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So many #UMiSTARS are doing amazing things despite the challenges you face with your own businesses during this time.

We know you don't do it for the recognition, but we want to give everyone the chance to give a public shoutout to those who have helped them and provide a place for you to share the great opportunities you're offering to others. We've split this into three sections -

Free business advice

Financial support

Business offers (free and discounted)

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FREE BUSiNESS ADVICE

A pilot programme of online workshops to help SMEs and social enterprises adapt to a post-COVID working environment is to be rolled out by Viridor’s Community Benefits teams for Glasgow and Clyde Valley. For those interested in learning more, or to register for a place on the workshops, please get in touch via email at Glasgow SMEs/SEs or  Clyde Valley SMEs/SEs

In an effort to help small businesses during this difficult time, JournoLink is offering all businesses the chance to share how they are affected by, or coping with, the Coronavirus COVID19 pandemic with the media through their new free platform

The York & North Yorkshire Growth Hub has invested in a community-led shopping platform, ShopAppy.com, allowing local businesses to have free 12-month subscriptions to the site to help them trade during the Covid-19 crisis. 

Newly launched web-based service Generosity Bank connects small businesses with skilled professionals who want to help businesses in their local area through short-term skills-based volunteering. Apply as a volunteer or a small business organisation here.

Following the announcement of Government's first sketch of a road map for reopening society, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has launched a free online tool to help businesses start to develop their own road map to restart, restore and recover.

Siemens Digital Industries is running daily ‘#TechTalks’ during Covid-19 to help clients get the most from Siemens products and solutions, maximise uptime, save energy and manage their systems remotely. The webinars run from Monday to Friday with topics at 9am and 2pm and 10am and 3pm UK time. To register please visit:  www.siemens.co.uk/techtalks

Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) has launched a webinar events series as part of its i-Con Covid-19 support initiative for the built environment.  

The York & North Yorkshire Growth Hub has teamed up with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) to give practical advice about how businesses can manage cash during the coronavirus crisis, as well as put systems in place for the future.

The Cyber Resilience Centre is offering a free three-month membership for businesses in Greater Manchester to offer them advice, regular news updates and useful tools to help improve their cyber resilience.

SupplyCompass, the design and production platform for fast-growing fashion brands, has announced it will be hosting a webinar on 12 May in partnership with Common Objective and Techstyler, centred on navigating uncertainty in the fashion industry as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Tyneside Council has launched a digital blog series aimed at connecting its businesses affected by COVID-19 with practical advice from a range of specialists from within the borough. The series includes topics such as:

  • IT for homeworking by ITC Digital
  • Supporting employee mental health and wellbeing by the HR Department
  • Public relations post COVID-19 by Bradley O'Mahoney
  • Getting more leads via your website by Carl Buckley of Urban River Creative
  • How to build trust by Ian Farrar

Energy PR, the Gloucestershire based PR and digital communications agency, is offering free consultation on e-commerce marketing to businesses across the country that have been forced to move to online selling platforms due to lockdown.

Digital, financial and legal specialists have collaborated to develop an innovative platform offering free expert advice to businesses on how to survive and thrive during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

The Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce is supporting local businesses with:

To help waste sector key workers operate safely during the Government imposed lockdown, waste compliance company Dsposal has prepared and released the first in a series of free training modules on COVID-19 safety measures.

Legal firm Aaron & Partners has announced it will be hosting a free online HR workshop to provide expert advice to HR professionals and business leaders during the UK-wide lockdown period. The one-hour seminar - taking place Tuesday 21 April at 12.30pm - will focus on workplace investigations and offer an opportunity for questions and answers around some of the recent challenges HR professionals have faced in this area as a result of Covid-19.

Living Well UK has launched a free call line, offering access to trained counsellors and talking therapists, and in more severe cases, immediate mental health triage support exclusively for those on the front line.

North East commercial law firm, Muckle LLP, has launched a new free helpdesk, which enables businesses and organisations to speak to a team of lawyers for pointers on legal concerns arising from the coronavirus crisis.

The Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs have developed a free Small Business Survival Toolkit to provide businesses with guidance, support and online learning to help them continue operating through the coronavirus pandemic. 

Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI, The Data Lab, has opened registration for its latest free online data training course – Driving Value From Data. Running from 20 April 2020, the four-week course is aimed at business leaders and key decision-makers in the private, public and third sector.

The ‘Coronavirus Community Support’ hub has been created by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to help match the growing number of requests being made for businesses to help, and the offers of support coming in from the region’s businesses.

The Digital Learning Hub is a free resource providing online masterclasses, tips and advice to young businesses that want to improve their skills and knowledge. It covers business planning, sales, leadership skills, marketing and pricing. It has been developed by Leeds Beckett University in partnership with AD:VENTURE, a business support programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and Candle Digital, an online learning platform provider based in Halifax. 

A new guide called Thrive at Home has been created by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) providing bosses with useful information on maintaining staff wellbeing as they adapt to new working practices.  Following on from Thrive at Home for employers, a version aimed at employees and other home workers is being planned to go live in the near future.

Duo Global Consulting is offering a range of free resources that provides some quick tips and answers to the questions around how business leaders and managers can manage productivity during change and remote working.

The Digital Gene is offering free 30-minute digital marketing consultancy calls - open to any type of business that is trading or needs to start trading online in the UK. The team can give you tips to improve your website and digital presence or your branding. To begin with there will be five slots 11.00am to 11.30am Monday to Friday. 

North East accountancy firm MHA Tait Walker has launched a free business hub to help thousands of SMEs across the region access critical advice and information. It has also set up a a LinkedIn North East Business Continuity Group where business owners and employees can ask Lee Humble, associate partner in corporate finance, Paul Shields, associate partner and Alastair Wilson, tax partner, questions for free on how new measures might affect their businesses.

Sheffield City Region Growth Hub has set up a dedicated webpage which outlines all of the schemes announced, who is eligible for each, what the scheme is worth, how to apply, and who the scheme is operated by.

The South Wales Chamber of Commerce has created a Supply and Demand Resource Hub, for businesses to share their resources, services and supplies with other companies. The Chamber has created the Hub, not only for their members, but for all businesses in Wales to access free of charge. The Hub is split into two categories: services and supplies that are being offered and services and supplies that are requested. Businesses can share their supply and demand opportunities by emailing support@southwaleschamber.co.uk

The West Midlands Combined Authority has launched a dedicated website, as a bespoke resource for businesses seeking advice on how to deal with the pandemic as well as what financial support is available and how to access it.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub is working with all its partners across the region to provide guidance and support via a daily updated service on its website. The page at is being renewed every day with new information, tips and best practice for businesses and employers,

The Humber LEP, the four Humber Local Authorities and membership and business support organisations from across the Humber have joined forces to co-ordinate the local response to the economic impact of the coronavirus. A new region-wide economic resilience group is now meeting weekly to pool information on the issues affecting businesses, share resources and ensure businesses can access support. 

ScotlandIS has launched an online hub to provide Scottish businesses with essential digital tools to support rapid transformation at this challenging time. The hub offers as many of Scotland’s digital technologies resources as possible to businesses either free of charge or at discounted rates.

The Federation of Small Businesses held a free webinar for businesses – well worth a watch

More advice and support –

Royal Mail advice

The North East Growth Hub

Transmit Start-Ups

TechNation

Food Innovation Wales has opened helplines to support Welsh food and drink manufacturers for advice and support with food safety, technical issues or guidance on supply chain continuity – see their website for regional numbers                                  

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FiNANCiAL SUPPORT

Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation has launched its Coronavirus Response Fund to support smaller charities during the Covid-19 outbreak. Charities can apply for a donation here. 

Manchester eCommerce and EPoS software business Venditan has made £1m available for 100 independent retailers looking to revitalise their e-commerce website during the global pandemic.

Harvey & Hugo Ltd will donate 20 per cent from the fee of all new Pay-as-Hugo PR and marketing services to a charity of their clients’ choice.

