Dains has welcomed four new employees to the business which continues to strengthen its arm across the Midlands.

The new recruits have joined the Lichfield, Derby and Stoke offices this summer despite the uncertain economic climate.

Sue Wilkinson and Vongai Mabeza have joined the Lichfield Office Payroll team as Payroll Technicians, Constance Higginson has been recruited to the Derby Office as Corporate Finance Executive in the Corporate Finance Team and Katie Goodwin is now Team PA at the Stoke office.

Sue has over 30 years of payroll experience and has worked for large multi-national firms and UK companies.

Vongai also has a wide variety of payroll expertise, including payroll processing and experience of working with Employment Tax teams to check their payroll records are accurate as part of business improvement programmes.

Meanwhile Constance has previous accountancy and Corporate Finance experience after joining Dains from Grant Thronton where she was an Assistant Manager.

Katie has over 9 years of administration experience and has also worked in a Business Support role, which will be key in supporting the Stoke audit team.

All the staff have settled into the business and are looking forward to their new roles.

Katie said: “I’m really excited to be a part of Dains and working with the Audit team. I’m looking forward to the role and getting to know staff across the business.”

Angela Millward, Head of HR at Dains said: “We’d like to welcome all four employees to the business.

“Although they have joined us during these unprecedented times in the UK, they have settled in well and we are delighted they are now part of the Dains team.”

We are delighted to be partnering with insight6 to announce a new Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce exclusive membership offer that will help businesses to reopen their businesses safely.

Insight6 have developed a business tool that enables all businesses, regardless of size or sector, to regularly engage with their teams to get feedback on how safe they feel at work. The Team Safety and Customer Confidence Portal enables staff members and customers to anonymously raise concerns regarding safety to allow a fast response from management. This immediate response will help to resolve safety concerns and ensure that colleagues feel comfortable returning to the workplace.

Sara Williams, Chief Executive of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “Creating a safe place to work for colleagues and a safe place to visit for customers/clients, will be essential to business recovery.”

Ian Kelsall, insight6 Customer Experience Director said: “We believe that the feeling of safety will be unique and different to each colleague who is seeking confidence that their workplace is indeed a safe place to work. Each customer/client, will also decide if they think your business is a safe place to shop/visit, not the business itself, and regardless of how many signs you have on display or how much hazard tape is on the floor, it is the feeling of safety that will determine if you keep them as customers or lose them to your competition.”

The insight6 business tool, Team Safety and Client Confidence Portal is available exclusively to Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce Members for a one off payment of £140+VAT, for a 3 month system licence.

To register your interest click on the link below.

Team Safety and Customer Confidence Portal

The New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme is set to begin work this week to transform its auditorium, as it embarks on its biggest redevelopment project since the theatre was built 34 years ago.

In these difficult times the theatre is taking a positive step forward to invest for the future.  The fundraising target for the project has now been reached, with funds restricted to this important work that will support the future resilience of the organisation.

An artist’s impression of the newly refurbished auditorium has been released today to give an indication to audiences of what the theatre will look like following the work – including brand new deep purple seats, with wooden trim. The refurbishment works will see the theatre replace all of its 597 seats with ergonomically designed seating and a number of two person seats in certain spaces; redesign its balcony area to increase comfort and improve the audience experience; install handholds to the end of aisles and increase the number of spaces available to wheelchair users. The theatre will also install a brand new stage and improve aisle lighting to help audience members access their seats with ease. Works also include upgrading the theatre’s customer toilets.

The redevelopment project sees an investment of over £750,000 into the theatre following major support from Arts Council England. The Stoke-on-Trent based Denise Coates Foundation has also made a significant donation towards the works, having supported previous redevelopment projects at the theatre alongside contributing significant funds to the theatre’s Borderlines community programme over a number of years, to support ongoing work with disadvantaged and vulnerable young people.

The New Vic is currently closed in line with government guidelines but once able to reopen the refurbished auditorium will be used to stage New Vic shows as well as playing host to the theatre’s extensive education and community programmes.

Fiona Wallace, New Vic Managing Director, said: “34 years after the New Vic opened, and after welcoming over three million theatregoers, our unique in-the-round auditorium was in urgent need of major investment. This vital work will transform the space, bringing the New Vic up to modern standards, improving the comfort and experience for our audiences and ensuring we continue to be at the heart of our community for generations of theatregoers to come. We’re pleased that we’re able to start this project on time, and grateful to our contractors for working with us to ensure we can undertake the work in line with all current safety regulations surrounding Covid-19. We look forward to being able to share the finished auditorium with audiences as soon as we’re able to. This investment will support the theatre for the future, as we aim to be in the strongest position we can be when we come out of this current crisis.”

Local people can support the New Vic’s work by donating to the theatre, through their website at newvictheatre.org.uk or by calling the Box Office on 01782 717962.

For more information on the redevelopment project and to keep up-to-date with all the news from the New Vic, visit newvictheatre.org.uk

The outbreak of coronavirus has hastened the use of technology to diagnose and treat healthcare issues remotely. Patients across the country are now becoming accustomed to relying on remote healthcare services such as NHS 111, virtual GP appointments, and online deliveries.

