May 1 coronavirus update for businesses

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Blackpool Council employees redeployed

A number of Blackpool Council employees have been redeployed to help maintain the delivery of essential services during the coronavirus pandemic. Some council employees were identified as suitable for redeployment within the community hubs where, alongside volunteers, councillors and local organisations, they have been assisting with the provision of shopping services, medication supplies, dog walking, a befriending service and food parcel distribution, which has distributed 214,000 meals so far.

The council's coronavirus response includes handling 250 calls per day to its Coronavirus Kindness helpline and contact with 3,000 vulnerable residents. The business helpdesk has received 12,000 enquiries and has paid out £33m in grants.

A full report of council activities will be made available at the town council's May 11 meeting, which will be held via YouTube. 

Neil Jack, chief executive of Blackpool Council, said: "Our ability to adapt seamlessly to this fast-moving scenario became of paramount importance and we made it very clear that we would do whatever was required to support our residents and businesses even if we did not necessarily know how we would fund it at the time. Since then, the imagination, dedication and devotion to duty that has been demonstrated by so many has been extraordinary."

Studio donates to NHS and schools

Studio, the Accrington based online value retailer, has donated tens of thousands of items to key workers, hospitals and schools across Lancashire in a bid to support the local community through the Coronavirus pandemic.

The company has donated thousands of towels and pillowcases to NHS hospital trusts across Lancashire to help frontline staff with their increased hygiene and laundry routines.

The team is also supporting parents in the town by delivering more 20,000 stationery and home learning resources to pupils in and around the town.

Studio has also donated to a number of projects. The company covered the cost of the repairs at the Derian House charity shop which was recently damaged by thieves, and replaced the garden furniture of a nurse who had hers stolen last month.

Paul Kendrick, managing director, said: "From families who need help through this period of home schooling to our amazing NHS teams who are facing the virus head-on every day, we want to support our local community in any way we can and we hope these donations help."

Home baking rise boosts Wham sales

The coronavirus lockdown has inspired the British public to try their hand at home baking, which has resulted in a boost in sales for plastic bakeware manufacturer What More UK. The Altham-based firm has begun running night shifts to keep up with demand.

Director Tony Grimshaw said: "It's great that people are remembering the traditional skills of home baking. If there's one good thing that comes out of this national crisis, it'll be a generation of kids who learnt how to cook a decent meal by watching their parents in the kitchen, like it used to be in the days before takeaways, microwave meals and TV dinners."

Hay bale rainbow raises cash for Derian House

A farmer from Billinge has constructed a giant hay bale rainbow (pictured) in a bid to raise money for Derian House Children's Hospice. The 84 round hay bales, lifted into place and decorated by Gemma Crompton and family, has so far raised more than £1,600 of its original £2,000 goal.

The charity looks after more than 400 children and young people with life-limiting conditions, helping them to make the most of the time they have. But donations at the charity have been badly affected by the coronavirus outbreak, with fundraising events due to bring in £250,000 cancelled and charity shops forced to close. 

Sarah Proctor, community fundraiser at Derian House Children’s Hospice, said: “Derian’s Rainbow is one of the most visually striking and creative ways of raising money we’ve ever seen – it’s absolutely mind-blowing in its sheer scale and we’re so grateful to Gemma and her family for putting in such a top effort to raise money for our children."

Fresh Perspective secures Northern Powerhouse loan

Chorley-based recruitment firm Fresh Perspect has secured a £35,000 Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund loan, provided by GC Business Finance and backed by the government's Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Determined to keep their staff fully employed during the pandemic lockdown, FP has been forced to diversify, and has created virtual training for candidates and businesses through webinars. 

Laura Leyland, founder and managing director, said: “The loan has allowed us to continue the work we do and knowing we have the loan feels like a safety net in these troubling times. The process was really simple, and the team at Lancashire County Council and GCBF were extremely helpful in delivering the loan efficiently and providing sound advice."

Companies being denies access to finance

Ged Cosgrove, group managing partner of Champion Accountants, has said that he has witnessed businesses being turned away by banks despite government assurance that they would help.

He said: "We have supported a number of clients in successfully securing a funding package under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme. Despite this, several clients have been turned down for various reasons; some that we do not agree are plausible grounds for refusal and are working with these businesses to devise their next course of action. It is disappointing considering the chancellor guaranteed that ‘any good business in financial difficulty who needs access to cash to pay their rent, the salaries of their employees, pay suppliers, or purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan’."

He added: "While, at present, there is no formal end to the government’s lockdown restrictions, it is sensible for businesses to begin planning for a staged return to the workplace. With the UK set to face some form of social distancing for some time to come, employers must navigate a return that prioritises the health, safety and wellbeing of their teams and supports those who will be anxious about travelling to and residing in work."

Mediterranean Linens supports NHS

Burnley-based Mediterranean Linens is contributing to the national effort against coronavirus by converting its famous cotton pillowcases into scrubs bags for NHS staff.

The company was approached with the request but has gone one step further by filling the bags with gifts, such as pens and pencils, chocolates, key rings, face and hand creams.

Ashraf Said, founder and managing director, said: "We want to say a massive, heartfelt thank you to everyone who works on the front line of this crisis. We are so proud of the NHS. It's the envy of the world. With these gifts, we are saying that we are so grateful for everything you do. If any other organisations would like to contribute something to the scrubs bags, please get in touch as soon as possible."

Napthens offers mental health support

Law firm Napthens is offering mental health support to its clients who may need help during the current or future crises. Seven members of the firm’s legal teams have already qualified as certified Mental Health First Aiders which enables them to help clients who may be suffering various mental health issues during a stressful time, from experiencing of the death of a loved one, caring for incapacitated relatives or divorce.

Simon Ainsworth, head of private client at Napthens, said: "The mental health and wellbeing of our clients is as important to us as their legal health. We are a big part of our local communities and this is just another way of assisting clients to ensure they receive the best advice."

Free social media support

Burnley-based marketing agency Root Fifty Two is offering free social media support to local businesses, including a review, account set-up, new graphics and hints and tips. 

Managing director Kimberley Thompson said: "In this time of lockdown, it’s important to stay connected, and online social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are a valuable tool when it comes to virtually closing the gaps that have physically been forced between us all.

"We know that many businesses, small and large, will be facing struggles as a result of COVID-19, and we’d like to help. By supporting each other and working together, we will pull through this pandemic, and right now our mission is to provide support and guidance to business owners as much as we can."

  • Contact Root Fifty Two on 01282 685430 to take advantage of this offer.