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CLL Part-time Social Studies Student starts up her degree and own business in the same year

Over four years ago, Marie-Claire attended an Open Day at Coventry Library and started talking to a former CLL student. Working full-time and also a mum, she was concerned about how she’d manage her time whilst juggling work and family life.

“I met a former CLL student, who was also a mum to 4 or 5 children, as I had a child of my own, meeting her just gave me the confidence I needed.” She recalls.

Little did she know how quickly her career would develop once starting her studies. Joining CLL on the Part-time Social Studies Degree in October 2014, Marie-Claire went on to set up her own business only a month later, securing £1,000 of funding from the Student Enterprise Fund through WBS (Warwick Business School). The Fund is aimed at students who have an innovative idea for a new business or social enterprise, they are also offered development support, workshops, events and networking opportunities.

“It was hard starting both at the same time, sacrificing family time and my social life. But I definitely feel happier and fulfilled.”

On November 5th 2014, The New Leaf Initiative was founded, a peer mentoring organisation specialising in prison to employment outcomes. They set up prison industry and employability training and multiple opportunities for prisoners, and ex-offenders out in the community in order to reduce reoffending. The company has since supported 187 people with intensive one-to-one mentoring, worked with major corporations such as Virgin Trains on employing people with convictions and created processes for consulting authentically with people with lived experience of the criminal justice system.

new leaf

“I really benefited from joining Warwick.” She explains. “The funding has helped from WBS and I have been able to tie in my assignments around my business. My dissertation is currently related to a project we are preparing to launch at New Leaf.”

Now in her final year, Marie-Claire is working towards not only her graduation in the summer of 2019 but also the continued growth of her business which has taken on new staff this year including student volunteers and ex-probation workers.

She was also nominated for and won Outstanding Individual of the Year award by the Criminal Justice Awards last month. The judges commended her for her ‘leadership, entrepreneurship and impact, built on her first-hand experience’.


“I love my studies – it may not lead to a promotion as I’m already the Managing Director, but I’ve been able to learn the theory and embed the knowledge straight away within my business. I've loved stretching myself and seeing what I am really capable of. It’s been an exciting journey and I can’t wait to see what’s next”

Interested in studying with CLL? Find out more on our course pages.