5G technology will be key in providing the infrastructure required to deliver remote health services over the next decade. By design, 5G’s ability to deliver real-time information (low latency), ultra-fast speeds (critical for high definition images and video), increased capacity and heightened security are going to be fundamental in scaling the patient benefits of remote healthcare and keeping medical records secure and private.  The West Midlands 5g testbed has already showcased examples of 5G technology in healthcare, such as the use of live video streaming to provide specialist advice to ambulance paramedics.

Furthermore, health sector expert and former MP, David Kidney who has recently been appointed to head up the development of a new West Midlands Health Tech Cluster has indicated the importance of Digital health technologies as essential tools in the ongoing response to the global COVID-19 pandemic: “Artificial Intelligence (AI), big data, 5G and robotics can provide valuable and innovative solutions for patient treatment, frontline protection, risk reduction, communications and improved quality of living under lockdown as the world continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Currently the Chief Executive of the UK Public Health Register, David has been appointed to lead the development of a Health Technologies Cluster Organisation, which will support the creation of the brand-new cluster.  His responsibilities will include establishing the requirements of the nascent West Midlands Health Technologies Cluster, engaging with life science and associated business bases to raise awareness of the plans for the Cluster and securing commitment from prospective members and stakeholders.

For further information about the West Midlands Health Technologies Cluster, please contact Ravi Kumar.

Michelin staff have produced thousands of protective face masks to help keep colleagues, customers and the community safe in the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tyre manufacturer set up a temporary manufacturing centre at the Michelin Athletic Club, close to its factory and office in Stoke-on-Trent.

Volunteers and furloughed staff produced the masks to protect factory, sales and logistics employees – as well as tyre technicians, who have been keeping vital services such as ambulance and truck fleets on the road throughout the crisis.

The move has allowed Michelin UK to donate more than 13,000 face masks to the wider community, including some Stoke-on-Trent care homes and charities.

A team of seven were given extensive training to carry out the work, including Victoria Shirley.

Victoria, who works in logistics at Michelin, said: “I volunteered for the role because I had started making masks myself, for family and friends, as well as a donation of 500 to a local care home.

“I thought some of these skills might be useful and came in a week beforehand to help start setting up production.

“We are working in a really good atmosphere and keeping morale up.”

Fellow team member, David Clarson, also works in logistics at Michelin. He said: “It feels good to be doing something to help make people safe.”

The mask production facility operates to stringent safety operating protocols, overseen by Michelin Stoke factory manager, Francois Levert.

Francois said: “The factory is back in production and it is important we are self-sufficient in face masks. Safety is our number one priority and people from different parts of Michelin UK have worked together on this project – it has been a great team effort from everyone.”

International Trade secretary Liz Truss is among three MPs who will be addressing the Chamber’s inaugural Global Trade Conference this month.

Ms Truss, who has served as the UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade since July 2019, will be speaking at the digital conference on 24 June.

There will also be appearances by former Chamber president Saqib Bhatti, who is now Conservative MP for Meriden, and Edgbaston MP Preet Gill, who in April was appointed Shadow International Development Secretary by new Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Ms Truss, the MP for South West Norfolk has held a number of positions in Government including Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Secretary of Stage for Justice and Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Mr Bhatti is the youngest president in the history of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. He stepped down in December after being elected as MP for Meriden. Last week, he was named as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Department of International Trade and Government Equalities Office.

Ms Gill has served as MP for Edgbaston since 2017. She was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as joint International Development Minister in January 2018 before being promoted to Shadow Secretary of State for International Development in April.

The political trio join a stellar line-up of conference speakers which includes US ambassador to the UK, Robert Wood Johnson, Doug Bouton, co-founder and chief executive of best-selling ice cream brand Halo Top, representatives from Solihull-based global fitness and sports apparel retailer Gymshark and leading economists Joe Brusuelas and Simon Hart of RSM.

The digital conference has a theme of ‘Resuming global trade after Covid-19’ and will form part of a week of international activities.

It is free to attend for Chamber members and non-members.

Headline sponsors for the event are Birmingham City University, WM International, RSM and METCloud.

For more information click here.

West Midlands businesses are being invited to take part in the process of acquiring licensing and merchandising rights to produce and sell official Birmingham 2022-branded products in the run up to the Commonwealth Games.

CGF Partnerships (CGFP), which is a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Games Federation, is seeking expressions of interest to acquire the rights to manufacture and sell products bearing the Birmingham 2022, Commonwealth Sport, and Home Nations brands.

The first opportunities include a master licensee who will also appoint a number of sub-licensees who together will design, source, deliver and sell an extensive range of branded products at Birmingham 2022 official shops, online and through other approved retailers.

A separate license is available to design, source, deliver and sell a range of plush soft toys to celebrate the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the largest sports and culture event ever to be held in the West Midlands.

An ecommerce licensee partner will also be sought to build and operate an online shop to sell official licensed products through the Birmingham2022.com website.

The CGFP and Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee are looking to hear from SMEs based in the West Midlands who are interested in demonstrating their capability in any or all of these areas.  

