Businesses share COVID grant lifeline

Published: 1 December 2020

Irongate looking up to cathedral


The government announced on Thursday 26th November that Derby would enter into a new Tier 3 category following the end of national restrictions on Wednesday 2nd December.

Derby City Council is therefore planning and preparing to support businesses who will be forced to remain closed and other businesses affected by Tier 3 measures. Details of how these schemes will operate will be announced as soon as possible.

In the meantime, there are two grant schemes still in operation to support our shops, restaurants, bars, hotels and many other local businesses. Details of eligibility and how to apply can be on our coronavirus business support pages.

These grants have proved a lifeline for many businesses and so we wanted to take a moment and look back and ask some of those businesses what it meant to them.

Back in June we launched our ‘top up’ grant scheme to support small businesses and charities through the coronavirus crisis and this is some of the feedback we received.

Safe and Sound are a specialist local charity supporting and protecting young people from child exploitation. The grant support from the city council has been channelled into the charity’s 121 work with boys and girls who are at risk of child exploitation which includes online grooming, sexual exploitation, County Lines, Modern Slavery and trafficking and also enabled Safe and Sound’s family support team to help these young people’s wider families with emotional and practical support

Safe and Sound chief executive Tracy Harrison said: “Our focus from the start of the pandemic was to mitigate the risks of online grooming through awareness of the importance of privacy settings and the dangers of unhealthy relationships.

“We are extremely grateful for the support from Derby City Council which has ensured we are able to support some of the most vulnerable young people and families in our local communities.”

The Sporting Joint is primarily a physiotherapy practice previously based in David Lloyd gym. They offer physiotherapy, podiatry, sports massage, sports therapy, Thai massage and reflexology services for sports and all musculoskeletal injuries.

Kate Stalker, Lead Physio and Clinic Director told us “Without the support of the grant we would not have been able to move to new premises in order to start delivering physiotherapy services again when the gyms had not reopened. We also would have struggled to pay our administrative staff who are instrumental in keeping our business going, as the admin generated in a Covid world is huge. We also invested in our virtual physiotherapy prescription platform in order to keep people going through the strictest part of the lockdown when we were not allowed to see patients. We continue to use the exercise prescription of this service to deliver first class rehabilitation programmes for patients.”

Clean360 Ltd is an SME Commercial and Industrial cleaning company providing services for Hospitality, Construction, Educational and other sectors. Just before the lockdown back in March, they activated their business continuity plan helping them to mitigate the worst of the impact of the lockdown. However, the continued impact on their clients started to reduce their business.

Jerry Uche from the company said “(The grant) helped us to maintain our business trading without staff redundancy. We were able to implement the necessary government guideline on social distancing measures.”

After lockdown Clean360 was able to grow its business and take on new employees. Jerry adds “The Grant Scheme support has contributed to the survival of our business. As it provided the support we needed and gave us the confidence to maintain our services in a difficult time when the life of our business was threatened and the jobs of our employees were at risk.”

Tim Almy, Director of Derby Counselling Centre told us “These have been and remain challenging times for all of us and whilst our charity has been offering remote support to our clients during the lockdown and beyond, we have really suffered from not being able to provide a face-to-face service, our principal source of income (and our 'raison d'etre'), but bills still have to be paid, of course, so our future had become tenuous to say the least. Derby City Council's generous grant has provided a lifeline for us, giving us breathing space to try and get back on our feet.

“The pandemic has had a major impact on people's mental health, yet a hoped-for vaccine will not mean all is right again. That's why we and other mental health services need to be there to help people to find a better way to live their lives. And that is why the Council's generosity means so much to us, in terms of, well, our very existence. It is a grant for the future and we thank them so much for it.”

Embrace U Consultancy was another business to receive a ‘top up’ grant from the Council. Melanie Waldron told us “At the time of lockdown I had only a couple of months rent in my account and didn’t really know what I was going to do, as all my contracts had been suspended as my clients belong to vulnerable groups.

“The grant has given me great peace of mind and less stress, knowing that I could continue to maintain my office space, till my contracts recommenced. It gave me the headspace to move my business on and see it grow with new business coming in, without worrying about finances.....Thank you!.”

Derby based theatre company Oddsocks Productions was preparing a national tour of Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” when the pandemic struck, and they had no choice but to cancel. Not only that, but a regular Christmas contract was cancelled too.  All other regular sources of income which the company relied upon (from school visits to corporate training work) ceased immediately. The family business, which regularly employs freelance creatives from across the Derbyshire region and beyond, turned to Derby City Council in the hope of benefitting from its Covid-19 Discretionary Fund to cover vital rental overheads in the city and were delighted and grateful to receive emergency funds amounting to £5000. 

Fi Burke told us "My art business has two strands; I make art for public exhibition in galleries and/or for sale.  When I am not doing that, I deliver creative projects in healthcare settings working with patients and families.

“Quite rightly, lockdown made working in healthcare environments prohibitive.  Opportunities for public exhibitions have also been put on hold. The grant funding alleviated the initial state of panic and has enabled me to review my practice and think of new and different approaches to reaching audiences and participants in the future. It has been a much-appreciated support through these very unstable times. Thank you.”

Trinity Warriors Dance Academy is a dance studio for children and young people who come not only to dance but to socialise with friends and like-minded people. Many of the children were left in tears when it had to close.

Leon Heywood, Co-director said “Places like ours are the only outlet most of our students have (not to mention our livelihood and our way of feeding our families).” He goes on to say that he and his business partner are “truly grateful… to have received a grant from Derby city council to help us through the tough lockdown period of March-august if it was not for this grant our business would surely be closed.”

Finally, we had a message from Sharon Mason, who had to endure the difficulties of opening and running a new business in lockdown whilst recovering from breast cancer. Sharon took over Hypnocares in January, providing a range of Hypnotherapy treatments

Sharon said “I was eager to work with a variety of clients’ going through this part of their lives.  However, life as they say often has other ideas and as we all know COVID-19 struck which meant that clients’ could not be seen at the Wendy Centre Clinic, added to this family illness, it has been for me and I know many others, an extremely difficult time.

“Like many small business owners, I fell through the net for (other) grants and did not qualify for grant assistance.  When I heard about the discretionary grant being offered, I applied to Derby City Council and to be truthful, I did not expect to receive anything. 

“I really am very grateful and cannot begin to thank Derby City Council enough. To receive this financial support at such a difficult time was amazing.  The difference that this grant made was to enable the Hypnocares Derby Clinic to stay open and I will be helping people and practising from the Wendy Centre.” 

Councillor Nicola Roulstone, Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement said:

Seeing these individual stories is really heartening and encouraging especially as we transition through from the second set of national measures to the Tier 3 measures which will likely be in place over what would be the run up to Christmas.

I am full of admiration for the perseverance, patience and ingenuity of Derby business owners and I’m hopeful that we will be able to build Derby back even stronger once we come through this awful pandemic.

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