A MONTH after The Journal joined forces with One North East to launch the Real Help for Businesses Now campaign, the number of firms calling for support and advice has increased markedly.
The awareness raising campaign, designed to signpost companies to Business Link to get help during the downturn, has seen a 20% increase in new visitors to the website and seen almost 3,500 people calling the Business Link hotline during the first fortnight of the campaign.
The Journal will continue to carry a wealth of good news stories about firms getting support to survive and grow and will also continue to feature the funds being made available by One North East and its partners to aid companies at this challenging time.
Carrying the distinctive Real Help for Businesses Now strapline, stories ranging from the management buy-out that saved Cheviot Foods in Amble to Henry Cooper Coaches in Northumberland, who used Business Link to help them find new work following the loss of a major contract, have been highlighted in the business section of The Journal each day and have successfully driven readers to the Business Link number.
One North East Chairman Margaret Fay said: "There has never been such a concerted effort by the public sector to provide vital support to businesses and people.
"One North East is investing £46m over the next two years to help them deal with the effects of the recession, in addition to our normal business support activities. "Making sure businesses know where to get this help is critical, and we have been delighted with the response to the campaign to date, and we appreciate the role The Journal has played in highlighting the support available."
Over the past two months, Business Link has also delivered health checks to more than 1,500 businesses, helping them identify issues and opportunities to help them survive.
Around 400 companies have attended the Business Link ‘Weather the Storm’ free breakfast seminars that have provided firms with advice on everything from negotiating with their bank manager to budgeting and cashflow.
Funded by One North East, there have been four workshops across the region covering issues such as employment law, legal advice and managing cash flow, and more events are planned in the future.
Alastair McColl, chief executive of Business and Enterprise North East, which operates the Business Link service in the region, said: "The Real help for Business now campaign is successfully promoting the range of practical support measures currently available to the region’s businesses during this challenging time. "It is crucial that we highlight positive results and success stories and inspire people to safeguard and develop their businesses. The campaign is highlighting crucial real support to local business and demonstrates that the North East of England is well equipped to tackle the recession and prosper when conditions improve."
A key aim of the ‘Real Help for Businesses Now’ campaign has been to raise awareness of the funding and advice available to both business and people affected by the economic downturn.
That’s why One North East, Learning and Skills Council, Business Link, Jobcentre Plus and Government Office North East are collaborating to get a clear message of support out to those who need it.
Adverts featuring the main three helpline numbers will appear at train stations around the region, as well as on buses across the North East. This will be supported by radio advertising and posters and leaflets displayed at Business Link, Jobcentre Plus and nextstep offices, as well as public places
The aim is to get a simple message of support out to businesses and individuals to give them the best chance of accessing the help they need to survive.
The contact numbers for businesses and people wanting help are:
For businesses wanting advice and to understand what help and support is available, including free business health checks, online business support and access to appropriate finance, call Business Link on 0845 600-9006 or visit www.businesslink.gov.uk/northeast
For people who are in work, but may be at risk of or worried about possible redundancy, for free, confidential face to face advice on changing jobs and updating skills, call nextsteps on 0800 027-7944 or visit www.nextstepnortheast.org.uk
For those who have been made redundant or who are out of work, for free confidential support to get back to work, update skills and help with job search, call Jobcentre Plus on 0845 606-0234 or visit www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk
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