David Leather, chief executive of CGF Partnerships, said: “Birmingham 2022 has already established itself as a force for celebrating all that is good about the West Midlands.

“Building on this strong brand identity will generate a real buzz in the run up to the Games and bring people along on the journey of the host city.

“There is no limit to the range of products that we could grant a license for.  This process is open to everyone and we would encourage applicants to think creatively.”

Ian Reid, chief executive for Birmingham 2022, added: “The Birmingham 2022 brand is an amazing showcase for the city and the West Midlands region to the world.

“As excitement builds towards the Games, it’s important that we prioritise innovation and sustainability in every product, whether that’s a toy mascot or a reusable coffee cup.

“We’re looking for partners that are as committed as we are to reduce packaging and waste, source materials efficiently, commit to reusable and recyclable materials and minimise the carbon footprint of our products.

“I want to encourage West Midlands businesses, as well as international firms with expertise in this field, to come up with creative product ideas that put Birmingham 2022 firmly on the global stage and help the region to grow and succeed.”

Registration of interest will close on 26 June.

Port Vale owner Carol Shanahan and her son Paddy are clubbing together to put on a DJ set across the digital airwaves, to raise funds for charity.

Taking place on Saturday (13 June) the set is being played out on Facebook Live from Vale Park for the charities #LIVEFORLOVE and The Hubb Foundation.

Paddy, who works at Port Vale, has been supporting both charities during the Covid-19 crisis, carrying out volunteer work at The Hubb to deliver meals across Stoke-on-Trent and streaming regular DJ sets over Facebook Live for the #LIVEFORLOVE campaign.

He said: “The goal of the live DJ set is to bring smiles to people’s faces, music into their day and raise some money for causes that are making a real positive difference to people’s lives.

“We’ll be playing music, talking on the mic and having fun doing something a bit silly to raise awareness and money for something very serious.”

The live set will be posted on the #LIVEFORLOVE Facebook page, from 3pm to 6pm.

#LIVEFORLOVE raises money for UK food banks during lockdown, streaming daily across various online platforms, while The Hubb Foundation was founded just over 12 months ago by Carol to provide a lifeline for families and children in Stoke-on-Trent.

Carol said: “We are always looking at ways of building partnerships and activities to help us make a difference to families most in need of support in these unprecedented times.

“This is going to be a bit of fun and at the same time raise awareness of the work of the charities, and hopefully draw in some donations.

“There will be lots of different styles of music, including disco house, techno funk and Northern Soul.

“We are sure there will be something in there for everyone.”

Kanuka Digital, a digital marketing and web agency based on Staffordshire Technology Park, has put together a business essentials package covering website design, development, search engine optimisation and ongoing support to help local businesses put their best foot forward online.

According to research, 97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else. On top of that, after making a local business search on a mobile device, 88% of consumers will either call or visit the business within 24 hours.

That is why Kanuka Digital aims to help local business owners get better access to the help they need in making sure that their business is set-up to flourish in an always evolving digital landscape.

Joe Turner, Digital Marketing Manager at Kanuka Digital, said:

“Having a strong online presence can make or break a business. We’ve seen this first-hand in recent months as businesses that already had a solid digital strategy in place have been better placed to cope with, and even thrive in, the coronavirus crisis. We want to make it easier for Staffordshire businesses to showcase their products or services and for more customers to be able to find them online.”

The ‘Online Essentials’ package taps into Kanuka Digital’s vast experience in building beautiful on-brand, fast, secure and search engine friendly websites. In recent months, Kanuka Digital have already been helping the likes of Staffordshire based businesses PlumbGas and Risual to generate more leads online.

Joe Turner adds, “We’d love to speak to any local business who want to generate more business online. Whether it’s an overhaul of an existing website and social media presence or building a new eCommerce website to sell products, our Online Essentials is designed to cover all bases.”

To find out more visit http://www.kanukadigital.com/local-business-online-essentials-package or drop a line to:

01785 279 985

Over the past 3 months the government has responded to the devastating financial impact of Covid-19 on businesses with several packages of support to help businesses of all sizes – SMEs, the self-employed and larger businesses.

Ranging from support to help pay employees and business owners, to grants and loans and tax deferral schemes, the packages of support have been wide reaching.

However, with changes being made to some of the support and deadlines looming for businesses to apply for some elements of support, many are confused about what support is available and how to access it.

To help businesses we have created a handy guide for businesses of all sizes to understand the support available to them and to find out more, including links to apply for support under the various schemes.

Commenting on the guide, Richard McNeilly from Dains LLP said; “In the last week Rishi Sunak has made a number of changes to the support available to businesses.  The changes he has announced range from the beginning of a tapering off of certain elements of support such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough), to the extension of dates for some such as the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).  The guide we have produced provides a comprehensive summary of all the schemes, key dates and provides links to enable businesses to apply for support.”

Download the guide here: https://www.dains.com/assets/downloadable/Coronavirus-Government-Support-For-Business.pdf

The government has also put in place a very helpful online tool that businesses can use to find out exactly what support they can apply for by answering a selection of questions about their business and circumstances.  The Government Business Support finder is available here: https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder