Ready, teddy, go!

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A personalised teddy bear and memory cushion company has been launched by a Liskeard woman with help from Jobcentre Plus and Active Plus.

Lorna Maclean, 53, decided to pursue her business idea after personal circumstances changed and she became a single parent with no income.

She was referred by Liskeard Jobcentre to an Active Plus course specifically designed for people over 50 and funded through the Flexible Support Fund.

After additional support from Outset Cornwall, Maclean joined the DWP New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) Programme and the Flexible Support Funding (FSF) helped to buy an embroidery machine, and her business, Emiko Bears was launched.

Lorna Maclean and some of her handmade Emiko bears
Lorna Maclean and some of her handmade Emiko bears

The bears and cushions are handmade from cherished items of clothing – for instance a baby or young child’s first clothing or clothing that marks a special occasion such as first birthday or Christmas.

She said: “I have always sewn and created all sorts of crafts including making mohair collectors bears. Inspired by an idea that someone gave me and by a bag of my own children’s clothing that I couldn’t bring myself to part with I began making memory bears. Emiko means ‘Beautiful, smiling child’ – my keepsake bears capture your special memories of your own beautiful, smiling child.”

Active Plus is a community interest company, where military veterans who have physical injuries or have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, deliver courses that build confidence, motivation and life-skills. It was established with ESF (European Social Fund) Convergence investment and is now delivering a range of services funded by mainstream organisations such as DWP.

Active Plus director, Tim Cocks, added: “It is fantastic to know that our injured veterans have helped in some way to inspire Lorna. Their aim is to use their skills, knowledge and experiences to help others, and in doing that they increase their own health and wellbeing.

“I know the injured veterans that helped Lorna have all benefitted by her great progress.”

For more information see the Emiko Bears Facebook page.