Trail-blazer Alvina is fast-tracked to success

30 Nov 2023
Enterprising single mum Alvina decided to capitalise on time at home bringing up her young children to launch her own community-minded business. With little appropriate experience it was a struggle to make ends meet until the Restart Scheme, delivered by Ingeus and partners, helped turn her fortunes around. Her company, For The People From The People CIC is now a viable business and is enhancing the lives of low-income families and black and ethnic minority groups across Hammersmith and Fulham. 
“The services we provide are based around the four pillars of health, finance, creativity and connection,” explains Alvina, 33. These include reducing poverty; organising food banks and helping with household bills; holding financial education workshops and tackling digital exclusion. There are also wellbeing workshops and events that focus on bringing communities together. 
Alvina, whose children are now aged six and 11, says: “For a long time the company wasn’t really sustainable, it wasn’t generating any money. When Jobcentre Plus told me about the Restart Scheme and Ingeus, I thought 'this sounds great'. I needed self-employment support, as passion alone does not sustain a business.”
Commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions, the Restart Scheme provides personalised, tailored help and advice for people who are out of work. Alvina’s Restart Advisor referred her to Ingeus partner Momentic for self-employment advice from business advisor Kirsty. This enabled Alvina to nail down a new business plan, business strategy and financial forecasts. She then applied for more funding and began paying herself a wage. Meanwhile, Restart Advisor Laura was always on hand at Ingeus to provide moral support and signpost Alvina to relevant courses and training.
Thanks to the Restart Scheme and Alvina’s determination to succeed, the business is going from strength to strength. One of the key strands of the company is the Bloody Happy Project, now known as Flow Happy, aimed at reducing period poverty and promoting period dignity. This project provides cabinets in local libraries and community centres stocked with free sanitary products. Since joining the Restart Scheme, Alvina has been able to expand the number of cabinets from eight to 13.
“It’s making a huge, huge difference, the feedback I’ve been getting has been really positive,” Alvina says. “We are looking to expand it across other London boroughs and get more funding to make feminine hygiene products more accessible to women.”
Alvina’s drive to help others came after she experienced financial difficulties in her youth. “After university I was really struggling. I never knew about food banks, I was just not aware. This is why I do a lot of outreach work to make sure people are aware of our services.”
Alvina always had the passion to make her business work, but the help she received from the Restart Scheme has fast-tracked her to success. She says: “They helped me to compartmentalise everything. I had knowledgeable people giving me advice and support, and that’s what was needed. I don’t come from a finance or business background. If you see the start-up statistics for low-income black women, it’s not very promising. I needed extra support.”
Alvina is now keen to advise others to join the Restart Scheme – and is also looking at ways of supporting Ingeus participants with the services her company provides. She adds: “For me, Restart was so helpful. Even just going in to the office to use the facilities. It’s a nice environment to be in, with tailored support. You have a plan of action and it motivates you to do it, I wish I had done sooner!”
Ingeus delivers the Restart Scheme in Central and West London and Greater Manchester and is partner to Serco, which delivers the scheme in Central West Midlands.

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