Local business consultant Julie Holden has broken new ground this week, through a council funded project to help local businesses. The business support programme has been put together in partnership with SaveTheHighStreet.org and uses a unique ‘digital assistant’ platform called Jo (JoinJo.com).
Although business support schemes are not a new idea, the localism of the funding and the level of collaboration in this instance are inspirational. This is the first time that a local champion has set up and launched a tangible programme of support on the Jo platform, using Parish Council funds.
Julie has been working with SaveTheHighStreet.org since August 2020 and has project managed the delivery of several Borough-wide Covid19 recovery schemes in the past 6 months. She heard about the opportunity to propose a local project when Polesworth Parish Council, based in North Warwickshire, announced a new fund that was aimed at supporting local businesses. The purpose of the Covid19 Recovery Fund is to help to regenerate the local area, including developing skills and opening up more opportunities for local residents to spend money with businesses and services within the Parish.
Only businesses within the Parish are eligible to apply for the grants. Julie’s consultancy business Splendid Work Limited is registered in Warton, based within the Polesworth Parish. She made an application for a project to provide a programme of support for up to 10 local businesses, in partnership with SaveTheHighStreet.org and Jo. She was delighted when she received news that her proposal had been approved by the committee at their January meeting.
The 8-week programme was launched on Wednesday 3rd February at a live stream of the Parish Council meeting, and registrations are now open. New and existing businesses of all types in Birchmoor, Polesworth and Warton can apply to join the scheme, completely free of charge thanks to the grant funding. Although the support is best suited to high street businesses, Julie would encourage anyone who is looking for help to register. “The programme will be delivered through a combination of online content and one-to-one support. Each week there will be a different business ‘theme’, with a set of new ideas and a pre-planned call from a dedicated Success Manager. A business Health Check survey will be done as a first step, followed by an initial call to talk about any specific challenges or goals. The Jo platform is available 24/7 to provide total flexibility for when and how the ideas are reviewed. Any that are accepted will go into an Action Plan, which will be handed over at the end of the programme.” In addition to helping individual businesses with new ideas and signposting to the latest grants or other funding information, the programme will also encourage more local collaboration.
On launching the scheme, Chair of Polesworth Parish Council and Borough Councillor for Polesworth West, Cllr Simon Rose said “We are really pleased to be supporting this initiative, which is not only providing tangible support for our local businesses, but helps make sure our funds are spent within the parish.”
The first business to sign-up, complete the Health Check and have a ‘needs assessment call’ was Warton WM Club, which has been struggling recently due to the repeated lockdowns. Club Steward Karl Oliver was very complimentary, saying “The initial call with Fraser was great; he was really knowledgeable and gave some good ideas. I can see this being really beneficial for the Club and could help see new ideas being implemented. I really like the idea of collaborating with other businesses in the local parish area.”
Council funded programmes are being planned and implemented across the UK to help businesses during the current pandemic. Michael Weedon, Head of the High Street Advisory Board for SaveTheHighStreet.org agrees that local schemes are a great opportunity to make a big difference. “It has been interesting to see this project come to life and be implemented at such a local level. The ‘one good idea at a time’ approach can really help and now that we have broken the mould we expect to see more local champions coming forward to partner with Jo.”
Businesses in the Parish can sign up at the dedicated landing page www.savethehighstreet.org/polesworth-parish. Places are strictly limited and are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Anyone with an interest in finding out more about the opportunities for local business support can contact Julie on 01827 331801 or email Julie@splendidwork.co.uk.
Anyone interested in becoming a local champion can sign up for free at www.SaveTheHighStreet.org. Businesses that do not meet the criteria for the Polesworth programme can pay for their own subscription at www.JoinJo.com.
Splendid Work Limited offers contract and freelance business consultancy services, including business development, training, marketing and communications. Areas of specialism include independent retail, high street and local authority funded support. For any enquiries contact Julie@splendidwork.co.uk
SaveTheHighStreet.org is an industry movement on a mission to ensure diverse and successful high streets now and for the long term. For press enquiries contact Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org and for general enquires contact email@example.com
JoinJo.com is a digital assistant for local businesses. Jo levels the playing field for local business owners by providing high impact support that’s affordable for everyone. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.