Five years ago Nicola Dady set up Don’t Forget The Kids, a registered charity that supports children 0-17 who are touched by cancer or the bereavement of a loved one. They provide creative art peer support sessions and send care packages to those families that can’t access group support.www.dontforgetthekids.co.uk
What drove you to start Don’t Forget the Kids?
In 2010 I was diagnosed with kidney and bladder cancer. Being a single mother of two beautiful children, then three and seven years old, I was more concerned for their emotional and mental well-being, rather than my own. I was surprised that when looking for support for them, I could not find any. So I decided to start a support system for my children and others like them.
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
I really had no career. I was a single parent doing some volunteer work, that was about it. I really didn’t have any ambition or belief in myself that I could do anything amazing.
Tell us about the business planning stage.
I contacted a few of my nearest and dearest and shared my vision with them. They were all excited about it and were happy to form a team. We had weekly meetings and conducted research. We sought advice from people who had experience of the process of starting a non-profit and just went with our guts.
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
We have team meetings every 4-6 weeks at which we set a plan for the next 4-6 weeks and review what we have done in the previous weeks. However, my life is very hectic so often the plan changes.
Can you describe a typical working day?
After setting the children off to school, I spend a couple of hours on my health, which includes breakfast and a 45 min swim. I head down to the office, check emails and make phone calls, plan meetings etc. I try to arrange meetings for the afternoons before 3:30 pm as I have to do the school run. However, work doesn’t stop there as when I get home, after cooking and spending some time catching up with the children, I usually have the laptop out working on other projects.
Before bed, I like to read some sort of self-help book or listen/ watch motivational videos.
What has been the most amazing day in your working life so far?
The launch of Don’t Forget The Kids was probably the most amazing day. The team and I had planned a Summer Sunday Fundraiser. It was held in North London. It was the hottest day of the year and the turnout was phenomenal. A very fun and emotional day was had by many. I was so overwhelmed with the love and support of the community and really proud of myself for daring to live my dream. That was the day I found the belief that I can achieve anything I put my heart into.
What has been your scariest moment?
The scariest moment I guess was last year when I was awarded a Travelling Fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. I was given the opportunity to travel to America and research creative ways of helping children through the bereavement process. It was for six weeks. Although I felt very proud of myself, I was so scared to leave my children for so long and also to be travelling around America alone.
However, I fought the fear and accepted the Fellowship. It was an amazing experience and my children got to fly out to Florida on the last leg of the journey and share the experience with me.
How do you work on making the charity grow?
It really is a team effort. We promote on all social network platforms. Distribute leaflets and posters to schools, libraries, GP surgeries etc. We are aiming to start two new support groups in different areas, which means applying for more funding and growing our team.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
The best thing about being my own boss is that my children are learning that they too can live their dreams. My son is ten and has already started his own clothing brand which is doing really well.
What are the challenges of working for yourself and how do you tackle them?
The main challenge is motivation. As I don’t have a typical 9 to 5 it’s easy to say ‘I’ll do it later.’ Procrastination is probably one of my biggest issues. I’m working on it though. I still manage to get things done to a high standard.
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
One of my close friends Gilera. He is the founder of ‘Bear Gass clothing’ ‘Mentor Thursdays’ and ‘Connect You’, which is a platform to aspire, inspire and connect people from all different walks of life. He is a beast when it comes to business and is one of the most inspiring entrepreneurs I have ever met. I have watched his journey over the years and I am very proud of his achievements.
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business? And who was it from?
When I was questioning whether I had the capability to start Don’t Forget The Kids, My supervisor and mentor Verona Pullar told me – “Believe in yourself. You are more than capable of doing this.”
What are the three books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other business owners?
This is a hard one because there are so many.
- ‘The Secret’ By Rhonda Bryne
- ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ By Robert T Kiyosaki
- ‘The Law of Success’ By Napoleon Hill
What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?
I have many passions. I love to blog about the trials and tribulations of life. I write poetry and I am also working on a screenplay. I love to dance, at the moment I am very much into Latin dance, Salsa and Kizomba in particular. I enjoy reading anything from magazines to fictional writing, self-help and biography. I love to be in and around nature, whether it be in a park, in the sea or on a mountain. I just can’t get enough.
Don’t Forget the Kids won the PRECIOUS Social Enterprise of the Year Award at the 2016 PRECIOUS Awards