A Staffordshire window company has raised £1,665 for a children’s hospice after staff completed a gruelling Three Peaks Challenge.

Office Manager Nicola Green and Commercial Supervisor Sam Plant from Target Windows, based in Stoke-on-Trent, climbed the highest peaks of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in 24 hours for The Donna Louise Children’s Hospice on Friday, June 21.

Director Guy Basnett, who climbed Ben Nevis with Nicola and Sam, said: “We have recently completed a large installation at The Donna Louise and we were asked by one of the trustees to take part in the Three Peaks Challenge!

“After seeing the great work they do and how much help they need, we thought it was a worthy cause to get behind. We smashed our £500 target and we’d like to thank everyone who has supported us in raising money for this amazing local charity.”

Along with the company’s #GiveWithTarget Christmas campaign and other fundraising throughout the last year, Target Windows has raised over £2,965 for the charity.

Target Windows has showrooms in Stone and Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. The family-run business celebrated its 35th anniversary last year.

For more information visit www.targetwindows.co.uk or call 01782 398021.

Businesses across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire are being urged to help shape the area’s new industrial strategy at one of a series of free workshops in the coming weeks.

Each local enterprise partnership area has been asked by the Government to form its own industrial strategy which reflects on their own identities, strengths and needs.

They will set out clearly defined priorities for how cities, towns and rural areas will maximise their contribution to UK productivity.

In March 2019, the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SSLEP) began work on its local industrial strategy. It will aim to support companies like to grow, develop and innovate and help benefit the economy of the area. The strategy will also set out how the LEP will invest its resources to make this happen.

Each session will focus on one of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s key industry sectors. The first sessions take place next Thursday June 27 and Friday June 28.

They will take place on the following dates and at these locations:

  • Thursday June 27, 10am to 12.30pm, for the logistics sector, Tamworth Enterprise Centre, Philip Dix House, Corporation Street, B79 7DN
  • Thursday June 27, 1.30pm to 4pm, for the aero-auto sector, Pirelli Stadium, Princess Way, Burton-on-Trent, DE13 0AR
  • Friday June 28, 10am to 12.30pm, for the med-tech sector, Newcastle College, Knutton Lane, ST5 2GB
  • Friday June 28, 1.30pm to 4pm, for the digital sector, Stafford College, Earl Street, ST16 2QR
  • Thursday July 11, 10am to 12.30am, for professional and business services, Staffordshire University (TBC), Leek Road, Stoke on Trent, ST4 2DF
  • Thursday July 11, 2pm to 4pm for the advanced materials sector, Leek College Campus, Stockwell Street, Leek, ST13 6DP
  • Friday July 12, 10am to 12.30pm, for the rural and agri-food sector, Rodbaston Campus, Penkridge, ST19 5PH
  • Friday July 12, 1.30pm to 4pm, for the energy sector, Yarnfield Park, Yarnfield, Stone, ST15 0NL
  • Friday 26th July, 10am to 12pm, for Training Providers
  • Friday 26th July, 1pm to 3pm, for VCSE Sector

To reserve a place people should contact Sam Hicks at SSLEP on 01785 895192 or email samantha.hicks@staffordshire.gov.uk

Anyone who would like to get involved but is unable to attend a session can get in touch and the LEP team will arrange an alternative.

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP deputy chairman Alun Rogers said: “Development of our local industrial strategy is vital as it will steer our work as a LEP and ensure we can give the right support to our businesses.

“We cannot put it together successfully without the input of local businesses so they can be as productive as possible and our economy remains strong as we move forward.

“We also want to demonstrate to Government that as an area we will continue to play a key part in UK economic growth. I’d urge businesses to come on board and have their say.”

Sessions will be facilitated by Metro Dynamics, experts in developing strategies for places. They will provide a short summary of the key economic and business trends in the area and then support discussion sessions about the opportunities for growth and what support would best help businesses to achieve their potential.

There will be refreshments and an opportunity for networking.

A Staffordshire-based chartered surveyors’ practice is expanding following a £35,000 cash injection from Michelin Development.

Stoke-on-Trent-based Mounsey Chartered Surveyors has already taken on three new employees, with further job creation expected over the next five years.

The Festival Park company specialises in commercial property services, including acquisition and disposal, valuation, lease and rent renewal and property management. It also carries out residential surveys and valuations.

Richard Mounsey, MRICS, founded Mounsey Chartered Surveyors in 2010 and the company mainly operates within the M6 Junction 14 to 16 corridor.

The company applied to Michelin Development to support ambitious growth plans. Michelin Development offers subsidised, unsecured loans of up to £50,000, for projects with the potential to create quality, sustainable jobs.

Mr Mounsey said: “When we took on the loan we employed seven people, but that has increased now to 10 in the last couple of months.

“We are having a good year, but it is forecasting that can be difficult. The support from Michelin Development has provided a safety net and comfort that we can utilise. Ultimately, it has enabled us to be confident and ambitious.

“The actual application process has also been very useful, as it helped us to review and look where we are going as a business.”

Mr Mounsey, who lives in Cheddleton in the Staffordshire Moorlands, attended Berry Hill High School and then went on to study Valuation Surveying at Staffordshire University.

He worked previously at a surveyors’ practice in Birmingham, before moving back to work in Stoke-on-Trent before setting up his business.

Mr Mounsey said that extensive local knowledge and market intelligence allowed the team to provide a tailored approach for each client.

Richard added: “Being in North Staffordshire is a great place for us, as we are gaining a reputation for being experts in this local area.

“We’ve got a great team here, who are mainly local, and a really good working environment.

“Our aim now is to double in size over the next five years, which will mean at least another four staff in the business.”

Mike Cole, head of Michelin Development, is keen to hear from other North Staffordshire businesses looking to gear up for the next stage of growth.

Mr Cole said: “Mounsey Chartered Surveyors is an example of a growing Stoke-on-Trent business, creating new jobs and underpinning the growth of the regional economy.

“Our message to other small businesses in a similar position is not to miss out.

“We have the funds in place, but we do need to receive applications to deliver this support and investment in our community.

“The companies we can help know their markets and figures. They just need a little extra support to move along on that growth journey, and that is where we can step in to help.”

To find out more visit www.michelindevelopment.co.uk

SMEs across North Staffordshire have the opportunity to access financial support, business expertise and advice thanks to the Michelin Development Fund.

A Michelin Development loan can be used for a whole range of products which are linked to the creation of jobs. This could include purchase of capital equipment, process improvement, working capital and marketing – to name but a few. Successful applicants can apply for unsecured loans from £5,000 through Michelin’s associate bank at a subsidised interest rate.

Who can apply?

Businesses in the manufacturing, engineering or services sector (business to business).

Businesses that can use the funding to support the creation of jobs.

To find out if your business would be eligible for the loan, please call 0800 056 2007 or visit https://michelindevelopment.co.uk/

 

Horizons Coaching have recently been contracted to work with Steelite International to offer training with a real difference.

Louise Griffin, HR Group Director at Steelite International had explored the courses that Helen offered and sat down with production managers, to recognise the importance of getting their buy-in to training that was going to be ‘out of the norm’ from the outset. The Positive Vibes training was chosen and was a natural fit with the company.

Louise said, “I wanted to provide our people managers with the opportunity to explore their own communication style and to recognise their own levels of emotional intelligence and resilience, understanding that it really isn’t a black art, just an identification of recognising our own identity and how this works in our personal and professional life.

“Running the Positive Vibes workshop was a real eye-opener for many attendees, something very different than the ‘normal’ classroom training environment, Helen really took people outside of their comfort zones, pushing the boundaries. I would say that vast majority of people who attended the workshop took away something new, recognising traits in themselves and others, and learning more about how, as humans, our actions and reactions directly affects our resilience and communication style. In fact, I was surprised at how many people positively reacted to the workshop and still today talk about the benefits it has had in the way they communicate with their people.”