Local Food Drops - developed by Stafford-based iWeb - is enabling people to shop locally at home to help boost local businesses that may have been hit by the pandemic. Users can find businesses that deliver food in their area, which includes grocers, butchers, bakers, pet shops and more. 

The Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Project – which offers a range of support to SME manufacturing businesses in the North East LEP area - is making additional funding available to help companies that have adapted during the Coronavirus crisis. 

PeoplePerHour has pledged £10m to help freelancers and small businesses globally. The money will be available for small businesses to spend hiring freelancers on the platform

Business Enterprise Fund (BEF) has committed funding to support businesses. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is the new guarantee scheme that facilitates lending to smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues.

In addition to CBILS, BEF can deliver short term working capital loans of up to £250,000 to safeguard businesses and staff, as well as start-up loans, with £12m of additional funding secured from Impact investors. CBILS also covers the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund which is £10m of further British Business Bank funding for businesses in the Yorkshire and Humber Region.

Up to 40% funding is available to help County Durham businesses purchase digital equipment and consultancy to enable them to work remotely. Please give the team a call on 07443 247 648 or visit Digital Drive County Durham's website to find out more and to check your eligibility. 

The North Highland Initiative’s Community Support Programme has been set up to provide grants of up to £1,000 for small initiatives in the education, conservation, and community service and support sectors in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross & Cromarty. Priority will be given to those initiatives where Government support packages are unable to help, and those ineligible for emergency grants. Apply by 30 April. 

Heart of England Community Foundation has launched grants of up to £1,500 for West Midlands constituted groups providing services such as food banks, social eating projects, emergency food parcel deliveries, and those engaging in outreach activities.

The Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (Humber LEP) will provide grants to enable businesses to facilitate working from home, while the Growth Hub’s business advisors will also be on hand to provide support through telephone consultations

Facebook will be offering $100m in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries. They say – “We’ll share more details as they become available” – so keep checking your Facebook profile.

The HALO Urban Regeneration Company has offered a package of support to the communities of Kilmarnock including an emergency community cash fund of £100,000 to assist the elderly and most vulnerable people across East Ayrshire and to provide support for local small businesses suffering hardship, as well as convening an emergency COBRA-style business group to assist SMEs with advice and funding. 

Cloud Gateway's CEO and co-founder, Justin Day, has donated equipment to transform an LDN Apprenticeships meeting room into a distance learning facility, to host online learning sessions for its 160 apprentices.

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BUSiNESS OFFERS – FREE AND DiSCOUNTED

Ford Motor Company Fund has donated £13,000 to two student entrepreneur groups to support their projects tackling the widespread impact of COVID-19 on their local communities.

CleanedUp has partnered with Transport for London to provide a purpose-built hand sanitiser dispenser at every tube station in the capital.

Specialist housing and care provider Blackwood has purchased the shopping vouchers as a thank you to its social care staff working at the front-line of the Coronavirus crisis.

Coleg Cambria employees are manufacturing scrub bags for frontline workers in their battle against the Coronavirus pandemic, while colleagues from Deeside and Wrexham continue to produce vital PPE (personal protective equipment) using 3D printers and laser-cutting technology.

The Artisan Drinks Company has created a free home colouring book for adults and children, which can be downloaded for printing or used digitally. For your colouring book, email hello@artisandrinks.com.

National skill agency, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is working in partnership with local authorities to provide support through enhanced career and employment services, which can be accessed through Scotland’s national online service My World of Work, for those whose work or learning has been affected by the pandemic.

Enviropax, a packaging manufacturer based in Haydock, Merseyside has announced that it is working with SME funder Simply to provide 25,000 complimentary face visors to nursing and care home facilities as part of the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Santu Coffee is continuing to donate coffee to NHS hospitals around Edinburgh to keep keyworkers caffeinated. 

Hotel management and advisory businesses, Michels & Taylor, is to share its newly developed Hotel Re-Opening Plan with the industry, free of charge, to support the industry throughout this challenging time.

England and West Bromwich Albion blind footballer and dual Paralympian, Darren Harris, has teamed up with the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) Include Me WM programme to make exercise videos to encourage disabled people to remain active during the lockdown.

Artist Rebecca Osborne has teamed up with T-shirt retailer, KPN Merchandise, to produce a specially designed t-shirt honouring Captain Tom Moore, the 100-year-old war veteran that raised over £28m for the NHS by walking 100 lengths of his garden. The t-shirts are available from www.capelessheroes.co.uk with 100% of the profit going to Tom's JustGiving fund for the NHS.

Hundreds of litres of free hand sanitiser have been delivered to Glasgow care homes thanks to Scotch whisky producers, Chivas Brothers. In one week, the company has distributed more than 7,500 litres of hand sanitiser to 166 organisations in Glasgow, Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire.

Huddersfield-based Red Diamond Executive Headhunters is offering free short-term recruitment and admin support for local businesses including care homes, hospices and charities that need support due to numerous employees being unable to work due to Covid-19. As well as offering their professional support, the Red Diamond team is also happy to support by taking calls, delivering flowers or groceries, or undertaking general administrative duties. 

Good & Proper Tea is supplying tea bags to hospitals and ambulance stations in London. So far, they have donated 10,000 tea bags, which have been distributed between London Ambulance HQ and Guys & St Thomas’ Hospitals. 

SoAmpli, a social selling platform that empowers employees to share valuable content online, is being offered for free to new customers that have had their businesses hit by the Coronavirus pandemic.

juice® has teamed up with authorised Samsung repair and service partner, TMT First, in a unique collaboration to provide patients hospitalised with COVID-19 with a refurbished tablet and a juice® power bank, at a time when it has never been more important to connect with family and friends online.

Feel Good Contacts has collaborated with Personal Trainer, Badrul Islam to offer advice on how to alleviate neck, shoulder and back pain when working from home during the lockdown.

UK Startup, Imployable is offering people the chance to gain free, accredited qualification during the lockdown to help people upskill while at home.

COINS Global is offering free online wellbeing workshops to help support construction workers during these worrying times. The workshops are the result of a new collaboration with the UK’s Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity and will run weekly starting from Thursday 16 April, each starting at 12 noon.  

Cybersecurity company, BullGuard, has announced the availability of a free, three-month minimum BullGuard Small Office Security license for small businesses that need assistance managing their cybersecurity in the wake of the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent sudden mass migration of millions of employees who are now working from home.

OYO Hotels & Homes has launched a new ‘virtual hotel’ named OYO Rooms for Carers where members of the public can book overnight stays at the cost of £25 per room, per night which will be gifted to NHS trusts for frontline healthcare workers to redeem at their nearest OYO hotel. Contributions from individual team members, partners and OYO have already covered 1,000 rooms. OYO is not taking a commission on these bookings; the full revenue from every room night booked will be passed to the small independently-owned hotels to cover the minimum costs of keeping those hotels staffed and operational under the current circumstances.

PBL Print has designed and produced a 30-day stay at home colouring book with activity planner priced £5.99 to help engage children in fun, educational activities to support them during their time at home, with a £1 donation going to the NHS for each one sold.

MyKindaFuture has announced a new version of its online employee engagement platform, Connectr, to support clients with furloughed employees. The revamped platform ensures that employers can maintain and enhance their relationships with employees who have been placed on furlough.

The Source Skills Academy, a registered charity, is offering more than 70 online courses for SCR firms, many of them free. The courses range from management skills to data protection and social care qualifications. funding from Skills Support for the Workforce, which is co-financed by the Education and Skills Funding Agency and the European Social Fund. Email vernon.tolson@thesourceacademy.co.uk

London tech law firm Kemp Little has launched a free advisory resource to help businesses navigate tax, legal and financial processes thrown into discord by Coronavirus. The toolkit gives comprehensive advice on issues such as data protection, corporate governance, IP, contracts and people management for founders, SMEs and big business owners.

A new small business website  Support Your Local, Leeds’ is showcasing independent cafes, creative agencies, freelancers, and service providers in Leeds which have websites or online shops. Visit the site to be featured.

