Jodie Hughes

Jodie Hughes is the founder of Endometriosis South Coast, a non-profit organisation providing support and information to all those suffering from Endometriosis. 

Being a businesswoman wasn’t originally on the cards for Jodie. She wanted to be a chef but found that her body could not cope with the physical demands of the kitchen. 

As someone who not only deals with the diagnosis herself on a daily basis, but also researches Endometriosis as part of her PhD program, Jodie realised the lack of support available to the 1 in 10 people with the condition. With no effective treatment or easy diagnosis, the charity looks to support and signpost people to the few services available in the local area. 

“I had the knowledge but getting it out there, to people, was tough. Setting up this business was my only way of doing it.  I thought, why don’t I turn into a charity so I can help more people, because then I can raise money. Put it back into the community.”

With a lack of business experience, Jodie was aware that she needed to gain as many new skills as possible to enable her to provide a solid service. 

“There are a lot of challenges and hurdles when it comes to setting up a charity, none of which I knew.  I thought, right, I’m gonna have to start enrolling into learning things, learning how to do finances, and how to manage time and manage people, and how to get volunteers and stuff.”

She was referred to the Start my Social Enterprise course on the Accelerating Women’s Enterprise (AWE) program run by the University of Portsmouth, and was surprised to find many other women experiencing the same overwhelming feeling of being out of their depth with running a business.

“It was a really good networking tool because we were all in the same position. None of us knew more than the other. It was nice to not feel so intimidated.”

Jodie says the charity is now thriving. Through a mixture of engagement with the local community, networking with businesses and service providers, and social media, Endometriosis South Coast is going from strength to strength each year.

“We are supporting people now from all over the world. In our Facebook group, we have around 900 people, thousands of followers on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and TikTok.”

Through the AWE, Jodie learnt how to value herself as a businesswoman. She took what felt like an almost impossible task and broke it down into small chunks of achievable targets. She now feels she can see a clearer path to reaching her ultimate goal.

Jodie’s advice for anyone starting their own social enterprise journey is to take all the help you can get: 

“Sign up to all the courses you can find. You can’t get through this on your own. There’s no way you can set up a social enterprise on your own. It takes a network!”

Case Study produced by Sass Adams for the AWE programme.