One of the attendees at the Positive Vibes workshops was Martin Youds, UK & Ireland Regional Sales Director. He decided to have Helen run the same workshop for all his sales staff and afterwards said:

“Quite often high performance teams focus on what needs to be achieved; sales targets; new product introductions; pricing negotiations; tenders etc. All too often little attention is paid to the mental health and wellbeing of the team. During stressful and uncertain times the benefits of re-focussing on your own wellbeing can take a back seat to all other business priorities. That’s where Helen stepped in to help us evaluate how we respond to these situations, and the importance of the individual.

Helen delivered a “Positive Vibes” workshop to my sales team as the last session of a jam packed day. The team really enjoyed exploring their communication styles in a fun way and Helen’s interaction with the team put them at ease immediately. The relaxation techniques were a revelation and everyone found the session of real benefit. Delivered with illustrative stories and interactive sessions I am certain the Positive Vibes session helped many in the team sense check their stress levels, and realise the value in “taking some time for yourself” during their very busy lives”

Helen Dos Santos at Horizons Coaching said; “in our busy lives today, going at a 100 miles an hour and being switched on 24/7 to our mobile devices, it is important that people have coping strategies and a positive mindset to help them through times when the going gets tough, whether that be at home or at work.

“It has been an amazing experience to work with such dedicated and passionate staff at Steelite International. Seeing the staffs’ realisation of how our language and communication can affect us, not just when we talk to each other, but also when we talk to ourselves. Being able to manage or to switch off that negative voice in our heads can have an empowering, lasting and powerful impact on our lives.”

For further information about supporting the mental and emotional resilience of your workforce, contact Helen Dos Santos at Horizons Coaching on 07730 920010 or helen@horizonscoaching.co.uk

BusinessLodge, Staffordshire’s newest flexible office space provider, is offering a unique opportunity to Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce Members to take a FREE stand at an exclusive Business Fair, held in the newly refurbished Trent House.

The market-leading flex space provider has expanded into Staffordshire with the development of contemporary serviced offices, virtual offices, meeting rooms and conference facilities at Trent House, Victoria Road, formerly the Npower building.

The Business Fair is part of a prestigious opening event at Trent House to be held on Wednesday 10th July at 4pm until 7pm.

40 Staffordshire businesses will be exhibiting at the fair with many more delegates attending the event, including VIPs, the media and senior members of the local business community.

BusinessLodge is offering 20 FREE spaces exclusively to Chamber of Commerce members on a first come first served basis. It will be an opportunity for local businesses to take a stand and promote their services and network with valuable contacts. The event with be supported with marketing activity including PR and social media.

Kate Holt, Managing Director of Business Lodge said:

“BusinessLodge is hugely successful in Lancashire and we want to celebrate our expansion in to Staffordshire. We’ve already been made to feel extremely welcome by the local business community and this free event, as part of our wider open day is our opportunity to showcase our new building and say thank you.”

The limited places are expected to be quickly filled and so to secure your slot, please call Kate Holt at kate@businesslodge.co.uk or please call on 01782 390100.

 

 

Plans have been submitted for a new 120-bedroom hotel in the centre of Stafford.

The proposal for an Ibis Styles hotel comes on the back of huge investment in Stafford in recent times – like the six million pound Odeon Cinema, major retail premises including Primark, B&M and Aldi, alongside new restaurants such as Nandos and Verso.

The hotel is earmarked for vacant premises on Hunter’s Row at the north of the town centre. The proposals are now being examined by planners and people will be able to comment on the application before a decision is made.

The plans for the hotel can be viewed at www.staffordbc.gov.uk/planning-public-access

Head of Development at Stafford Borough Council, Karen Tierney, said the move was further evidence in the confidence investors had in the county town. Over the last couple of months around half a dozen independent businesses have opened in Stafford and latest figures revealed footfall in the town centre was up on last year – with a higher increase than the national High Street average.

Part of the planning application to the Borough Council states the hotel would provide local jobs, help improve the night-time economy and increase tourism. It says the application ‘makes beneficial use of largely redundant retail space. Redeveloping existing buildings that have outlasted their previous use.’

Karen Tierney said: “There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes selling the opportunities our borough offers to major businesses – not only in this country but around the world.

“The feedback we get from investors is that the borough is an attractive place to invest, our council and partners help make it easy for businesses to locate or relocate to the area, our connectivity to the rest of the country is good, and they can see the substantial growth already taking place.”

