Not every business that works with the Growth Hub is a commercial venture.
Copeland Age and Advice Service is a community interest company, a social enterprise that uses its assets and any profits for the public good.
It provides information, advice and guidance to the over-55s in Copeland in relation to financial matters, grants and housing issues. The aim is to enable them to live safely and independently, wherever they choose.
Becky Goddard and Lesley Amor set up the venture in Cleator Moor after a similar service provided by Age UK West Cumbria closed when funding came to an end. They had worked for the service and were made redundant.
Becky, who has a degree in business management and is now the Operations Director for Copeland Age and Advice Service, explained: “Knowing that demand was very high and, having had numerous conversations with worried clients and referral agencies, we agreed that we were not prepared to let it go.
“There is a large population of over-55s in Copeland and this is only predicted to increase, meaning demand would grow and grow.”
They contacted potential partner agencies and funders, put together a detailed business plan and worked on policies, procedures and funding bids.
The hard work paid off and, with funding secured, Copeland Age and Advice Service launched on October 1, 2019.
It was during the planning stage that Becky and Lesley came across Cumbria Business Growth Hub and the Business Start-Up Support (BSUS) programme.
The package of free support includes a three-day course on starting a business, one-to-one meetings with a business adviser, training, help with a business plan and membership of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.
Becky said: “We did a lot of research online into setting up a new business, as neither of us had done anything like this before. We came across the Growth Hub, found the website useful and signed up for the BSUS.”
“Paul Crooks, our Growth Hub adviser, was fantastic. He was very knowledgeable and supportive in all areas. We learned a great deal from him.
“The three-day course was good too. We really enjoyed each day. The tutors were all so knowledgeable. There was a lot of learn but it was worthwhile and made us excited to get our business up and running.
“There is so much you have to know when running your own business. You need to be an expert in all fields. This course was an excellent starting point.”
She added: “I would highly recommend the Growth Hub to anyone wanting to start their own business. Their help and support has been invaluable.”
The business made a strong start, receiving more than 120 referrals in its first week. It continues to receive new referrals every day.
Becky said: “We have more than 1,350 followers on Facebook, have been actively fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Society, raising £3,000 in three months, and are working with Parkinson’s West Cumbria to fundraise for them.
“I am very proud of what we have achieved in a very short space of time and hope that we continue to grow and develop in the future.”
Find out how Cumbria Business Growth Hub can help your business. Call us today on 0844 257 84 50.
The funding that supports the Growth Hub comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Sellafield Ltd., Carlisle City Council, South Lakeland District Council, Penrith Industrial BID and Cumbria LEP. The Growth Hub is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The BSUS project is receiving up to £1,112,686 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information, click here.