Setting up a new business is a risky venture, particularly if it means leaving full time employment to start up a company that may take many months to become established.
Photographer Joseph Johny reduced his risk by joining Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust’s bank team, where he is able to work enough hours to give himself a reasonable income while also devoting time to the new business.
When Joseph decided to set up Ezzente with three photographer friends, he knew it would take time before the business would be successful enough to support the team full time.
“I was committed to the new business but I needed to earn some money while we were getting it off the ground, and so joining the bank was ideal for me,” he explained. “It is a really flexible set up which allows me to work three or four days a week but take time off to fulfil photography bookings when I need to.”
Joseph works as a booking clerk in the Administration Bank, based at Gravesend Community Hospital, and is responsible for providing staff from the Clinical Bank to fill nursing vacancies around the county.
“We take calls from teams who are short of nurses or other clinical staff and we make contact with people who have signed up to the Clinical Bank to fill as many of those vacancies as possible,” he explained.
With the trust’s own bank staff costing somewhere around £100 a shift less than an external agency would charge, the work Joseph and the rest of the team do is vital to the cost-effective running of the service.
But while Joseph works hard to persuade people to fill the shifts he has available so that the trust does not have to turn to the more expensive agency option, he recognises that the staff on his books have signed up for the same flexibility he enjoys.
“Working for the bank puts you in control,” he explained. “There are people who want to be able to decide what hours they work and be able to take time off when they need it. Being part of the bank means that you decide when you work and you are free to turn a shift down if it doesn’t suit your circumstances.”
There are other advantages to joining of the trust’s staff banks. “The trust provides superb training opportunities which bank staff can sign up to in order to develop new skills,” he said. “It’s also important to note that staff who already work full time for the trust can join the bank to pick up extra shifts, perhaps at a weekend.”
Joseph also believes that the trust looks favourably on hard-working and committed bank staff when full-time roles come up – if that is what the employee is looking for.
“There is lots of opportunity for the right people to progress in the trust and joining the bank can be a great way to start,” he said. “There are opportunities to learn new skills, work in different areas and gain valuable experience – all in a flexible way.”
Joseph came to the UK from Kerela in India in 2009, gained an NVQ level 4 in health and social care and worked as a health care assistant (HCA) and as an administrator in a number of care homes, most recently in Croydon.
“I decided that I wanted to move to somewhere a bit more rural, and at the same time I began to think about turning my love of photography into a business in partnership with some friends,” he said.
“I couldn’t afford to do that without any income, so I looked for a job that combined responsibility with flexible hours, and working for the trust proved to be just the thing.”
Ezzente specialises in wedding and social photography along with business promotions and birthdays. Not surprisingly Joseph is keen to support care homes with promotional shots. “I know the message they are keen to put across and I would like to provide the photographs to support that message,” he explained.
The other members of Ezzente, which include a videographer, are also trust bank staff, with has given the fledgling entrepreneurs the flexibility they need to grow at a sensible pace.