Bogged down with paperwork, tied to a desk and feeling his life slipping away, Phil Holland decided it was time for a change.

At the age of 37, the South Shields dad knew if he was going to take the leap of faith it was now or never.

So he packed in his job as a careers advisor with South Tyneside Council and enrolled on a course to qualify as a personal trainer.

Now, with support from the Enterprise Place, based at the University of Sunderland, Phil is on track to a new career – and a new life.

He said: “It got to the point where I was just sitting behind a desk 99% of the time, sorting out paperwork. I felt like I wasn’t really helping anyone.

“I suppose I got to the point where I realised I was 37 and if I was going to do something else, it was going to have to be now.

“But, it was a huge risk giving up financial security and taking a leap into the unknown.”

Phil, who took an Masters in Psychology at the University of Sunderland, believes the skills he has acquired can play a pivotal role in his new career.

He said: “There are many different avenues in the personal training field I’m hoping to get involved with. I’m interested in helping people coming through via exercise referrals, whether that’s those with special needs, or older people, or those with mental health issues.

“It’s a very broad spectrum and I want to explore that and use the skills I have learned through the Psychology MSc, as well as my experience helping people, to move my new career forward.”

Phil, who has a daughter Beatrice, aged five, says the Enterprise Place team has been critical in helping him get started and offering support and advice on his new career.

He added: “To be honest, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing to start with, so I just walked into the University and told them I wanted help starting my own business. They pointed to the Enterprise Place.

“It’s been brilliant, they told me how and where I could access financial support, they gave me a space to work from, so I wasn’t stuck in the house all the time, I’ve also been on a business enterprise weekend.”

Phil admits the past few months have been hard work as he aims to establish himself in the fitness industry.

“But I wouldn’t change it,” he adds. “I couldn’t go back to being tied to that desk all day.

“It takes courage to make a change like this in mid-career but it’s been worth it and I know there is quite a long way to go but I’m already enjoying this new challenge.”

The Enterprise Place is funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and available to all students and alumni of the University of Sunderland. The Enterprise Place offers office space and facilities, start-up and growth courses, and specialist advisers offering support and guidance all aimed at helping people turn a business idea into reality.

For more information visit here.

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