The authority has already put forward an ambitious masterplan to develop land around Stafford Station. And earlier this year the Borough Council was one of only five authorities to have been awarded £750,000 to develop plans for a garden community near Cold Meece in the north of the borough which could provide around 10,000 homes, schools, medical facilities and include a new west coast mainline station as part of a sustainable development.

Local business, Pawprint Badges, have been crowned People’s Choice winner for the Midlands at The National Family Business of the Year Awards 2019.

Pawprint Badges, a first-generation family-run business, came out on top in an online public vote against 13 other finalists in the category, which included long-standing family businesses with over 30 years’ experience.

Picking up the coveted award at a glitzy awards ceremony at The May Fair Hotel, London, last Thursday (6th June), Charlotte Russell, Director of Pawprint Badges, said: We are over the moon to have bagged an award! Having only been going for 3 years we didn’t think we were in with a chance at all but to have been voted for by our customers and followers, is humbling.”

“We aim to help others and provide a quality service that we would like to receive. Winning this award makes you realise that someone, somewhere (or rather lots of people) appreciate what we do and that makes it all worthwhile!”

Pawprint Badges create free activity packs and resources to support leaders, teachers and parents. The packs are accompanied by collectible, embroidered badges which sell for £1.25-£2.00.

The Lichfield based company also donates a percentage of profits in to The Pawprint Trust; providing grants to young members of The Scout Association and Girlguiding nationally, along with fundraising for other charities through the sale of their badges. Founded in 2016 by Charlotte and her husband Jamie, both Guide and Scout leaders respectively, they have grown Pawprint Badges year on year and given more than £3000 in grants to young members of their organisations.

Charlotte added: We are committed to upholding our promises made within Scouts and Girlguiding. We promise to do our best and help other people but, on this occasion, it is others that have helped us. We would like to thank everyone who voted for us, along with our family, who have supported and championed us tirelessly over the last 3 years, it really means the world to us.”

The People’s Choice Awards are organised by Family Business United, the award-winning magazine and resource centre that champions and celebrates the family business sector. Now in their seventh year, the awards recognise the diversity, strength and depth of family firms across the UK and seek to highlight the contribution that family firms make to the UK economy.

As Paul Andrews, Founder and Managing Director of Family Business United explains, “We created these awards to celebrate the enormous contribution that family businesses make across the UK. Winning one of the People’s Choice awards is truly special as it reflects the view of the public and is determined solely by an online vote. It is always great to receive recognition for your endeavours too. Family firms are the engine room of the UK economy and deserve all the recognition that they can get.”

A North Staffordshire based business coach is on a mission to create 1,000 jobs in the next five-years by helping companies to grow.

Former international sales and marketing director Doug Flynn is using his vast experience both on the corporate world and as a business owner to support business growth. Doug has joined the international ActionCoach network, returning to North Staffordshire and his home in Tittensor after a life of globe-trotting.

He said: “I have worked all over the world for multinationals and I’m now applying my 30-plus years of experience to help smaller businesses to grow. I offer different programmes from 90 day planning for the smaller businesses, group coaching events and full on executive 1:1 coaching for larger businesses with Teams.

“It’s really about transformational coaching, your business will not grow unless you do. Coaching is a process of learning but above all accountability, which business owners don’t have. The result is they shy away from key tasks of planning running KPIs testing and measuring, lead generation… the list goes on. Most business owners spend all their time working in the business not on the business.

“My aim is to help business owners to grow, create more profit and improve the work life balance. Ultimately, we are looking to build a commercial profitable enterprise that can operate without you in it. Going on to create wealth and financial freedom.”

Among current clients is BPA Safety of Stoke. Owners Darren Bedson and Vicky Milward have achieved a significant upturn in business having initially attended a business growth workshop, organised by Doug. BPA are a successful business, but progress had stalled a little due to loss of experienced staff. Now, the Leek Road based company has begun to grow again and plans to more than double its team to up to 12 staff.

