A pilot to encourage refugee entrepreneurs to establish businesses has been launched in Staffordshire today (17 October 2019).

The pilot is part of a one-year programme jointly funded by the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund, which will be overseen by the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE).

It will be delivered by the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, who deliver services to help businesses to start, grow and succeed in Staffordshire

Working directly with the refugees and established local businesses, the pilot will deliver tailored start-up programmes that will take refugees from idea stage to the launch of their business.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

“The UK has world leading resettlement programmes which provide sanctuary to thousands of the most vulnerable refugees every year

“It is vital that these refugees are given the best chance to flourish. This project will help them to build businesses and make a real success of their new lives in Staffordshire.”

Mark Purvis, Deputy Director England at The National Lottery Community Fund said:

“By putting people in the lead and championing entrepreneurship, this project, made possible by National Lottery players, will support refugees to fulfil their potential and thrive.”

The Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce will provide comprehensive support for 40 refugees and will build on extensive experience in business support. Drawing on their networks, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce will also deliver mentoring support via volunteer entrepreneurs. They will also share the results of the project with the network of 52 accredited Chambers of Commerce across the country.

Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce chief executive Sara Williams said:

“We are excited to support refugees from across Staffordshire with developing their ideas, entrepreneurial spirit and business techniques to start and develop a successful business, through our dedicated bespoke support programme.

“The support and funding from the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund, together with the support from CFE has helped to make our project a reality and will have a big impact on refugees across our county.”

Centre for Entrepreneurs chairman Oliver Pawle said:

“We are grateful for support from the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund in helping us realise the vision we set out in our report last year.

“The Centre for Entrepreneurs is excited to work with the Chambers over the coming year to help refugees into entrepreneurship and to prove that tailored business support strengthens integration.”

The programme will be overseen by CFE and a national expert advisory group including representatives from the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund, refugee entrepreneurs, and experts from the academic and voluntary sectors.

The pilot in Staffordshire is part of four programmes across the UK, with others based in Bristol, East of England and Belfast.

Refugees in the UK have access to mainstream benefits and services to enable their integration and departments across Government are working to ensure services meet their needs. This new pilot will allow refugees to move forward with the process of integration, which was the focus of the Government’s Integrated Communities Action plan published in February 2019. In the action plan the Government committed to increase integration support for all refugees in the UK, with one of the key focuses being employment.

As part of that commitment, the Home Office, in partnership with UNHCR, the International Organisation for Migration, Business in the Community and the Department for Work and Pensions recently launched ‘Tapping Potential’ – guidelines for British businesses on employing refugees. The Government is also committed to continuing support for the Refugee Employment Network, whose vision is to enable every refugee in the UK to gain appropriate, fulfilling, paid employment or self-employment.

The pilot will cost £360,300; £210,000 will be covered by the Home Office and the remaining £150,150 will be covered by The National Lottery Community fund. The Centre is working with academic partners to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the pilot so that, if successful, it can be implemented more widely in the future.

Healthy fast food business NutriBox is hoping to feed as many vulnerable people as possible this Christmas across Stoke-on-Trent with their Community Christmas Meal campaign.
These people may be in crisis, isolated or in need of a little extra support and cheer this festive season. The team are keen to hear from organisations in Stoke-on-Trent who work with vulnerable groups or individuals in the community who they think would benefit from a freshly prepared meal this Christmas.
The team at NutriBox have committed to deliver a freshly prepared, nutritionally balanced meal to a person in need on Monday 23 December this year. They’ll be cooking up one meal for every £5 in donations the campaign receives between now and the 15 December cut-off date.
Customers of NutriBox can choose to ‘pay it forward’ by paying for an extra meal or meals along with their order, but the business is also looking for local businesses and other organisations to get involved through fundraisers and donations.
“Our ethos is about creating a culture where healthy food is achievable and enjoyable for everyone,” said NutriBox co-founder Marvin Molloy. “For some people it’s an issue of time and convenience, for others it’s about education, but many people don’t have a choice at all. We want to show those people that there is someone out there thinking of them this Christmas.”
There are at least 2,058 food banks in the UK according to the Independent Food Aid Network, and at least 2,500 independent food aid providers. The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest network of food banks, handed out more than 1 million food packs in 2017. Food poverty is an issue that causes deep distress to families and individuals in Stoke-on-Trent every single day.
Rather than sending out Christmas cards this year, the team at NutriBox are urging businesses to consider donating that money instead to feed vulnerable local people.
Call Marvin on 07523 694719 if you want to get involved or donate.

