trained in dance since the age of 4, performed, competed, undergone examinations and graduated from University with a 1:1 but I knew nothing about running a business, it was a huge culture shock! 
Despite the initial disappointment my little class started to grow week by week and I felt blessed to be working with such a great bunch of children and their families, so I kept moving forward. Some of these families are still with me today and its amazing seeing how much they’ve grown. 
Fast forward four years and while I'm still riding the rollercoaster I've found my niche. I've met some wonderful people and I've learnt so much about myself.


How do you fit your business with family life, what are the pros and cons and do you have any advice for balancing the both?

Finding balance when you run two businesses is understandably tricky and I do spend a lot of time worrying about that balance but my job also has lots of perks when it comes to flexibility and spending quality time with my daughter Maia.

One way I try to find balance is to always make sure I keep one day during the week completely work free. Sometimes that day involves a long walk or trip to the soft play, or we may just spend the day in our pyjamas. 
I don't feel like I'll ever get the balance right but we've been practicing slow living as a family which involves simplifying life, taking each day as it comes and enjoying the little things. 
I think as parents in today’s busy society we can sometimes be made to feel guilty for not doing enough with our kids but I’ve found more recently that Maia is most happiest and we experience the most special moments when we are doing the simplest of things.

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Baby & Toddler Sensory Classes in South Tyneside


Can you tell me when did you start your business, please? What inspired you to become self employed and how long did it take from the concept to realisation?

I started my Baby Sensory business in May 2011. Well the actual running of the classes started in May but the process began in January/February 2011. I had been taking my daughter Sofia to Baby Sensory classes in Monkseaton since she was 4 weeks old and I fell in love with them. It was the highlight of our week! Seeing the babies having so much fun each week (and the Mam’s too!) was amazing. 


I was due to go back to work as a Family & Crime Solicitor in February when my maternity leave ended. I remember feeling so sad around Christmas knowing I only had 6 more weeks of maternity leave and having to leave Sofia 3 days a week plus the occasional weekend too. 

I had been working as a solicitor for 7 years before I went on maternity and it was a job I had always wanted to do since being at school. I didn’t love or hate the job, it was quite enjoyable most days but also very high pressured and stressful. Had I not went on maternity leave I’d probably still be there now as I wouldn’t know what else was out there. Having a child made me re-evaluate my life. Taking time away from work allowed me to really think about whether being a solicitor and the hours it involved was the right thing for me and my daughter. I had always wanted to run my own business but I didn’t know what kind of business.  I started making enquiries into a Baby Sensory franchise shortly after Christmas 2010. By February I had signed my franchise agreement so it was all very quick! The following 3 months were a whirlwind of training, business planning, marketing, organising - all while still looking after my 8 month old baby! 




How do you fit your business with family life, what are the pros and cons and do you have any advice for balancing the both?

Being your own boss enables you to choose your own working days/hours. I really wanted to do the school pick ups/drop offs, attend the school plays and assemblies so having my own business has enabled me to do this. Initially I ran classes 3 mornings a week which increased to 4 days. I then had my second daughter Beatrice in 2014 and I scaled the classes back to 3 days so I could enjoy 2 days midweek with her. Having a business afforded me this flexibility and this is definitely one of the perks - it adapts to your life, making it fit around your family and it’s needs. 



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Gemma, and her story of becoming a business mamma!

I started my business in August 2012 after I had a huge wake up call that found me quitting my job as an Estate Agent, leaving my dysfunctional relationship, renting my house out, selling my car and most of my belongings and traveling round the world for 10 months. During this time I discoveredBuddhism, Meditation, Yoga, Mindfulness and very beautiful, simple and peaceful ways of living and felt called to bring these practices back home.

Originally I trained as a Holistic Therapist and offered Aromatherapy, Massage, Indian Head Massage and Reflexology.


When I became pregnant I knew that I didn’t want to work full time in hands on Therapy so I began training in other modalities that I could teach online.

I did further training in Life Coaching, Nutrition, Mindfulness, Meditation, Yoga, The Law of Attraction, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Reiki and Crystal Healing.

I have culminated all that I have learned into my Holistic Life Coaching Business which I now run virtually.


Tell me a bit more about your inspirations. Why did you want to become self employed?

Freedom - I am a natural born rebel, a free spirit with a passion for freedom and travel. I don’t like being told what to do and get bored quite easily when I am not inspired and creating - I have never been very good in jobs where you have to follow orders and go against your natural instincts and ethics.

I wanted to work on my own terms and be location independent so that I can travel the world whilst running my business.

I knew I wanted to Home Educate my children from them being quite young which has inspired me even more to be able to work in a business that I am so passionate about that fits around our life.

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