Niche Magazine Issue 41

Page 1


January/February 2021


Leicestershire Charity Special Endorsing local heroes

Niche Business Awards Live on January 22

Business Goals in 2021

Planning a Covid-secure New Year

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o many were glad to see the back of 2020 but it certainly had a lot to teach us. Our cover story is one example of a business that has lived to tell the tale of the terrible year and what they’ve learnt from it. After their experience of the pandemic, the team at ER Recruitment has gone one step further with a rebrand. They told us their story and why they’re stepping into the spotlight this year. You can read about them on page 30. January is usually when we promise ourselves we’ll make better choices so we’ve featured a few local companies that might help you achieve some of those classic ‘New Year New Me’ goals. No pressure though – last year taught us that making personal changes is best when we feel truly ready for them. Myself and colleagues Becci and Susan decided to start making changes in October last year with business coach The Turnaround CEO Amanda Daly, which we talk about later in this issue. Our charity section has undergone some changes too. We’ve written about some local organisations and what they’re most in need of after the turbulence of last year. As well, providing a much-needed dose of celebration, the Charity of the Year winner of the Niche Business Awards 2020 will receive all proceeds from ticket sales for the virtual ceremony taking place on January 22. The sponsors and ambassadors have come together this issue discussing what success means to them as we head into a new year. Another celebration was had when the New Year Honours list was released, which included 22 people from Leicestershire and Rutland. A huge congratulations to Glynis Wright MBE, who is a previous Niche Business Awards winner, and to all those recognised. Talks of tiers, vaccines, new coronavirus strains, and another national lockdown have made the last part of 2020 quite the rollercoaster. We continued to gather advice and information from local experts with a mission to remain a source of stability for our readers. While we can’t be sure what lies ahead, we hope this issue equips you with some form of encouragement and guidance as you step into 2021.

Contents JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2021

Cover Image ER Recruitment photographed at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium Photographed by Hitz Rao at Hitz Rao Photography 0116 246 0475


Examining team ER’s DNA


Could this be the formula for success?


Heart-centred transformations

46 Grammar: when to break the rules 46

Mindfulness in the everyday


The toxicity of bad employees

48 5 questions to refine your books 48

What not to do in 2021

NICHE BUSINESS AWARDS 2020 50 Headline Sponsor Assured Energy 51

Employer of the Year sponsor BP Legal


Innovation in Business sponsor ER Recruitment

53 Family Business sponsor Everards 54

Digital Business of the Year sponsor Growth Partners


Best New Business sponsor Hollingsworths Solicitors


Ambassador Glynis Wright of Nelsons


Best Customer Service sponsor Kazzoo

69 Ambassador Golden Media Group

57 Best Small Business sponsor Leicester Castle Business School

70 Ambassador Incite Consulting 71

Ambassador It’seeze


Business Growth sponsor Lettings and Sales Business


Ambassador Nico Properties


Professional Services sponsor The Miller Partnership


Ambassador PPL PRS


Charity of the Year sponsor Morningside Pharmaceuticals


Businesswoman of the Year sponsor Paradigm Wills and Legal Services


Businessman of the Year sponsor Pattersons Commercial Law


Rising Star sponsor The Turnaround CEO

106 The Charity Link business club


Educational Excellence sponsor Torr Waterfield

107 A safe space for young people


Ambassador ADT Taxis


Ambassador Armstrongs Wealth Planning


Change for BAME communities


Ambassador Begbies Traynor


Helping organisations access funding

74 Ambassador Paragon Sales Solutions 75

Ambassador She Inspires


Ambassador Unity

CHARITY SPECIAL 104 Seeking new partnerships for Menphys 105 Helping Hope


The new finance service for athletes


Money Talks: divorce with Justine Flack




Divorce, wills, and conveyancing advice


What to do after separating from your partner


The changes to working patterns in 2021



32 The shape of 2020 and TheMusicLicence


109 The increased demand for homelessness services


How one marketing apprentice soared to success


Swapping world travel for charity close to home


Breaking barriers with visual media


Domestic and financial hardships after Covid


Keeping visible in print


Working collaboratively


Leicestershire Community Champions Awards


The healthy living programme

113 A light in the dark for the homeless


A Leicester footballing inspiration and his dad



Hypno and psychotherapy

A tribute to Tracey


Leadership in a new era


Evolution of the workspace


Feeling the slump of working from home?


Why your employees need first aid training

COMMUNICATING THROUGH MARKETING 77 The latest graphic design trends



Coaching for Niche’s team leaders


Can you dismiss with compassion?


Working to learn, not to earn


Facing the music industry with City Business Library


How outsourcing can save you money


Why the board room is vital this year


Bringing nature into the home


The difference between freehold and leasehold


Senior promotion at law firm


The situation for mortgage hunters after 2020


New President for East Midlands Chamber


Gaining a mortgage when you’re self-employed

09 M&S donates food for the homeless


Expensive interior design mistakes


Everards Meadows’ recruitment drive



What’s on in Leicester


Covid and Brexit tax implications What business people really think of Brexit EU transition funding support for Leicester businesses


