Irene Wales
Wirral’s Irene Wales spent 15 years building her education and confidence to run her own business.  Now Irene has realised her dream, putting her passion and experience into setting up ‘Wirral & Cheshire Therapy & Assessment”.

Irene had always worked, but she wanted to build a career for herself that she could carry on into retirement and wanted that business to be something that she truly loved. As an Approved Mental Health Practitioner and a Best Interests Assessor Irene said “My job was difficult, some elements of it were related to my training, but it became increasingly legalistic rather than therapeutic.  I wanted to do something using the therapy skills I’ve developed over the years and I just wasn’t getting the opportunity within my job. I’d done all this training, so the point came where I knew – right it’s time to start having clients.”

In her own times of difficulty or stress Irene had looked at the variety of therapies on offer and begun to practice mindfulness herself.  Learning what was out there to help people Irene said she realised that “It works!” and therefore focussing on therapeutic education seemed natural to her.

“I’ve always had a love for this sort of thing and done a lot of training over the last 15 years.  I’ve had my canal boat for about 9 years and I always thought it would be nice to do therapy sessions on there.  Being on a canal boat has a  natural relaxing effect anyway so it seemed to make sense to me.”

Irene’s boat Cruising Through Mindfulness
Irene had studied Social Work to Masters Level at University of Liverpool before receiving training to become an Approved Mental Health Practitioner at Manchester University and Best Interests Assessor training at Chester University, Irene has been studying therapies such as EFT, Person Centred Counselling, NLP, Solution Focused Therapy, Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy since 2000. Having the knowledge of her field, the passion and the tools to start building a business Irene realised that she needed a helping hand to take what she had and turn it into a business.  She told us:

 “I didn’t have a clue what to do.  I knew I needed advice, and after a bit of searching I found The Women’s Organisation and from there I never looked back.”

“My previous work experience was all service related, not at all related to core skills needed to run a business.    Coming to The Women’s Organisation I expected that I would be the only person there as clueless as I was.  But on the courses I found I met different people from all different backgrounds who had all this great energy, but were just as clueless as me.”

Through the RBS Inspiring Women in Enterprise programme Irene was given a full package of support by The Women’s Organisation’s POWER Programme including being linked with a business adviser to guide her through the business planning process, training on understanding tax and book keeping, practical social media training to help her to set up accounts on facebook, twitter, linkedin, mailchimp, blogger and hootsuite to promote the business as well as use of a virtual office address at 54 St James Street in Liverpool City Centre.

Irene said of The Women’s Organisation:
“I loved it! Every one of the team had such great skill and patience.  The information given on the courses was excellent  and the presenters were highly skilled and experienced.  I was impressed that they were able to meet the needs of so many people with such diverse backgrounds and business ideas.  The level of service and ability of the team at  WO is of a really high standard.  My fears were all dealt with one by one in a practical and patient manner whether this was on a one-to-one basis or in a group. Whenever I had questions there was someone who could answer me or help me to find the answer, or the right person, to signpost me towards support. Now I know I’ve got the basics covered, so I’m not worrying so much, I’m really glad I didn’t try to do it without their help. I feel much more confident about what I am doing having received their support.”

Now up and running ‘Wirral & Cheshire Therapy & Assessment’ offer a variety of health and well-being services including hypnotherapy, EFT, NLP, mindfulness, psychotherapy, independent and best interests assessment. Irene and team offer these services to individuals and couples from their Liverpool offices at 54 St James Street in the Baltic Triangle, to Wirral residents within their homes and to individuals, couples and small groups through their ‘Cruising Through Mindfulness’ boat trips in Cheshire.

Following their overwhelming support, Irene has made her business a real family affair. “My husband is truly ‘on board’ with the business as he steers the boat” Irene smiled “and my sister helps with therapy, which is great because she’s also a therapist and loves her work as much as I do.”

Looking back Irene reflects on what her younger self would have thought about her going into business in her 50’s saying “Growing up I never thought I would be a business woman. I never had any plans to be really.  I just found I was naturally drawn to therapies, and from there I carried on learning and this has been the natural next step. People don’t usually go into business at my age. But now I never have to retire. I think having worked in the industry I have for so long I’m conscious that I want to keep my mind active for as long as I can, and if I can do that by doing something I love then I will always want to do it.”

Transitioning from full time employment to self-employment has been a real change for Irene with some unexpected challenges.  “I’ve always had a job so I’d done years of free sessions for people, so taking money from people now has taken a bit of getting used to, but I’ve surprised myself.  I’m more confident now.  My family and friends have been a great support and encouragement telling me  “you have the skills and the opportunity, it’s time to do it”.  It’s great to have them be enthusiastic about it. It just feels right.”

Wirral & Cheshire Therapy & Assessment’s ‘Cruising Through Mindfulness’ boat trips are proving a real hit with small groups.  Irene told us about the boat and why it is leaving their clients feeling very satisfied:

“It’s a wheelchair accessible narrowboat, we provide refreshments throughout the day with a lovely lunch. People can have a go at steering the boat, and at the end of the day they leave having learnt mindfulness tools they can use every day.  They will have met other people, had fun and developed real skills to manage stress.”

Keen to continue building her business Irene is full of positivity and excitement for what the future holds. “The best thing about starting my own business is that I’m able to use the skills I’ve had and I am now doing what I love.”
To find out more about Wirral & Cheshire Therapy & Assessment and their ‘Cruising Through Mindfulness’ group work contact Irene Wales via

If like Irene you would like to put your education and experience into setting up your own business then get in touch with The Women’s Organisation to find out what support is available to help local women.  Whether looking for guidance on how to build a business plan, understand tax, national insurance and other legalities or gather practical tips on how to use social media to market your small business, contact 0151 706 8111 or to find out more.