Unlocking language skills online

Shelley Purchon founded English Unlocked in 2018, with the aim of helping organisations understand how to communicate clearly with people who speak English as an additional language.

With a background in teaching English as a foreign language, Shelley began with one course on effective communication which she delivered face-to-face. She quickly expanded to also offer training in how to work effectively with interpreters and how to use digital translation tools.

In March 2020, the first Coronavirus lockdown meant that Shelley had to stop delivering her face-to-face training. “Everything in my diary got cancelled and I had no bookings, just as the business was starting to grow,” said Shelley.

Shelley trialled delivering courses online through webinars but wanted to be able to create e-learning versions of her face-to-face training which would allow her to work with more clients.

£1,000 of funding from the North East Business Support Fund (Restart & Recovery/Kick-starting Tourism) was used to pay for the creation of e-learning courses plus short videos to promote them. Shelley began to build her network on LinkedIn, making links with potential clients in the UK and overseas including charities, statutory services, police forces and NHS trusts.

“Without this funding I wouldn’t have felt able to invest in an e-learning course,” said Shelley. “I would have been limited to delivering webinars which would have restricted my income. This grant has allowed me to increase my capacity and scale up the business.” In 2021, Shelley plans to focus on building her client base within the public and third sector, before shifting her focus to reaching more organisations in the private sector in 2022.

The North East Business Support Fund (Restart & Recovery/Kick-starting Tourism) is administered by North East Enterprise Agency NBSL.

NBSL is approved by BEIS and has achieved the Customer First accreditation. NBSL has a team of experienced business funding advisers who work with people and businesses across the North East to identify solutions that aid development and growth.

NBSL relaunched North East Business Support Fund in 2018. The inaugural round of funding was launched in 2012, since then NBSL has provided funding and support to businesses from an array of sectors spanning all corners of the region with a recent impact report finding that the fund has yielded an impressive £4.40 economic boost for every £1 invested.