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Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Monday, 9 August 2010 16:26 UK
A better life after redundancy
By Laura Joint
BBC Devon

Martine Coombs
Martine Coombs - a totally different person now

A Devon woman who lost her job after eight years working at an estate agency says that being made redundant was the best thing that could have happened.

Martine Coombs was part of the cutbacks made at a national estate agency chain as a result of the credit crunch.

She was laid off at the Plymouth agency in the summer of 2008, when the bottom fell out of the housing market.

For Martine, 43, it was a turning point in her life: "I can't believe how happy I am now compared to then," she said.

"I was working long hours and I was so stressed."

Martine worked as a senior sales consultant at the Mutley Plain branch of the estate agency from 2000-2008.

At the onset of the credit crunch in 2007, Martine saw the writing on the wall.

"It was a very stressful environment. For seven years I would be finishing late most evenings - sometimes 8pm. It was very, very busy.

"Then in the spring and summer of 2007, it dropped off - it was dead.

"I could see the way things were going so I took action straight away. I dropped down a day at work and did an evening course in holistic body massage at City College.

"It was something I always wanted to do and I really enjoyed it.

"Ironically, the day I was made redundant - 24 June 2008 - was the same day I passed my first diploma course. I took that as a sign."

Job Centre
Martine's advice is to stay positive and self-motivated

Martine took a part-time job with a care agency to pay for further courses and invested in a disused barber shop.

"I just let it sit there for a couple of years until I had completed my courses and increased my experience," said Martine.

On 12 July 2010, Maxine opened her clinic and she is now seeing people who are in the same boat she was in two years ago.

"I am really surprised at how many people I am seeing who are coming to me with stress-related problems."

Martine's story coincides with a report from Exeter-based training company, Westward Training and Personnel (WTP), which suggests that in some circumstances being made redundant is the kick-start people need to make positive changes to their lives.

Martine agrees: "It has been a lot of hard work, getting my own business going and there are obviously fears about throwing your last penny into it," she said.

"But I look a totally different person now, and I am happy and much calmer.

"What I would say to people who are facing redundancy is 'have faith in yourself - there are loads of different things you can do. And go to college to re-educate yourself in what interests you'.

"Also, get in touch with Business Link - they were fantastic.

"And they must stay positive and self-motivated. We've been here before with past recessions and we got out of it and we will this time."

And Martine's good news story is now a family affair - her 20-year-old daughter Jasmine has just qualified as a beauty therapist and will also be working at the clinic.

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