‘Hugely popular’ mentoring scheme opens for new intake

Norfolk and Suffolk businesses are invited to be part of a new intake of Peer Networks candidates

New Anglia Growth hub will be running a new Peer Networks scheme across Suffolk and Norfolk - Credit: BEIS

Small and medium-sized (SME) businesses across Norfolk and Suffolk are being urged to sign up to a government-backed mentoring programme.

The Peer Networks scheme — which is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) — attracted 160 local businesses from the two counties last year.

New Anglia Growth Hub — which leads the programme across Norfolk and Suffolk — is now offering the “hugely popular” programme to more than 200 eligible companies on a first-come, first-served basis between summer 2021 and spring 2022.

Growth hub manager Samantha Vinyard-Jones said they were “absolutely thrilled” to be recruiting for the second year of the national programme.

“It has been wonderful to watch the programme progress over the past year and to the impact the sessions have had on this year’s participants,” he said.

Businesses who are eligible to apply must have operated for at least a year, have at least five employees, a turnover of at least £100k and an aspiration to improve.

Participants on the first year of the scheme have given it their backing.

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First year participant Patrick Baker, of E J Baker & Sons, of Westhorpe, Stowmarket, said he would “wholeheartedly recommend” it to anyone who just has an interest in bettering themselves and improving their business.

Christopher Melsa of Ipswich-based School’s Out Activities Ltd said it helped anyone who has got day-to-day challenges and wants some guidance and someone to speak to.

“It gives you a chance to step back, re-evaluate, see where you are and where you are going. As shown with the past year, things can change so drastically quickly. So, this programme does not only help you but makes you a better businessperson for sure,” he said.

Enrolling in a programme enables participants to stay up to date with hundreds of free business support services as they are given updated information around new grants, finance assistance, upcoming events and other specialist advice.

“We are delighted to be supporting more SME business leaders across Norfolk and Suffolk and excited to see the power of the Peer Support once more,” said senior programme co-ordinator Grace Harrison. 

“For business leaders to say that they ‘no longer feel alone’ after joining the programme was an incredible testament to the programme itself and the calibre of the business consultants leading the sessions.”

“This is an incredible initiative and growth opportunity for local businesses, and I strongly advise any SMEs who are eligible to express an interest through our online form before spaces fill up.”

To find out how your business can sign up here or call 0300 333 6536.