It is a career path which has seen many twists and turns, from criminology to the homeless.
But each time Helen Beachell has changed direction her
primary purpose has remained the same - helping others.
And after coming to the aid of some of Huddersfield’s most disadvantaged people, she has now turned her talents to a new role, with a family run business which specialises in providing employment law, HR and health and safety advice and support to other companies.
It is no mean achievement for a woman who juggles her work with a “chaotic, fun filled” home life where four children keep her on the go.
Helen was brought up in Pocklington, in East Yorkshire, in the 80’s, and says she is ‘still a bit of a closet 80’s fan to this day’.
She studied in Newcastle upon Tyne, graduating with an Honours Degree in Criminology and Sociology in 2001, and from there was able to pursue a career in an area she had always found interesting.
She has been involved in many parts of the criminal justice system, working for the Prison Service, before later becoming a probation officer, working in the courts and police custody suites, and going on to work in drug treatment services.
During that time she moved to West Yorkshire 11 years ago, and has never left.
“West Yorkshire adopted me and I now feel more at home here than I ever have anywhere. I can’t see me leaving now, I’m really happy here.”
In 2010 she made a big change, working for and later running Simon On The Streets, a West Yorkshire charity that supports people sleeping rough and lacking support from mainstream services.
This work led her to Huddersfield, setting up a project in 2010 which has gone from strength to strength.
She spent two years as operations manager, and three years as general manager, working to raise public awareness and understanding of the issue of rough sleeping and why it occurs, as well as raising the profile of the charity, designing and running fundraising events such as #sleepwithsimon at the John Smith’s Stadium, which were needed to generate £250,000 a year.
She loved her time with the charity, which is why some were surprised when she switched course, and joined Howarths, the Cleckheaton-based employment law specialists.
“For many, a move to Howarths wasn’t the obvious move for me, but for me it makes perfect sense.
“I’ve always been interested in the law in many different areas, and I am driven by a really strong sense of fairness, doing what is right and I have a passion for fighting injustice and unfair treatment.
“Howarths supported me as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility when I worked at Simon On The Streets by taking care of all of our employment law and health and safety legislation, and what started as a professional relationship very soon became a firm friendship.
“I loved the warm welcome I got, and in truth, it was always somewhere I would try and “pop in” whenever I could.
“It always felt like a business with a heart. When the Board of Directors approached me about joining their team, it was just the change I was ready for.
“I’d spent almost a year telling my partner, Andy, what a great group of people they are, and how lovely they must be to work with.
“I don’t underestimate how difficult it must be to open up what is essentially a family business to someone new, and I’m delighted and humbled that they chose me. So, now I’m here and loving every minute of it.”
As business development manager her role is to work on a strategy for growth. Key focuses at present include marketing streams, particularly digital, and Helen enjoys working closely with Howarth Miller on the creative side of brand and marketing.
“My role now is a great opportunity for me to bring together all the skills I have learned over the last 15 years. I’ve learned my best lessons by getting things wrong but I’ve also learned that there is often more value in those lessons than in anything else.
“I have learned the hard way how to grow an organisation in one of the hardest areas imaginable - rough sleeper charities are not the easiest to gather support for - and I’ve built a great network of amazingly talented people and businesses.
“I’m excited to be able to use those skills to work with the board here to take Howarths into their next phase of growth, and beyond. The business here has gone from strength to strength over recent years, and now it’s all about finding ways to ensure that the high quality of service we offer that goes hand in hand with the warm, friendly and supportive way of working with each client isn’t compromised as we grow. We’re all totally committed to preserving them because they are what set us apart from our competition. We won’t be another faceless, call centre employment law company.
“We will continue to offer a down-to-earth, very personal service that offers straight talking and commercial advice from qualified advisors. We want to see our clients and learn about their business.”
As for the future, she now seems ready to finally put down some business roots.
“In 10 years’ time I’d like to be here, reflecting on how we’ve grown and what we’ve achieved, and looking ahead to the next 10 and making more plans. I feel part of the family here now, and that means a lot.
“Work for me has to fit around our four children. Weekends are usually fun-filled and chaotic, to say the least, but we are a close family who love to get outside whenever we can.
“Evenings revolve around the kids’ ever-growing social lives, but when we manage to get time to ourselves we find that we’re not too good at sitting still! We’re always on the go, but we really live, and we’re happy.”
Role: Business development director
Family: 4 children, 2 are mine, 2 are my partner’s.
Car: Skoda Octavia
Holidays: Love the Canaries and the Greek Islands
First job: Checkouts at Presto!
Best thing about the job? Working as part of such a warm and focused team who all pull together in the same direction
Worst thing about the job? The journey to work on the M62!
Business tip: Have time for people, you can learn in the most unlikely places
Work: Employment Law, Health and Safety, Training
Phone: 01274 864999