RBK Accountants Celebrates Success

North Staffordshire Accountancy firm – RBK accountants has already surpassed its financial targets for 2019 and has a celebrated with a re-brand and new offices!

Founded by Richard Kessel in 2017, RBK Accountants provides accountancy, taxation, financial mentoring and bookkeeping support to an ever-growing client base across the UK and predominantly North Staffordshire and Cheshire.

Commenting on the success, Owner Richard Kessel said “I am absolutely thrilled with the growth and success of my business in such a short space of time; I truly believe its success is down to my honest, transparent and partnership approach. I always strive to give my clients the best possible advice to support their business financially and operationally”

Richard Kessel continues “I have a vision for continued growth in 2019 and beyond, which requires the lease for a dedicated office space along with the appointment of a marketing agency.”

In September, RBK Accountants moved into a new serviced office space on Lymedale Business Centre. The new office space marks a significant move for the company, as founder Richard looks for a talented accountant to join on him on his journey.

“It’s so exciting to have an office space where I can meet clients and look to expand the team” comments Richard,” Strategi Solutions Group have also developed a fresh, creative brand which has pride of place on the wall.”

Strategi Solutions Group are working with RBK Accountants to deliver marketing, PR, social and design services.

“Richard is a delight to work alongside, injecting fun and personality into a brand and marketing strategy. He has achieved so much in a short time and we are confident with our support raising the visibility of his great work, RBK Accountants will continue growing at pace” Comments Lyn Rowe Commercial Sales Director at Strategi Solutions Group.

Great skincare for everyone

SkinQuest Stoke has finally opened its doors! The team of skincare experts, led by Jas Smith, owner of Jasmin Olivia Beauty, has had its first few clients through the door. Providing medical grade, results driven, skincare treatments to the ladies (and gents) of Stoke-on-Trent, it’s the company’s aim to deliver these in a way that feels accessible, friendly and inclusive for everyone.

SkinQuest’s owner, Jasmin Smith says “I am passionate about breaking down the stuffy, exclusive, image of the beauty and skincare industry and honestly believe that great skincare and treatments should be accessible to everyone. Having suffered with skin problems during my teenage years I know, only too well, how this can impact on self-esteem and confidence. I’m determined, through SkinQuest, to bring truly great skincare to a much wider, relevant audience.”

Having spent the best part of a decade providing beauty and skincare treatments to her already loyal client base, Jasmin says “We felt it was time for a company like ours to expand. Putting our clients emotional and physical wellbeing at the very heart of what we do, we will work with leading skincare brands such as Dermaquest and Elemis, to offer a really broad range of treatments including IPL (laser hair removal), microdermabrasion, skin re-surfacing and skin peels, all at our gorgeous new premises on Ridgehouse Drive.”

Jasmin first realised the opportunity to expand into Unit 7 after meeting Sally Turner, MD at Bodyline. A medical weight loss and wellness company, Bodyline was keen to attract another business into the building that would complement their own offering, and where the clinic, like SkinQuest, is designed to be accessible and friendly to all.

The team at SkinQuest are fortunate to have one of the UK’s leading manufacturers and training experts in microdermabrasion, IPL and Radio Frequency Treatments, SkinBase, nearby in Talke. Fellow chamber members, SkinBase, have been a great support, providing the team with the machines and the best possible training in the new treatments and therapies on offer. Moving forward, SkinQuest anticipates a much stronger collaboration as they grow and make full use of SkinBase’s Radio Frequency machine to help Bodyline clients who have lost skin elasticity after their weight loss.

Our open evening is the 17th of October and chamber members are invited to join us for a glass of bubbly to celebrate our official launch.

For more information please contact Jasmin Smith on 01782 281487 or email info@skinqueststoke.com

Simple Shared healthcare

Simple Shared Healthcare is a Social Enterprise and member organisation for healthcare and wellbeing providers who want to deliver better and faster outcomes for their patients.

