College launch scheme to help businesses and individuals survive COVID economy

30th September 2020

Barking & Dagenham College has unveiled a new programme aimed at helping local businesses, individuals and start-ups succeed post-COVID.

The new COVID+ Business Support Recovery Plan goes live on 1st October. It is particularly focused on micro and small businesses within the retail, leisure and hospitality sector. These are the areas that the College has identified as being some of the hardest hit in the borough.

As Yvonne Kelly, Principal and CEO of Barking & Dagenham College, explains: “The idea is really an extension of our College’s ethos of fostering an entrepreneurial climate to help gain financial independence and prosperity. These are unprecedented times and we have given considerable thought to what we could do to help our local community not only survive but thrive and our new scheme is our answer to this.”

The plan will offer businesses the chance to take advantage of a dedicated suite of business, individual and start-up support and recovery opportunities. This will include activities such as digital skills development webinar sessions run by career and industry representatives, as well as help with financial health checks, strategy building, apprenticeship training and building an online presence. It will also be offering qualifications in topics such as IT, finance, business and digital marketing.

In addition to this, the College will also be hiring out space, offering ‘clean desking’ opportunities – the chance to use professional office space while still maintaining a safe clean, secure working environment in keeping with covid-19 regulations. There will also be the opportunity to use the College’s commercial business units at the front of the College, which could provide potential, temporary retail spaces that can be used to promote and sell products.

Businesses will also have the chance to apply the talents and skills of the College’s students. This could be anything from students offering their bricklaying, carpentry, joinery, web design and digital transformation skills, to using their accounting skills to help businesses calculate VAT or draw up invoices or offer their graphic skills to help come up with new business logos and images.

The announcement follows meetings of the Barking and Dagenham Business Forum Steering Group, which was set up by the Council to look at the key issues facing businesses due to COVID 19.

The College is also challenging big businesses to get involved by sponsoring business owners and providing mentoring and support. Tim Carey, Business Enterprise & Skills Development Lead at the College added: “In spite of Government support it has been estimated that 1/6 of businesses will not be viable once lockdown restrictions are lifted because social distancing regulations and unemployment is set to increase. It is so important that we do everything we can to equip local businesses with the tools they need. We are really looking forward to working with our community to keep our borough thriving.”

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