OurPeople has developed a free version of its popular team communication platform, specifically for the NHS and wider care sector. OurPeople Now, which can be deployed within days, will enable managers of frontline services and other care sector workers to send vital comms, including images and files, to doctors, nurses, ancillary staff and care workers, alerting them to critical information and any changes to their working practices. Anyone interested should email hello@ourpeople.com.

Premium hotel and hospitality operator Cairn Group is redeploying some of its hotel staff to help care homes support residents amid UK’s Covid-19 crisis. The Group is hoping to share its hotel buddy staff scheme with other care groups across the UK. It is able to offer out trained hotel staff to support other operators in the same way it is doing at its own care homes, and hopes this will also help to protect many hospitality jobs during the coming months.

Cranfield University’s Business Growth Programme is offering free and paid for virtual workshops and drop-in clinics with business counsellors to help SMEs triage and stabilise their organisations. Masterclasses include advice on how to access government support, HR and staffing issues, group work, business plan development and reviews, with mentoring from experts and experienced business owners. Embrace the new normal and learn how to improve performance again.

The WeCare Wales campaign has created a new jobs portal to help social care employers advertise their high number of vacancies across Wales and act as a one stop shop where potential employees can view the jobs.

Pumpkin is offering its mental health wellbeing app to help lower stress, reduce anxiety and sleep better with guided meditation sessions, inspiring speeches, hypnotherapy and calming meditation music. During the coronavirus crisis, Pumpkin is cancelling its monthly subscription fee.

iPhone and iPad - https://apps.apple.com/us/app/pumpkin-self-help/id353137729?ls=1

Android - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.onbeat.PumpkinSelfHelp

Punter Southall Aspire, a specialist in workplace savings, pensions and retirement planning has launched a dedicated online resource centre to help clients, businesses and individuals to understand and respond to the financial impact of Coronavirus. It offers advice, guidance and resources that will be continually updated. Future content will focus on workplace savings, retirement planning and personal financial planning.

SoAmpli, a social selling platform that empowers employees to share valuable content online, is being offered for free for three months to Coronavirus-struck businesses. SoAmpli’s functions includes a ‘leaderboard’ system which promotes healthy competition for teams by ranking their online posts – providing insight into how many clicks, shares and engagement they have each achieved.

Strategi Solutions Group Ltd in Staffordshire is offering a range of tools, top tips and advice for businesses across Staffordshire and Cheshire, from HR to marketing and social media to supporting employee mental health. Many of the resources are free, with only specialist and or bespoke support requests being charged at a significantly reduced rate.

On offer is a similar service from Manchester growth partner Konductor, which has launched a free telephone and online consultation.

The Ideal Marketing Company is running free weekly webinars to help participants with issues such as identifying their key business message, how to strengthen their brand in times of crisis and how to keep in touch with customers. Each weekly webinar includes a Q&A as well as offering free marketing support and guidance on a variety of marketing topics. They are open to anyone who signs up via Eventbrite - https://idealmarketingcompany.co.uk/crisis-communications/

Scarab4, based in Newcastle, is offering free and impartial advice to companies – of any size – as they learn how to operate in new ways over the coming months. Businesses are advised to call the company directly on 0844 800 2686, to discuss how they can help, or email hello@scarab4.com.

Mobile Mini is providing free container hire for charities, essential businesses and those involved in major infrastructure projects, local government and healthcare services across the UK. Local charities can get free storage for up to six months, and the company is also offering 72 hours of free container hire for businesses that need support to ensure distancing for teams, provide secure storage for stock and add additional space to stay operational. 

SpeedQuizzing, an interactive quiz platform based in York, has created an online hosting platform and a free to download app, SQLive, which can be used to both host and play interactive online quizzes. SpeedQuizzing hosts can run quizzes on the platform using their existing digital question packs free of charge, while new hosts simply need to purchase a downloadable question pack, containing 61 questions, through SpeedQuizzing.com for a minimal fee to gain full access to the software.