“We were at a crossroads and had considered continuing running the business with a small core team,” said Vicky, “but Doug’s talk sparked a lightbulb moment as we realised that we didn’t have a long-term strategy and were constantly reacting to the latest sales trends. 

BPA now engage in bi-weekly one to one coaching. Strategies are defined along with action plans which are in turn implemented and then monitored for the impact. As a result, we are now seeing over-proportional growth in both sales and profitability.”

Darren said: “We have Key Performance Indicators and incentives and it is the focus of the Directors to work on the business rather than in the business. Doug ensures we are accountable for our actions and for our business plan. The first focus was on staff retention and we decided to move forward with new appointments and to refine our recruitment and interview process. This has led to the recruitment of one new full-time safety consultant, one part time consultant and we are now advertising for another full-time post. We’ve also implemented new business systems in our office and brought in a new administrator and this has helped free up Vicky to work more strategically.”

Further outcomes include weekly staff meetings and Vicky and Darren attend the Action Coach 90-Day Business Planning Growth Club, where they meet with a range of companies which Doug also coaches.

Vicky commented: “I had always felt an aversion to business coaching and assumed it wasn’t for me, but I’m now a total convert. We have a plan and we feel empowered to push forward with it.

“We started this process with four in the BPA team and are now advertising for our seventh and we have a clear vision to have a team of 10 to 12 in the business providing bespoke advice to our extended range of customers.” 

 

A regional partnership led by Keele University has been awarded £750,000 from the Office for Students (OfS) to develop an integrated community approach to mental health and wellbeing for students in further and higher education, in collaboration with Staffordshire University, as part of a £2.2 million project.

The universities will be working in partnership with local colleges and authorities, police and NHS providers, to effectively support students’ transition into, through and out of higher education, especially those with circumstances that may contribute to them being more vulnerable to mental health issues. It is hoped this will lead to new and innovative approaches that can be applied nationally in order to positively impact on student mental health, and as such a toolkit will be produced and shared across the further and higher education sectors.

Keele University’s community approach to mental healthcare is one of only ten projects to be awarded funding by the OfS, an independent public body sponsored by the Department for Education. The OfS funding will be supplemented by match funding from Keele and Staffordshire, together with financial support from all partners, with the project totalling £2.2million in total.

The funding is part of OfS’ major new programme to find innovative ways to combat a sharp rise in student mental health issues and spark a step-change in student support across the country. Key priorities for the project include a connected training framework, interventions for at-risk groups, a regional mental health campaign, and new multi-agency approaches to student support. The universities will introduce new activities and opportunities for engagement for both on- and off-campus students, increasing social cohesion and the opportunity for early intervention, and reducing the risk of isolation.

Through partnership working with the NHS, Keele and Staffordshire University will develop new and innovative approaches to assessing and referring students, allowing a more streamlined and sensitive approach to supporting students effectively in both emergency and planned situations. Both universities are already engaged with the Stoke-on-Trent Suicide Prevention Partnership and will develop a regional student-focused Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

Keele University Vice-Chancellor Professor Trevor McMillan said: “Student mental health is a strong institutional priority for us at Keele, and a frequent topic on the agenda of both the executive team and the University Council as we develop a new institutional strategic plan, in which health and wellbeing is a key strand. It is extremely exciting for Keele to be leading this project with the support of the OfS and to be working in partnership with a regional network of university, college and NHS partners. We believe this project could have a transformative effect on the wellbeing and success of our own students and those of our locality and beyond.”

Staffordshire University Vice-Chancellor Professor Liz Barnes said: “Supporting the mental wellbeing of our students, many of whom come from the local area and are important parts of local communities, is fundamental to ensuring they are successful in their studies and take advantage of the many opportunities that come with a university education. This successful bid follows on from the Student Minds Mental Health Charter event we held in March and will see us, together with Keele University and our wider partners, take a nationally-leading role in what is one of the most important issues for students and many others.”

The project will be working with regional partners including Stoke-on-Trent City Council; Staffordshire County Council; Staffordshire Police; North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust; Midlands Partnership Foundation NHS Trust; University Hospitals of North Midlands Foundation Trust; Stoke-on-Trent College; Stoke Sixth Form College; Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group, and Sport Across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.