Shropshire mentors celebrate healthy eatery launch

Shropshire Youth Support Trust (SYST) charity and members of its ASYSTORS Panel are celebrating the launch of a brand-new lifestyle eating enterprise, Lyfbar in Lawley Square, Telford.

Team spirit from left Sean Gray, Alex Archibald, Jamie O'Toole, Bethany Tomlinson at work at Lyfbar
Team spirit from left Sean Gray, Alex Archibald, Jamie O’Toole, Bethany Tomlinson at work at Lyfbar

The brainchild of Alex Archibald and Bethany Tomlinson, Lyfbar offers a ‘healthy and convenient alternative to traditional fast food’ and illustrates how the ASYSTOR concept is helping nurture and drive forward entrepreneurial Shropshire talent.

Alex commented: “Our mission is to create a quick service grab and go health food eatery with a focus on nutritionally balanced foods. We’ve been blown away by the numbers of customers who are keen to come and try something new.  We prepared two days of food for our first day to kick off with and it lasted two hours! We are now serving around 200 people a day.”

The Shropshire Youth Support Trust runs enterprise centres for young people in Shropshire, a hub to help young and unemployed people in the local area find the opportunity to utilise their talents and potential so they can run profitable and viable businesses. Alex and Bethany have called the support and mentorship derived from the charity’s ASYSTORS scheme as invaluable and life-changing:

“Having been accepted as an ‘Asysted Business’ with the SYST charity, we were then able to access the ASYSTORS Panel and were awarded not only funds, but our own mentor, David Lloyd, Chief Executive of LAF Holdings, whose guidance, support and importantly, his challenges to our thinking, have been so valuable in helping us craft and launch our new concept.”

Maximising young people’s business and personal potential

Shropshire Youth Support Trust is all about maximising young people’s business and personal potential with a view to financial independence. The ASYSTORS Panel is an additional service offered by the charity, a scheme kicked off back in 2017 with five local founding companies: Brewin Dolphin, Morris & Company, Marches Care Homes, Dyke Yaxley and Wynn Developments. These companies were inspired to come together in support of the charity, pledging their time and expertise to young people aged 18-30 starting a business – as well as providing valuable financial support to make some business dreams reality.

Today, the scheme has grown with 14 companies now official ASYSTORS, who hold a Panel every month to meet and support young people with business ideas.

Candidates are then prescribed a Mentor who will go on a journey with them, drawing in additional resources as required, using their contacts and expertise. This can range from marketing to digital, legal to retail and IT, admin to finance. Whatever the young business idea requires, it can be facilitated. Over 25 young people have presented to the ASYSTORS Panel, with 18 provided with Mentorship and four awarded funding to help meet clearly defined business objectives. The business planning by the candidates therefore comes into sharp focus.

Alex commented: “We spent time researching our concept and the market context. There is a lot of miscommunication online about protein in the diet and we needed to understand if there was an appetite around this area for Lyfbar. We produced a survey asking people what they would like to see here and ‘healthy food’ had 97% of the votes from 500 people. Intuition and passion for your subject is great, but this research helped cement our thoughts within our Business Plan that this was the right thing to open in the area.”

Alex started off in the music business and had already launched a health food business called Smuvee before Lyfbar. He remembered meeting Shropshire Youth Support Trust Chief Executive & Mentor Richard Nuttall, back in 2016, which began the three-year association with the charity.

Bethany got to know Alex while at university where it became apparent they had a similar vision for healthy eating, and so their partnership began. Their ambition is to give the residents of Lawley and Telford the option to eat healthier and to act as a social hub where people can learn about the benefits of eating in this way and that it ‘didn’t have to be boring’. 

Beth handles the marketing, customer service and business communications and her status as an Instagram Influencer has helped support and drive interest in the launch of Lyfbar. Beth commented: “We are so encouraged by the response so far – and, of course, to be creating jobs here in Lawley.”

Richard Nuttall commented: “As a charity we have supported 116 Asysted Businesses, 25 of which are successfully trading. 91 businesses are currently being supported which vary dramatically in scale and ambition and we are delighted that a good number of these are now moving forward to the ASYSTOR scheme. It’s so rewarding to see these young people’s ideas progressing. It proves that you don’t have to be lucky or advantaged to build and create a business dream, you need a great idea, determination and grit along with professional and practical support to make it happen.”

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