AN EXPERIENCED former NHS podiatrist has taken the leap into self-employment with the launch of her own practice with the support of a business loan.

Jaqueline Glen spent 22 years of career working for the NHS, but noticed the growing demand for private podiatry clinics and decided the time was right to set up Grange Road Podiatry in Darlington.

The clinic has been opened with backing from TEDCO Business Support, Darlington Borough Council and a low-cost business loan from Virgin StartUp.

Ms Glen accessed the loan with help from her business advisor, Judith Wheatley from TEDCO Business Support. Virgin StartUp offers Government-backed low-cost business loans designed to help entrepreneurs gain access to the capital they need to launch new enterprises in the region.

The programme is exclusively delivered in the North-East by TEDCO Business Support, giving firms access to a range of finance options to secure business capital.

Ms Glen already has growth plans for 2019 and is looking for two part-time employees to work in her complementary retail outlet at Grange Road Podiatry to help customers looking for orthotic footwear for all walks of life.

She said: "Generally, patients are looking for quite specific treatment around more common issues affecting the feet such as corns, calluses or a verruca but we also carry out nail surgery for ingrown nails or other nail-related problems.

“The feet can be such a neglected area of the body which is why I introduced a more wide-ranging selection of treatments.

"This includes footcare advice for diabetics but we also have a growing part of the practice dedicated to biomechanical assessment to help prevent injuries or damage arising from unsuitable footwear."

The new business owner was introduced to TEDCO when she contacted Darlington Borough Council’s Business Support team.

The team provided a free and impartial property search and helped to find new business premises for Ms Glen, as well as offering a grant towards business rates available to support new independent businesses taking on an empty unit in the town centre.

Judith Wheatley, TEDCO business advisor, said: “Entering into private practice is a daunting prospect for anyone and it can be easy to become overwhelmed with the minutiae of launching and running a business.

"Jaqueline was clear from the outset on the type of business she wanted to run and how she could integrate complimentary services, such as the footwear retail outlet, to help provide more for her customers. I wish her the very best of luck."