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PhD student’s entrepreneurial spirit helps transform lives

Dave Wood Friday 26 February 2016

Dave Wood returned to studying after 13 years in the probation service and went on to turn his research and passion for helping marginalised people into his own business. He recently received a Graduate Business Elevator Award and was named one of the 10 most inspirational freelance professionals in the UK.

In 2014, Dave made the decision to quit his job as a Senior Probation Officer and focus full time on his PhD in Theology and Criminology, with the hope of renewing his passion for his chosen career path.

He said: “Working with marginalised people is something I’ve done for a long time and is a real passion. However, after 13 years I found my views on the approach to probation had changed and I wanted to explore a different route.”

Having completed his Master’s at Hope, Dave began his PhD in 2010 with a focus on how theology can help people to stay away from crime.

“The journey of faith and crime are very similar, with the same themes of hope, reconciliation and identity,” said Dave. “I went into the Probation Service with a pastoral interest, and as my research progressed, I was keen to develop it into a life coaching programme and approached the Business School for advice on launching a pilot scheme.”

After trialling his programme through St Andrew’s Community Network, Dave founded Metanoeo, with a vision of engaging values, beliefs and faith in understanding and supporting the journey to liberated lives for the disadvantaged, troubled or troublesome.

The business has gone from strength to strength, and there are now 23 volunteers trained as peer coaches based at St Andrew’s, and Dave is looking to expand the programme to a new coaching hub at Changing Lives in Cheshire.

With Dave nominated at the Redemption and Justice Awards 2015, recognised as an UnLtd Fellow after gaining a Spark Award, and named as one of the UK’s 10 most inspirational freelance professionals by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), the future looks bright for Metanoeo.

He rounded out 2015 with a Graduate Business Elevator Award after being nominated in the Best General Start Up category at the national student business pitch contest The Grad Factor.

Dave said: “If it wasn’t for the support and advice of Hope, I wouldn’t have the business. I didn’t know where to start or who to approach, but tutors pointed me in the right direction and even helped me to secure funding for office space.

“My Criminology Lecturer Dr Ian Marsh is a regular source of support when I ring him with ideas, while my supervisors Dr Dominique Kurek-Chomycz, Lecturer in New Testament Studies, and Head of Criminal Justice Professor George Mair, have been fantastic.”

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