When Selina Rudzik needed “an extra pair of eyes and ears” to help her recruitment company reach its full potential, she knew who to turn to.

As a mentor herself, Selina already knew the many advantages of joining the Let’s Do Mentoring programme at the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, but as she states, “Sometimes you reach a stage where you need a clearer focus, to see the woods from the trees. It’s admitting to yourself that this is the case and taking appropriate action. In this instance, the answer really was right in front of me.”

Selina has over a decade of management experience in the recruitment sector, and is the founder and owner of Recruitment Robin Ltd, a fixed fee recruitment and resourcing business supplying permanent and contract staff solutions to businesses in Staffordshire and beyond.

Selina’s extra eyes and ears came in the shape of mentor Sean Farrell, a successful business coach who boasts an impressive track record of helping companies throughout Staffordshire.

“When I first started on the mentoring road, I was looking for support with regards to having a clearer focus, but with particular help on sales and marketing,” she explains. “But after meeting Sean it became apparent that the focus would be very different. Basically, Sean gave me clarity. Clarity in how I thought about myself and my business. He helped me to virtually strip away everything that I shouldn’t be focussing on and helped to remind me that I’m really good at what I do, but also to cut out what I don’t need to be doing.”

Click on the following link to read the full case study of how Let’s Do Mentoring supported Selina: Recruitment Robin Case Study

Welcome to our new presidents

We are delighted to welcome our three new presidents! Each of them will be under 40 years of age when they take up office, a first in the Chambers’ history.

New Staffordshire Chambers president, Matt Hubbard, is well known to many, having joined the Chamber in 2004 as a recent graduate of Staffordshire University with a BA in Film Production. Matt and a group of fellow graduates set up film production company, Reels in Motion, and as the company grew, so did Matt’s confidence. He became chair of Future Finest in 2011 and deputy president of the Chamber in 2017.

By coincidence, the new presidents of Stafford and Staffordshire Moorlands Chambers are both architects. Carl Croft is returning for his second stint as president, whilst the youngest president of the trio, Natalie Hewitt, is relatively new to the Chamber, having only joined in 2016.

We asked each of the new presidents what their aims are in post:

Matt Hubbard, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce: “To continue the excellent work done to date in repositioning the Chamber and its value to members. To improve engagement so that members get real value. To ensure that the Chamber is the go-to business support body in what is a very challenging period.”

Natalie Hewitt, Staffordshire Moorlands: “To give smaller SME companies in the Moorlands a bigger voice. To make sure our support reaches all parts of the district including Uttoxeter which comes under our wing and to build the great work of my predecessor Suzanne Davy who has worked tirelessly to increase membership and engagement.”

Carl Croft, Stafford: “I would like to carry on the great work of my predecessor, Phil Osman, to see the Chambers’ grow and for the Staffordshire economy to be in the best possible shape. Specifically, Stafford Chamber will be representing the members on issues such as HS2 – to get the very best rail service and economic benefits, new and forthcoming developments including digital and other infrastructure as well as promotion of the future of our town centres.”

We hope you join us in welcoming Matt, Natalie and Carl and wishing them every success in post.

 

The Community Foundation meeting room is an excellent value and quality space, for hire to all. They can cater for anything from meetings to interviews to teambuilding. The room comes fully equipped with a projector, laptop, whiteboard, flip-chart and wi-fi. It comfortably seats 14, with a pleasant bright spacious outlook over Staffordshire Technology Park, with plenty of nearby parking. It also includes tea and coffee.

The Foundation Meeting Room is available for hire from Monday to Friday between the hours of 08:00 – 17:00. There is free parking available opposite the office on a hilltop car park as well as a number of spaces on the roundabout outside of the Foundation offices. You can find information on their booking rates below:

Morning session: 08:00-12:00: £25.00

Afternoon session: 13:00-17:00: £25.00

All day session: 08:00-17:00: £50.00

To make a booking, please visit their website and use the online calendar: https://staffsfoundation.org.uk/roomhire/

Round 3 of the EAFRD Growth Programme opened for expression of interest applications on 4th November 2019.

