The Business Exchange Swindon & Wiltshire Edition 49: June/July 2020 - Page 15

@SWLEP On the business frontline In the April/May edition of The Business Exchange we announced the arrival of our new Swindon & Wiltshire Growth Hub Manager, Chris Stevens. It’s been a baptism of fire for Chris who soon after joining became an essential part of the ‘frontline’ team supporting businesses through one of the hardest times this country has faced since war time Britain. Here Chris gives an insight into his work to help Swindon and Wiltshire businesses access the support required to help them survive through these challenging times. The Growth Hub has been transformed through Covid-19, what was previously a mostly digital business support resource has been stepped up to offer an enhanced service. We mobilised a new Triage Plus Business Support Service with a dedicated support line and a team of six Business Navigators working directly with local businesses on their concerns. We were lucky to have four members of the Wiltshire Council Employment and Skills team seconded to us to help with the effort, they joined myself, Amanda Peach and Rob Creer, covering the whole region. Of the 550 businesses that have contacted the Growth Hub directly, 330 have in fact been in receipt of more intensive support from our Business Navigators. It is through this guidance that many organisations have gone on to apply for the Small Business Grants and Job Retention Schemes. I would like to say a huge thank you to our partners at both Swindon and Wiltshire Council and Business West for working tirelessly. There is still a lot of work to do and many challenges to overcome but together we are stronger. There have been so many amazing ways that local businesses have diversified during this process. One great example is Dobie Wyatt in Marlborough. The company specialises in the manufacture and repair of tarpaulins. During the pandemic they’ve re-purposed to make plastic face shields. Then there’s Ramsbury Brewery who’ve been making hand sanitiser and distributing to the NHS. Every business in one way or another has had to drastically rethink its offering and the resilience that I’ve experienced has been extraordinary. It makes me feel very proud, people are showing a real mental strength to get through these times. I’ve been in awe of the determination to come out the other end. For any business that requires support, whether it be eligibility for the various Government grant schemes or more general support regarding the reopening of their business I urge them to get in touch. We’re here to chat through your concerns. 07866 117104 chris.stevens@swlep.co.uk