In 2012, Maureen O’Callaghan took the plunge and set up her own social enterprise, Now Unlimited, to introduce mindfulness into businesses, organisations and the community.
This is a way of helping people improve their mental health and well-being in all kinds of situations. Maureen now works with various organisations including Lincolnshire County Council, Beaumond House Community Hospice near Newark and Lincolnshire scouts. Maureen, who lives in Gonerby Hill Foot, tells us about her new venture, which she is relishing at the age of 64.
Why did you decide to start your new enterprise?
I have a background in voluntary sector management, particularly working with young people. I became interested in well-being because I realised that the mental health of staff was impacting on service delivery. How you feel mentally affects your physical health. I have studied a Masters in mindfulness. There has been 40 years of solid research into it. Many big companies access mindfulness to improve staff performance.
What is mindfulness?
There are a lot of misconceptions about it. We are talking about a secular approach which trains the brain to work more effectively and efficiently and be stronger. There is overwhelming scientific evidence showing that mindfulness, when introduced correctly, can improve physical and mental health and wellbeing. We are very grateful for the grants we have received from Awards for All for our work at Beaumond House Hospice. There is an urgent need for effective interventions that provide a holistic approach to meeting the needs of both patients and their caregivers and we are delighted to be working with Beaumond House to develop work in this area.
What kind of organisations do you work with?
We do some lovely work and it’s exciting stuff. We have funding from Nottinghamshire County Council to work on a mindfulness parenting programme and we also work with those recovering from drug addiction. In Skegness we work with unemployed people to improve their confidence and resilience. We also work with Lincolnshire County Council.
Why did you decide to start such an enterprise so late in your career?
I am 64 but it was not a financial risk. I have a state pension and a work pension so that was not an issue. With Now Unlimited I probably have more responsibility and work longer hours than I have ever done. I earn less than anybody else but then I don’t need it. Now Unlimited is a very flat structure and we work as a team. There were two things that excited me about starting it up. One was being able to help people and make a positive difference to their lives. The second was the creativity involved in setting up a business and the social side of it. I am very privileged to to have a good team working alongside me.
To find out more about Now Unlimited and its work go to www.nowunlimited.co.uk