Small businesses in Leeds to receive mentoring from support service

Leeds Council is providing one-to-one mentoring sessions for microbusinesses with less than 10 employees, alongside a 12-week virtual support programme which will launch in September.

The free service will guide retail and hospitality microbusinesses in Leeds, as the sector begins to recover from the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The service is offering one-to-one sessions over the phone with a dedicated advisor, covering topics such as marketing, finance and planning for the future, and signposting to other sources of assistance that are available when required.

The virtual support programme will consist of workshops, e-mails and a workbook, which can be accessed at any time to suit the individual business owners.

woman in blue long sleeve shirt using silver macbook

Cllr Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: ‘The economic problems caused by the pandemic have clearly been immense and it has been inspiring to see how businesspeople across Leeds have risen to the challenges of the last 17 months.

‘The council has done everything it can to stand shoulder to shoulder with local businesses – large and small – from the beginning of the crisis, with more than £285m worth of support being distributed to them.

‘It’s great that this additional assistance is being made available to some of our smallest businesses and we look forward to working alongside Insight with Passion in the coming months.’

The scheme was initially run by Leeds City Council and business transformation agency Insight with Passion between April and September last year, helping dozens of microbusinesses from a record shop and an online bakery to a street food start-up and a jewellery producer.

Last year’s scheme received positive feedback, with 100% of participants questioned saying they would consider engaging with similar services in the future.

Rachael Brereton, owner of Rebel & Rose, a handbag and gift shop in Chapel Allerton that used the service in 2020, said: ‘I can’t recommend it enough – I got friendly, straightforward advice that really was a massive help. I opened in April 2019, so my first anniversary was in lockdown and it was obviously a difficult time.

‘The support from the service was pitched just right, though – speaking to someone who was genuinely interested gave me a big boost and I came away with ideas that had a huge impact, including building a new website, which proved incredibly successful during the second lockdown.’

In related news, nearly 200 businesses have been named and fined for breaking the national minimum wage law, with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) finding that over £2m was owed to workers.

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