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Commerce or charity: where is the line?

This month we meet and interview an inspirational young lady who when faced with redundancy decided to not only create her own job but to also start a charity. Richard Shakespeare went to find out more.

Lauren Benton is a 23 year old Derby-based businesswoman who now runs B.O.D.Y; Being One Distinguished You is a charity which has been set up to help individuals diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) – a condition where people are excessively worried about a part of their body which they believe is defective.  Lauren was diagnosed with BDD after visiting her GP; friends had become concerned about Laurens exercising habits, her self-esteem and the way that the young lady felt about her body.

Many hours would be spent sitting at her desk looking at photos in the media of high profile female celebrities and she yearned to have the perfect body; Lauren was prepared to work hard to look just like her idols.

Driven by her desire to look like a “magazine girl” the young lady began visiting the gym up to three times a day and allowed exercise to take over her life. Desperately unhappy with her figure Lauren decided to tackle it head on – at her heaviest Lauren weighed 23 stone, a staggering weight loss of over 11 stone in one year*.

When faced with redundancy from a major financial institution Lauren began considering her career options and looking to the future, the job market was somewhat rocky and Lauren knew this was her chance to make a real difference! Instead of going down a more traditional route of either finding another job or maybe even setting up a business this young lady decided to set up and run a charity.

Speaking at her office in Derby Lauren told me: “Without a doubt setting up B.O.D.Y has been a real challenge, it’s one of the hardest things I have ever done.” Does this mean it is not worth doing? – Of course not.  “Running a charity is in some ways more challenging than running a business; we are very heavily regulated and must always keep public benefit at the forefront of our minds”

Lauren has provided some hints and tips for anyone who might be thinking of starting a charity.

  • Make Sure You Have A Good Support Network – You will need the support of family and freinds if you decide to start a charity. Lauren freely admits that “running a charity is a stressful job and is harder than you think, I have been fortunate in that my family and freinds are behind me,
  • Be Prepared To Put In The Hours – Running a chairty is very much like running a business, it will take dedication and effort.
  • Read Everything – You will need to understand complex issues; charities are heavily regulated and it can be a real minefield of information. Take the time to read things and check your understanding.
  • Be Organised – Dealing with applications for lottery funding and taxation issues could take up lots of your time so make sure you are aware of deadlines and important timescales.
  • Networking is Key – You will need to build relationships with local business people and the community so get yourself out and about as often as you can.
  • Finance – We all worry about money! If you are starting a charity or a business from scratch think about how you will survive and pay bills in those early days.
  • Allow Time – If you are expecting a quote or relying on someone else then always over-estimate how long it might take.
  • Make sure you want to do it – You need to be 100% committed to the cause, if you lose passion and drive for the charity then it could go down hill very quickly.
  • Speak to people – You won’t be the first person to have set up a charity, so build relationships and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need  it.

The Charity aims to re-educate the public about BDD, cure sufferers and offer support and advice to loved ones and carers. By working alongside psychotherapists and other health professionals B.O.D.Y aims to provide seminars and self-help classes.

B.O.D.Y has a week of fundraising activities planned starting on May 14th where this young entrepreneur will be taking part in the three peaks challenge, skydiving and all manner of other fun packed events aimed at increasing awareness. If you would like to find out more then please either visit the B.O.D.Y website or contact Lauren and her team on the number below.

*It is important to lose weight in the right way and to maintain a balanced diet;
B.O.D.Y has established some “healthy parameters” to help individuals.  If you feel that you would like to talk to someone or need advice please contact B.O.D.Y on 01332 258833 or email: [email protected]

This article was taken from the Jobs&Careers website.