More than 100 firms sign up for downturn boost

 Richard Wood and Cassie Bendall, co-owners of Cheddar Creative in Ipswich

Cheddar Creative co-owners Richard Wood and Cassie Bendall - Credit: Cheddar Creative

Small companies across Suffolk and Norfolk are being given expert advice to help them through the pandemic recession.

So far, 133 firms with a turnover of £100k-plus and five or more employees have signed up to get free peer mentoring as part of a national economic recovery effort delivered through New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The LEP - which is offering help to 250 companies in total - is particularly keen to target social care providers and hospitality businesses with its £1,300 Peer Networks mentoring package. The firms must be at least one year old.

They get 18 hours of dedicated mentoring in groups of eight. Experts discuss their problems with them, and offer advice and help in developing trusted support networks to bolster their businesses.

New Anglia Growth Hub manager Richard Glinn said the diverse cohort groups work collaboratively on common business issues.

"Through interactive action learning, we enable businesses to discuss their own challenges, gain and reflect on valuable feedback, and implement practical solutions to overcome them," he explained.

"Our expert consultants can help businesses to build and strengthen, improve their overall performance, and trade in the ‘new normal’. I would encourage any small business owner to consider enrolling in this programme."

Participants so far include Richard Wood, co-owner of Suffolk design agency Cheddar Creative.

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“I think the most valuable benefit of taking part in the programme was being able to swap stories with other business owners and feel like we are all in it together," he said. 

"It was good to know that the problems we are experiencing are the same as other businesses are experiencing – it’s not just us.”

Beks Houston, managing director of Norwich digital company Smash Marketing, said: "I have already recommended it to an acquaintance of mine, and I think anybody that is seriously looking to grow their business should come on to some kind of course like this because it gives you a real 360-degree view of your business."

Ben Hallinan, an consultant at Ligna Consultancy, near Newmarket,, said he would recommend the course to everyone, especially during the coronavirus crisis.

"I found it incredibly helpful to have the support of other small business owners and help from Tom, the facilitator, to work through the problems we all had," he said.

" I’m continuing to work with Tom on a one-to-one basis to help keep the momentum going.”

To enrol on the programme or to find out more,  visit here