So many people are asking for updates, it’s time we finally sort this blog out!
Maybe I should begin with a bit of our history?
VR therapies started in 2018 with 4 headsets and a lot of enthusiasm. One nurse (hi!) was becoming increasingly frustrated at all the cuts to NHS services, yet inspired by the incredible progress in healthcare technology. The latest medical and therapeutic advances were inaccessible to the very children and adults they were designed for, despite the amazing benefits. Virtual reality therapies should not be just for those already in the hospital, or the rich, or physically able… But traditional therapies were still hard enough for people with disabilities to access – let alone the next generation of healthcare!
VR provides immersive environments which can be similar to the real world or imaginary, creating an experience that is not possible in ordinary physical reality. The environment can be anything from the middle of the ocean to different galaxies or worlds. From reducing chronic pain and alleviating anxiety, to trips down memory lane and travelling the world… the experiences and benefits are endless.
So after a lot of research, in September 2018, an innovative and new social enterprise was born. We take those too poorly to walk swimming with dolphins, children undergoing chemotherapy to explore space… Swimming with dolphins is on most people’s bucket lists, a truly uplifting and serotonin boosting therapy. VR brings this experience which most people will never access, with all the benefits – a drug-free medicine with no side effects for you or the dolphin!
Through amazing support from so many people, I’ve been working hard over the last 6 months with a number of charities and healthcare units across Northamptonshire, providing individual and group sessions using the amazing world of VR. The benefits were immediately apparent as people forgot their pain, breathed easier and smiled more…
The dream was bigger though – much bigger. I needed at least £130,00 to fund the very first VR therapies centre that I always dreamed of. Combining hydrotherapy with VR so it truly feels like you’re swimming with dolphins and providing truly therapeutic VR experiences which are fully accessible and inclusive.
So I started applying to every funding and grant opportunity I could find. If you’re reading this and work in VR, there’s a good chance I’ve harassed you with loads of questions and ideas. Recently I was invited to pitch to a panel with representatives from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, First Enterprise and Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce. I never thought I’d be on my own version of Dragons Den!! After a 20-minute pitch complete with what I thought were hilarious memes of the Queen…
I was then grilled for another 40 minutes about the social enterprise. There’s nothing more disheartening than trying to reduce the passion of a social enterprise down to business talk! It was great to get their feedback and although I was sure my little one-woman start-up may be too early days for their investment, it was a fantastic learning opportunity and experience.
So you can imagine how excited I was when I got a phone call 2 hours later confirming I was successful in my application for £130,000. She’s only gone and done it!
We’ll be paying it back over 5 years so we will need a lot of support (and customers!!) for the next step in our journey. Just the equipment alone including all the pods and hoists and wet rooms etc. will cost £85k! After travelling home, I then found an email from Northampton Community Foundation awarding us £3,000 from the Queens Institute Fund. Thank you NCF!! Do you think she saw my pitch with her included? (Thanks hun! 😘)
So that was 2 days ago!
Thank you for joining us on this journey and please keep your hands inside the ride at all times!
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Thank you all again!
P.S It really is possible! #startup #socialentrepreneur #womeninbusiness