Digital and technology platform provider, Adzooma, will provide free access to their platform. The international platform will now be available free of charge to agencies, small businesses and all those who use Google, Microsoft or Facebook to showcase their business or services.  This will take effect from now, until at least June 2020.

Social enterprise and beer brand, Brewgooder, has created ‘One On Us’ – a platform for the British public to send a cost price four pack of beer and message of appreciation to NHS employees. Brewgooder is donating the first 50 care packages completely free and is inviting its customers to sponsor additional packs for £6, which can be claimed directly by further NHS employees at a time suitable to them.

Huddersfield-based digital agency Splitpixel Creative has launched a new online ordering platform, TheLocal.Delivery. to give small businesses an easy way to handle online orders for delivery and takeout, even taking payments online. Access to the platform is being offered for a one-off fee of £50, with free hosting while the lockdown lasts. Invoices won’t be sent until businesses are settled in and comfortable paying them.

Tech start-up, Caroo, has extended its offering of free recruitment to businesses across Yorkshire. Firms including BAE Systems, DLA Piper, Sky Betting and Gaming, IRIS Software Group and Walker Morris LLP are all actively looking to recruit for positions to be held in York, Sheffield and Leeds. Roles currently available within Yorkshire via the recruitment platform include IT security manager, Software Engineer, IT Operations Engineer and Automation Test Engineers.

Distance learning provider Oxbridge has launched a £35,000 bursary fund, which will provide relief and give students 20% off their course fees. Oxbridge offers courses from bookkeeping to beauty therapy to counselling, event management etc. The college’s curriculums are available on a part or full time basis, meaning that they can be adapted to schedules as needed. To claim 20% off, new students just need to enter FUND20 at checkout.

East End of Glasgow-based Spectrum Properties is offering free storage in its two main state of the art facilities for companies which have been forced to shut their doors - for example, restaurants or bars’ tables and chairs that are normally kept outside the premises, or substantial quantities of valuable stock which you want to keep in a secure location. Call 0141 554 9000 for details.  

Paymentsense is offering a suite of tools to its existing customers to enable them to easily and quicklytransform their restaurants into takeaways and start taking orders online.

ImmuniWeb CEO and founder, Ilia Kolochenko is offering free web and mobile security testing for businesses of all sizes and from all niches.

Malcolm Nicholls Limited (MNL) will prioritise production for and offer a reduced rate to designers or product developers looking for assistance with producing 3D printed parts for the production of ventilators, sanitiser dispensers or any other product designed to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. Email quotes@mnl.co.uk or call 01789 490 382. 

Explode Social Media is running free consultations for businesses looking for additional support. The Explode Social Media team will run audits of your existing channels and make suggestions for how you can better use them at this turbulent time. Give them a call on 0121 338 0209. 

Alistair Appleton, broadcaster, meditation teacher and psychotherapist, is offering two daily sessions for people to get together and do some yoga stretches at home or some embodied meditation. To register go to https://mailchi.mp/mind-springs/coronacomfort

ResearchGate is also opening up its scientific job board and allowing teams that are recruiting scientists, researchers, or scientific support staff to post job advertisements for free (for a limited time). Email them at jobs@researchgate.net.

SupplyCompass, the design and production platform for fast-growing fashion brands, is offering brands £500 credit to use against SupplyCompass services - quote UMI-SC2020.

Soar Valley Press in Leicestershire has launched ‘Here to Help’ postcards aimed at supporting vulnerable people who are self-isolating in the county. They include a space for a name, company/organisation, address, phone number, and a range of tasks that the individual may need assistance with, and are available at a below cost rate.

Synergi is offering free 30 minute Microsoft Teams webinars three days each week at 12.30pm to help support teams working from home. Register online, or alternatively contact remoteworking@teamsynergi.co.uk.

Panintelligence is offering its business intelligence solutions and training for free for at least 90 days to support and empower Yorkshire organisations - sign up online or contact 0113 818 7040. 

Who are your UMiSTARS? Email us or use the hashtag on social media and we'll do our best to give them a shout-out.

Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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