It seems we can’t go a day in the news without hearing about the affects of poor mental health on young people. One Oswestry business is doing its bit to tackle the issues head on as part of the anniversary of 15 years in business in the town with a ‘year of giving back’.
Woodhead Oswestry Sales and Lettings has provided funding for a series of Happiness Clubs in two schools in the town.
Bellan House and Woodside School have already rolled out the four-week courses to its pupils.
Kate Howell of Woodhead Oswestry Sales and Lettings explains the reason behind the Happiness Clubs: “At work we are seeing the effect of mental health issues. We live in a small area and have seen a lot of people take their lives and it affects us all.
“We would like young people to learn the skills of coping with different situations in life. What seems desperate today can improve tomorrow and it can be a better day. Kids face a lot of sad situations and these sessions give them some of the basic tools to deal with it.”
Kate, who faced tragedy in her own life after her father lost his life to cancer was able to throw herself into work 15 years-ago by setting up the popular estate agents located on Leg Street.
“I came from an independent family business background, so working hard was all I knew how to do. It was the loss of my dad which spurred me to set up the business all those years ago. With nothing but a small business loan and a lot of help from family and friends, I opened the agency.”
Kate was a woman in a man’s world back then. The only female estate agent to set up in the town and faced all the challenges of breaking into an established industry.
But it was this fresh approach, youth and enthusiasm that helped her cement her place in the town’s business world. She brought her knowledge of new technology with her and continues to lead in this field. She was the first to install a digital touch screen in her shop window.
“We’re the oldest of the new and the youngest of the old,” beams Kate, “so we’ve got our finger on the pulse. We stay ahead of legislation and compliance and can react quickly to change.”
Woodhead Oswestry Sales and Lettings is a member of the prestigious Guild of Property Professionals and often welcomes industry leaders such as the head of the Landlord’s Association and the head of compliance in the UK to its Oswestry branch.
After nearly 25 years in the industry, Kate has seen some significant changes in the town’s property market, but none more so than now.
“Now seems to be the biggest change in Oswestry’s history. We’re at the start of a lot of big developments like Aico, Morrisons and several large housing developments.
“Years ago, I bought my building because I believed in the town and I believe that more businesses will come here. The infrastructure is starting to improve, and the town has waited a long time to see progress like this.”
The estate agency and subsequent addition of the Principality Oswestry agency have continued to grow from strength to strength, now employing 10 people and becoming the fastest growing agency the Principality have ever had.
The future for Kate and Woodhead looks bright.
“I don’t want to be the biggest, I want to be the best. I like the fact that the industry is becoming more regulated and we will be working harder than ever. I embrace that challenge.
“I like working with people. I like people telling me what they want and going out and finding it for them or them telling me they don’t want something, and I can sell it for them. It’s a very satisfying part of my role.”
Asked what advice she had for other aspiring entrepreneurs, she said “Your passion for your business has got to come from the heart so you can give it everything you’ve got. Blood, sweat and tears have gone into making the business what it is today.”
As mental health continues to play an important role in society, so Kate continues to wave the banner for mental health initiatives in local schools. “Mental health touches everybody. I threw myself into the business to cope with the death of my father. Little ones are our future. If we can help one child to learn how to cope with a challenging situation through the Happiness Club, then it has all been worth it.”