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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. We've split it into three sections - free business advice, financial support, and business offers (free and discounted).

FREE BUSINESS ADVICE

XpertHR is hosting a webinar at 11am BST on Thursday 2 April 2020 with employment lawyer and XpertHR Consultant Editor Darren Newman to give employers advice on how to protect their business. 

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                                  

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

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.

BUSINESS OFFERS – FREE AND DISCOUNTED

Leeds-based web development agency, GRM Digital is offering three local businesses a completely free of charge e-commerce website to ensure trading continues throughout the pandemic. To apply, business owners must register their interest at https://resources.grm.digital/covid-19/ by 5pm on 31 March 2020. The GRM Digital team will choose the three candidates based on where it believes its assistance will have the most impact. The three selected firms will be announced on 3 April 2020.

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/

A team of business owners are putting on a free online summit on 2 April, to helping small business owners get through the current uncertain times and come out the other side fighting. It will last about 2.5 hours. The content will all be recorded and then published for anyone to watch afterwards. Register here: https://my.demio.com/ref/rO8XlYI984KgT16x

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. 

Lindi Mngaza and her team at Explode Social Media is running free consultations for businesses looking for additional support. With no-strings-attached expert advice, 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.

Pret a Manger and McDonalds are offering free drinks as a thank you to nurses and other NHS staff.

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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