Our methodology is based on simple, interactive and practical behaviour change principles and designed to deliver an effective, low cost approach for the NHS and private companies.

We provide an intelligent mixture of an almost invisible technical platform, subtle methods based on psychology based behaviour change principles that invoke responses from patients akin to engagement with their own clinician which results in high satisfaction and efficacy.  The methodology balances the needs of the clinical community with the everyday needs of patients and their aspiration to carry on life as normally as possible despite having a condition that needs regular and consistent management.

Almost ten years on from it’s conception, our methods continue to stand out by consistently producing independently evaluated positive behaviour change results across a wide range of clinical and  well-being applications irrespective of a person’s age, ethnicity or socio-economic background, see www.simple.uk.net

Big Quiz Night

Businesses across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire are being urged to help shape the area’s new industrial strategy by completing a brief online survey.

They can also attend one of two local industrial strategy workshops this month.

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.

The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SSLEP) is developing its local industrial strategy. It will aim to support companies 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.

People can find the survey on the LEP website’s Local Industrial Strategy section: bit.ly/2ICGHKv

The information and consultation workshops will take place on the following dates and at these locations:

  • Wednesday October 16, 2pm to 4pm, Michelin Tyre Plc, Campbell Road, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 4EY
  • Thursday October 17, 10.30am to 12.30pm, Wardell Armstrong LLP, Sir Henry Doulton House, Forge Lane, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 5BD

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

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP acting 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 new course will be run for the first time in Staffordshire to help businesses get the low down on home working. Is “working from home” just an opportunity for staff to shirk their responsibilities or an opportunity that can bring increased productivity to business?

Claire Nicoll, from Work Best Ltd, has created the course which will help delegates consider all aspects of home working, from how to avoid isolation to fulfilling legal obligations. Claire recognizes that it may not suit everyone but argues that there are many benefits to home working that remain unrealised if businesses avoid looking at it carefully and holistically.

Home working advantages include increased flexibility, staff retention, increased productivity, and a reduced carbon footprint. Commuting time can be unproductive for people and car travel releases carbon emissions into the environment, especially at peak travel times. But Staffordshire is largely a rural county so alternative transport is not always an option, but home working could be for many office based staff.

The course, being run in Newcastle under Lyme on 23rd October at Summit Hospitality will help businesses understand the key factors that make home working work. https://homeworkingforemployers.eventbrite.co.uk or contact claire.nicoll@workbest.co.uk.

A leading Staffordshire expert is reporting high demand for Japanese Knotweed surveys as the invasive plant comes into late Summer bloom.
Rising awareness of the destructive properties of Japanese Knotweed has seen Japanese Knotweed Expert Ltd grow its Fenton-based team from three to 10 staff in recent times, with further growth set to take the team up to 15 by 2021.
In just one day this Summer, the Fenton and Barlaston-based experts surveyed or treated 12 sites affected by the plant.
Jason Harker, Managing Director of Japanese Knotweed Expert Ltd said “It is not unusual for Japanese knotweed to devalue a property by over £20,000, if it has not been treated professionally. It is so important therefore that a qualified company is involved as soon as the Japanese knotweed is identified to ensure minimal damage is caused to the property and that the valuation is not effected,” said Jason who has 20-years of experience of tackling the invasive plant. “The Government estimates it would cost £1.5bn to clear the UK of knotweed.
“It is important that people learn to identify Japanese Knotweed but equally anyone who discovers it should not think it is a continuous blight on their property. We can provide a solution backed by a 10-year guarantee that will allow homeowners or companies to sell their property.”
Japanese Knotweed Expert Ltd covers the whole of the UK from its offices in Stoke-on-Trent.
A recent YouGov survey suggested 32% of British adults, who are aware of Japanese knotweed, were prepared to go ahead and purchase an affected property, but at a reduced price.
The majority of these, (26 per cent) would expect a discount of between 6 – 10 per cent, while 15 per cent would expect to knock off between just 1 – 5 per cent. A further 15 per cent would seek to reduce the price by more than a quarter.
Jason added: “The key factor with these figures is that they are dependent on a professional treatment and eradication plan being in place. Japanese Knotweed Expert Ltd was one of the first five companies in the UK to be qualified to have a fully certified Japanese Knotweed surveyor – this is vital to gain a mortgage.”
“You are not under any legal obligations to remove Knotweed from your own property, although professional eradication is strongly advised, but the moment it encroaches upon your neighbour’s land or affects natural wildlife you are breaking the law. This could potentially lead to prosecution, fines, or even imprisonment for up to two years.”
In one recent case, Japanese Knotweed Expert Ltd helped leading vehicle hardware company Albert Jagger Ltd to remove the invasive plant so that they could sell a redundant site.
Having identified several strands of Japanese Knotweed on the site in Romsey, Hampshire, treatment was recommended. This began in 2017 and has continued in 2018 and 2019.
The sale of the site has now successfully gone through. Regular inspections of the site are still being carried-out to ensure that there is no further growth of the Japanese Knotweed and to treat any identified new growth.
The visits will continue until the site has been completely free of new Japanese Knotweed growth for three years. It will then be declared as free from invasive weeds and a 10-year company and insurance backed guarantee will be issued to the site owner.
This guarantee means that Japanese Knotweed Expert Ltd will revisit the site at any point to treat any new growth within the 10 years following the certificate of removal being issued.
Mark Hilton from Albert Jagger said: “Japanese Knotweed Expert were recommended to us and were professional and efficient from the very start. They were always happy to advise us on the best way to deal with the Japanese Knotweed on our site and the removal they carried out was cost efficient and timely. As a result, we have been able to sell our site with no issues and can now focus on the growth of the company at our other locations. I would be happy to recommend the Japanese Knotweed Expert team.”
• Japanese Knotweed was encouraged by some gardening experts in Victorian times and was used extensively to strengthen railway embankments, due to its incredibly strong root structure.
• Japanese Knotweed can grow up to 10cm per day from May to July. Regeneration can occur from a tiny piece of root material and this is why it has developed a feared presence for landowners.
• Late summer and early autumn are amongst the best times to spot it, as this is when the flowers emerge. They are creamy-white in colour and appear in lengthy cluster/spike formations.
Japanese Knotweed Expert Ltd is part of the Planterra group of companies. The Group has demonstrated rapid growth in recent years and currently has more than 33 staff. A major new headquarters development, in Barlaston, is nearing completion.
For further information on Japanese Knotweed Expert Ltd, please go online to https://www.japaneseknotweedexpert.co.uk/.

Tamworth based Augmented Reality specialists Enlighten have taken the top spot in a Midlands wide list of tech innovators.

Enlighten were ranked number one in a prestigious search for the best innovative tech companies launched by Business Cloud magazine.

The tough qualification procedure means only the best innovative companies were considered, First, Enlighten had to be nominated by the judging panel to be part of the long list which was put to a public vote. The list was then ranked on two criteria; number of votes and the judges’ comments, with the top 50 being published.

“We are absolutely thrilled,” said Managing Director Suzanne Edwards. “The list contains the biggest names in the sector in a wide area including Birmingham, Nottingham and Stoke-on-Trent, so to be ranked number one is a major honour.”

The tough qualification procedure means only the best innovative companies were considered, First, Enlighten had to be nominated by the judging panel to be part of the long list which was put to a public vote. The list was then ranked on two criteria; number of votes and the judges’ comments, with the top 50 being published.

Suzanne added: “It was an achievement just to be nominated by the judges and then to be so highly thought of that enough people voted for us and helped us secure the top spot is a fantastic testimonial for the work we do.”

Based at the Tamworth Enterprise Centre, Enlighten develop Augmented Reality solutions in the corporate business, health and education sectors. Previous work with the Armed Forces has seen Enlighten embed important health messages on Post Traumatic Stress Disorders in posters for the British Armed Forces.

They recently won a major contract to support mental health awareness solutions for 1,200 students at the Regent College Group, London.

“We have a strong track record of developing tech for good and evidence shows our Augmented Reality mental health awareness application has provided effective support and signposted users to seek help,” said Suzanne.

Augmented Reality offers interactive solutions for all business sectors. While Enlighten’s solutions have primarily been pioneered to support mental health campaigns, the technology can be used in offices and factories and at events and exhibitions to bring information to life and to signpost staff and customers to additional material, contact information, websites  and videos.

To find out more about Enlighten, please go online to www.enlighten-ac.uk.