This funding opportunity is primarily aimed at developing rural businesses and partners delivering tourism Infrastructure projects and is the last opportunity to secure grant funding under the EAFRD programme.

To help promote the funding opportunity, gauge interest and identify potential eligible projects, a briefing event is being held on the morning of Monday 16th December at Rodbaston College near Penkridge, Staffordshire at 10.00 am until 12.00 noon. The event is aimed at rural businesses and partners interested in submitting an expression of interest application before the bidding window closes on 16th February 2020.

The event will start at 10.00am with tea/coffee on arrival and those attending will be able to find out the latest criteria and bidding timeline for the Fund, as well as get expert advice and guidance from DEFRA’s Growth Team.

This funding opportunity has been achieved through agreement with LEP areas to establish an EAFRD Growth Programme National Reserve Fund (NRF). The new call will focus on the three themes of Business Development, Food Processing and Rural Tourism Infrastructure, as was the case in the previous EAFRD calls. As this is a national call, all three themes will be available in all 36 LEP areas, that have had an EAFRD allocation, and therefore competition for funding is expected to be high.

Further details on the call can be found via:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rdpe-growth-programme

The total grant available under the call will be a minimum of £35 million and successful bids will need to demonstrate how they will boost the rural economy and create local jobs across rural areas. For this final funding round, the minimum value threshold for grants has come down from £35,000 to £20,000, meaning that more small or micro-businesses can be eligible for grant support. If there is a significant response to the call and the quality of applications is high, the overall budget for the fund could be increased to up to £50 million.

Attendance at the event is free of charge, but places are limited. To reserve your place please complete the EAFRD Growth Programme Briefing event 16th Dec 2019 Booking Form and return to chris.read@staffordshire.gov.uk by 9th December 2019.

 

intu Potteries is one of the first shopping centres in the UK to back the sunflower lanyard scheme to provide more help to visitors with hidden disabilities.

People with invisible conditions can collect and wear a lanyard from the popular destination’s customer service desks to signal that they may need more support during their visit.

It will act as a discreet sign to staff that the wearer could require help or a little extra time with things like finding their way around the centre or a store and getting access to a quiet space or close-by toilet facilities, due to conditions such as autism, dementia or diabetes.

Demand for the initiative has soared since it was first introduced by Gatwick Airport, with more than 10,000 sunflower lanyards collected from there following its launch three years ago.

intu has worked with Gatwick Airport to roll out the scheme at its popular shopping and leisure destinations across the UK and has also introduced a sunflower dog lead sleeve that will allow staff to easily recognise and support anyone bringing the animal into an intu centre.

It is one of a number of measures to create more accessible shopping and leisure experiences for intu Potteries’ visitors.

Free sensory backpacks, which contain several different items to help autistic children enjoy their shopping experience, are also available to hire from intu Potteries’ customer service desk from this month. Designed by parents of autistic children, the bags include ear defenders, egg timers, sunglasses, fidget toys and an autism friendly guide to the centre.

Rachael Jackson, general manager at intu Potteries, said: “We want to ensure that intu’s retail and leisure destinations are accessible and inclusive destinations for everyone. Nobody should feel excluded. The measures we are introducing will help every visitor feel welcome to enjoy a fantastic experience at intu Potteries.”

intu visitor Charley Ann said: “Having two children on the autistic spectrum and attempting shopping is difficult for many reasons. They may act in a way that seems strange to others, but the lanyard may help them understand why. It’s also great for staff members to identify that we may need extra assistance.”

intu Potteries also runs regular quiet hours the first Monday of each month between 4pm and 5pm and its staff are trained to support people with autism and dementia. The Entertainer runs a quiet hour every Saturday from 9am until 10am.

Keele University has this week launched its third Keele Deal, with a focus on working with local partners to address regional and national healthcare priorities.

Keele Deal | Health will build on the existing relationships that the University has with key public and private sector healthcare organisations across Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Cheshire and Wolverhampton.

This week’s launch event was the first of a number of engagement sessions that will see the University and its partners working together to shape the priorities of the new deal, and will ultimately enable focused and collaborative approaches and programmes to address some of the region’s most significant health challenges.

Partners from across the region were invited to a launch event at Keele’s Smart Innovation Hub, where the vision for the new deal was outlined.

Among the guests at the launch event was Sir David Behan, the Chairman of Health Education England, who praised the collaborative approach adopted by those involved in the deal.

Sir David said: “As I have been spending the last twelve months learning about health education and training, one of the names that keeps coming up is Keele.

“A big question is what will health and care look like in the next forty years, and I think what you are doing here is creating the workforce that will be needed for those next four decades. I wish that every university I went to was collaborating the way you are, and I want to pay tribute to the work you are all doing in coming together.”

Keele’s Chief Operating Officer Dr Mark Bacon said: “Our deals demonstrate our commitment to our civic role, and they are developed in partnership with those that we want to work with in order to achieve our shared vision.

“It’s a unique commitment by partners across the region to generate high value employment and academic growth by using Keele’s world-leading research and facilities to create jobs and support businesses to grow and thrive.”

Through the deal, a new community will be developed – Keele Health and Social Care Partners – which will seek to drive improvements in health and social care for regional populations, bringing additional social, cultural and economic advantages for individuals and the communities in which they live.

Speaking about the deal, Professor Pauline Walsh, Executive Dean for the University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, said: “Keele has a strong history of partnership working with our local NHS and care partners, delivering a wide-ranging and world-leading research, education and collaborative portfolio.

“Through the strength of our existing partnerships, we have developed one of the best Medical Schools in the country and have achieved fantastic rankings for our health education courses – recently being ranked in the Top 10 in The Guardian 2019 league table for our medicine, allied health professionals and nursing and midwifery provisions.

“The fundamental principle behind the deal is that we can achieve more in partnership – using our collective strength to access new opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of our populations.”

Keele Deal | Health builds on Keele University’s existing impact on both the healthcare sector and local economy, examples of which include:

– 76% of Keele-trained nurses remaining locally, with 43% of all health-related graduates staying within the Keele Deal | Health impact area

– Keele-led research bringing approximately £12m per annum to the local health economy

– Keele University Science and Innovation Park hosting nine life sciences companies, employing around 360 people in total. Independent assessment shows that the average gross value added (GVA) per worker in MedTech in the West Midlands is £65,000, therefore estimating that these Keele-based companies generated more than £23m GVA in the last year.

– The University-led Healthcare Business Network has connected more than 150 local SMEs who are in the healthcare sector and/or its associated supply chains, enabling more local collaborative working.

Professor Walsh added: “Despite our progress and achievements to date, we believe that there are opportunities to develop further through our partnerships, and that is why we have launched Keele Deal | Health – a public statement of our recommitment to furthering our impact on local health and care issues.

“Our proposal for Keele Deal | Health will see the University working with local partners to address three priority areas: workforce development; collaborative research and innovation; and driving quality care through evidence-based service transformation.

“We are looking forward to engaging with our partners in the coming months and years to deliver on our ambitious shared priorities in order to ensure that we collectively improve and innovate the health and care of the future for our local communities and beyond.”

Keele Deals:

Keele Deals are established through collaboration and negotiation with local civic partners, businesses and other industry and sector organisations. The first such agreement – the New Keele Deal – was launched in January 2017 and set out ambitious plans to support local economic growth across Staffordshire through projects designed to stimulate business innovation, leadership development, smart energy and health innovation.

The second commitment – Keele Deal | Culture – was announced in January 2019 and aims to boost the creative economy by enabling more resources for cultural and creative industries, strengthening local cultural institutions, creating the right environment for creative industries to flourish, and to ensure that public arts can be enjoyed by more local people.

 

 

Synectics Solutions has partnered with the digital identity platform Yoti to leverage advanced identity verification technology and enhance customer onboarding for its clients. The partnership will help tackle identity fraud and prevent bad actors from accessing and using financial services to commit serious crimes.

Synectics will utilise Yoti Doc Scan to digitally transform the customer experience – offering individuals a simple, private and secure way of proving their identity for KYC when applying for financial services.

The innovative move will provide Synectics’ clients with the ability to:

  • Verify the identity of end-customers to a high level of assurance in the UK or over 175 nationalities using government-approved documents including passports, driving licenses, and national ID cards.
  • Allow consumers to prove who they are remotely and securely, globally.
  • Streamline the approach to customer onboarding and customer due diligence.
  • Reduce user journey friction and deliver products and services faster than before.
  • Enhance regulatory compliance through a best-in-class technology solution.

As new digital technologies disrupt markets, complex organizations need to move from traditional information management approaches to modern solutions if they want to remain secure and competitive.

For over 27 years Synectics Solutions has been at the forefront of developing leading-edge, data driven solutions for its clients, to help them create effective risk management systems and reduce their losses to fraud and other financial crime. Synectics’ clients have saved over £4.8 billion collectively through the use of these market leading link analysis, fraud prevention and predictive analysis solutions – National SIRA, Orion and Precision.

Yoti provides global coverage for businesses through being able to authenticate government-issued ID documents from 175 countries. It uses cutting edge AI to determine that a person is real, through a fast and simple liveness test, and that they are the person who they claim to be through matching their face to the presented ID document. This can offer significant benefits to many regulated firms who still require customers to present certified paper copy proof of identity documents over the counter.

Russell Mackintosh, Head of Partnerships at Synectics Solutions said: “We’re delighted to announce this partnership with Yoti as it further demonstrates our recognition that improving methods of authenticating and identifying genuine customers lies at the heart of addressing issues of fraud and financial crime for our clients.

“As a company we’re committed to continually investing in the services we offer and Yoti’s Doc Scan provides access to the leading edge ID&V technology to help our clients improve their ability to authenticate genuine customers faster and more effectively.”

Gareth Narinesingh, Commercial Director – Financial Services at Yoti said: “Our partnership with Synectics Solutions is a key proposition for UK regulated financial services. Verified identities delivered through our Yoti Doc Scan platform compliments best-in-class data services provided by Synectics Solutions. Financial services clients can now look to an end-to-end solution for onboarding new customers or remediating existing customer files, through a comprehensive digital journey. This will lead to better and quicker customer outcomes for good actors, whilst employing much tighter controls around keeping out bad actors. This will be good news for both compliance officers and heads of retail in customer-facing businesses.”

For more information go to www.yoti.com or visit the app store on iOS and Android phones.

 

PM Training has been shortlisted in the UK Social Enterprise Awards, recognising it as one of the leading social enterprises in the country.

The apprenticeship provider, based in Stoke-on-Trent, is a finalist in the Education, Training and Jobs category of the national awards.

Since 1982, PM Training has supported over 25,000 individuals and more than 1,600 partner organisations and remains the largest provider of apprenticeships for young people in Staffordshire.

Will Nixon, Managing Director of PM Training, said: “Giving back to the community is at the core of our values at PM Training, and it’s fantastic to be recognised for the work we do in this area.

“We support 2,500 people through training every year and, with the launch of our new ‘People First’ philosophy, we look forward to supporting more people through skills development, education and apprenticeships as we continue to work closely with young people and businesses in our communities.”

The awards shortlist is the latest recognition for the investment that PM Training is making in North Staffordshire communities. As part of we are aspire, which also comprises Aspire Housing and Realise charity, the business was granted the Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2017 for promoting opportunity, and has built upon its social investment since then.

Social enterprises are businesses which trade for a social or environmental purpose. There are 100,000 social enterprises in the UK contributing £60bn to the UK economy, each one being set up to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face from homelessness to climate change.

The UK Social Enterprise Awards run by Social Enterprise UK, the national membership body for social enterprises, recognise the nation’s most pioneering social enterprises. PM Training will be joining other shortlisted organisations at the prestigious awards ceremony held at London’s iconic Guildhall on Wednesday 4th December 2019.

Commenting on the awards, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK, Peter Holbrook, said: “Every year the standards of applications for the UK Social Enterprise Awards gets higher and higher. At a time when public confidence in business is at a low and when we are facing crises both political and environmental – this year’s shortlist shows how business can be used to build a better world.”

A film production company named among the best in Britain is celebrating 15 years in business and forecasting major future growth.

Reels in Motion is flying the flag for Stoke-on-Trent and competing with big city film studios in London and the South East. Its five year plan aims to more than double their staff and achieve a £5 million-plus turnover by Reels in Motion’s 20th anniversary.

Founded by Matt Hubbard, Phil Bland and Joe Gordon in 2004, Reels in Motion is the only Staffordshire-based business to get recognised in the prestigious Top 50 Production Companies, compiled by Televisual Magazine.

From small beginnings, the company has forged a reputation for creative corporate film making, working with household names including JLR, Michelin, Alton Towers and the British Chambers of Commerce.

The trio of former Staffordshire University film students have built a talented 8-strong team and invested heavily in state-of-the-art studios.

They moved to the Production House, Tunstall, in 2017, having invested more than £250,000 to transform the old Ryan Hall workingmen’s club into new offices and a production centre complete with recording booth, green room, video studio, editing suite and nine-seat mini cinema.

Matt said: “We have come a long way since graduating from Staffordshire University at which point we took a small office in the University’s business hub off Leek Road, Stoke.

“We dared to think big and it was always our aim to bring big city production values to film making in Stoke-on-Trent. The Production House is perhaps our biggest achievement as it has enabled high quality films to be made in studios in the heart of the Potteries.

“Staffordshire has long been known as the creative county and we’re proud to be playing our part in continuing that creativity in our own artistic field.

“We see the Production House as a statement of intent for our city and Stoke Studios is a fantastic facility that we want other film makers and photographers to take advantage of. Staffordshire University produces many talented film makers and we are flying the flag for that and providing facilities of a quality that means up-and-coming producers no longer need to travel to bigger cities to pursue their craft.”

Matt said that gaining recognition as a Top 50 Production Company was a trigger for further growth.

Reels in Motion were also part of the highly acclaimed Goldman Sachs 10,000 Business Program.

“The Goldman Sachs programme made us think and behave like a big production house. It helped us set out our growth strategy. We want to be the place for developing talent and have some of the country’s best here in Stoke on Trent. Our aim is to grow the team to 25 with a turnover in excess of £5 million in 5 years time and continue to be recognised for our standard of work and client satisfaction.”

Michelin Development are proud to have been instrumental in supporting a number of North Staffordshire businesses to invest and expand their operations.

Thanks to funding received, JPR Solutions (UK) Limited were able to not only benefit from ongoing business support, but have also been able to invest in infrastructure and to take on a significant number of additional staff which is a fantastic achievement for the team as they continue to grow within their chosen business sector.

Another success story is Patera Engineering who have been able to expand their business after receiving assistance from the fund. The business has benefited from two loans which has helped the team to move into larger premises, invest in high technology equipment and develop advanced Building Information Modelling (BIM). The team have also been able to make the leap into top specification projects both nationally and internationally.

Bartec Engineering Services who specialise in mechanical and electrical installation have used their loan to move into new premises. This has given the business the resource to secure larger and more prestigious contracts. The team are pleased to have been able to win impressive new sub-contractor projects that have included water recovery and treatment projects for Heathrow Airport Ltd, Thames Water, Southern Water and Severn Trent Water which helps to secure the future of the business.

Staffordshire Moorlands based Moorland Contract Cleaning have been able to move into new markets following a £50,000 cash injection from the fund. This significant sum will be used to launch a new division, providing janitorial supplies that feature greener formulations and sustainable packaging. Over the next three years, the business is forecasting turnover to double and more than 10 full time positions to be created as a result of the expansion.

Mike Cole from Michelin Development commented, “2019 has been another challenging year for businesses across the country but it is important for SMEs in North Staffordshire to know that Michelin Development continues to be there to support their growth and we look forward to hearing from more companies in 2020 both new and old with exciting plans to grow and create jobs.”

If you are inspired by these success stories and interested in finding out more about how a loan from Michelin Development could help your business to grow, visit https://michelindevelopment.co.uk/#who-can-apply