Saying it with signs



Understanding your customers





The flames that make the fire at Orton’s Brasserie

MOTOR 100 Steering into a new year 100 Making an entrance 101

The Dream Car consultants

102 Reviewed: Toyota Supra


New East Midlands Chamber President inducted at virtual annual general meeting

Senior promotion announced at Leicester law firm Law firm Nelsons has promoted one of its wills and probate specialist solicitors to the position of legal director. Nadia Faki, who joined Nelsons as an associate in 2017, specialises in will drafting, inheritance tax planning, administration of estates and powers of attorney. She said: “I joined Nelsons to enhance my career to the next level while gaining more knowledge and experience. As a senior associate, my role has involved providing a great service to my clients, ensuring they are happy and supporting them through very difficult times. “In my new position as legal director, I will focus on building an incredible team in the Leicester office. I am also excited for the opportunity to focus more on business development, building relationships and networking with other professionals.” Nadia is one of six people to be promoted to the new legal director role at Nelsons. Stewart Vandermark, chief executive at Nelsons, said: “Legal director is a new senior role we have introduced, which bridges the gap between senior associate and partner and recognises individuals with excellent expertise in their field. “Nadia’s contribution during her three years at the firm has been terrific and demonstrates the pedigree of our team to flourish in their specialist area. I am delighted to congratulate Nadia on her fully deserving promotion to legal director and look forward to seeing her further develop our expert wills and probate team.” 08 | NICHE

A businesswoman who received royal recognition for promoting female entrepreneurship has been inducted as the new president of East Midlands Chamber. Eileen Richards MBE, founder and managing director of ER Recruitment in Leicester, took over the chains of office from Dawn Edwards at the Chamber’s annual general meeting, which was held virtually for the first time on Friday, December 11. She is the co-founder of the Chamber’s Enterprising Women network, which will mark its 25th year in 2022. In her first speech as president, Eileen set out three priorities for the year ahead – to encourage inter-membership relations and trading; support the region’s future business leaders; and lobby hard in Government for investment to aid the East Midlands’ post-Covid economic recovery. Eileen, who has been a board member for more than three years and was vice-president in 2020, said: “The Chamber plays a huge role in the region and it’s an organisation I’ve worked with pretty much the entire time I have been in business. “I have experienced first-hand the excellent range of services available to members, and have witnessed the incredible talent and experience we have on our board – not least from Dawn, who has done such a fantastic job in difficult circumstances as president. “I feel really honoured to become president for 2021 as it’s a fantastic accolade that comes with great responsibility. “I’ll carry out the role of president like I run my business – the members will be at the heart of everything we do, just like people are in recruitment. “I might not be able to solve the economic recovery all on my own but I’d like to get some great individuals and businesses together within our membership to make a difference. “Hopefully, in 12 months’ time, people can see what we’ve achieved.” East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles added: “Eileen is dedicated to supporting the Chamber and its members as they navigate post-pandemic and post-Brexit – two of the greatest challenges to the UK economy happening simultaneously. “She is already a leading voice in the business community and her role as president of the Chamber will give her the platform to showcase what she is passionate about – the amazing business community we have here in the East Midlands. “I look forward to working very closely with Eileen in what will prove to be an interesting year for business.”

M&S Food donates £10,000 to Leicester charity Help The Homeless M&S Food donated £10,000 to Leicester based charity Help the Homeless in recognition of the volunteering efforts of local M&S employee Kyle Palmer, as part of an overall £2m donation to good causes for its special Christmas campaign. Kyle Palmer, Customer Assistant at M&S Fosse Park, was chosen by M&S Food for his dedication to Help the Homeless Leicester and the £10,000 donation has gone towards providing food parcels to people in Leicester shielding or self-isolating during the pandemic. The donation will also help the charity source new accommodation for homeless people and reduce the amount of homeless people living on the streets. Over the last two years, the charity has helped 120 homeless people across Leicester find a new home. Kyle has previously worked closely with Help the Homeless Leicester, volunteering during the

festive season to provide food parcels and gloves to keep homeless people fed and warm over Christmas. More recently, as part of his volunteering work, Kyle spent a night sleeping on the streets in Leicester to get a true feeling of how difficult the conditions are for homeless people in the city. Kyle said: “I am thrilled to have been chosen by M&S Food to donate £10,000 to my chosen charity. At M&S we’re proud of the role we play in our local community and it’s fantastic we can donate a monumental amount, especially during these unprecedented times. The year 2020 has been a difficult year for all of us and we are thrilled to support our brilliant charity partner Help the Homeless Leicester who help people living on the streets return to their community and rebuild their lives.” Arif Voraji, Founder of Help the Homeless Leicester, commented: “Local charities are coming under

immense pressure and need support now more than ever during these times. This generous donation from M&S is essential for us to support our community by providing as many food parcels as possible to those in need, from people living on the streets to those self-isolating or shielding due to Covid-19. It’s incredible to see the phenomenal support given to us by Kyle Palmer and the whole team M&S Fosse Park.” Andrew Aveyard, Store Manager at M&S Fosse Park added: “We are very proud of the fantastic charity work Kyle has done over the years, and I am thrilled M&S Food has chosen to donate £10,000 to Help the Homeless. The work Help the Homeless does in our local community is incredibly important and we are delighted to have been able to support them during these times.”

Everards Meadows is recruiting Family business Everards is recruiting 40 people for their new state-of-the-art brewery, beer hall and shop at Everards Meadows, opposite Fosse Park. Working exclusively with ER Recruitment, the recruitment campaign is now underway, with a variety of roles available such as chefs, brewery tour guides, bar staff, and brewers. Everards has opened the meadows up for public use by creating shared pedestrian and cycle pathways as well as installing a new bridge over the River Soar to connect the site to the Great Central Way, meaning people can travel

from locally and beyond following Route 6 of the National Cycle Network. Richard Everard OBE DL, Chairman, said: “This really is an exciting time for us and the beginning of a brand-new chapter in our 170-year history. We are still an independent family business with strong roots in Leicestershire and we are about to move into the sixth generation of the family leading the business as we commence this exciting next chapter.” All available roles can be found at at NICHE | 09


Moving Forward Leicester City Centre Director Sarah Harrsion reviews the latest news and events happening in the city for the year ahead


ollowing a tumultuous year, City Centre Director Sarah Harrison reveals the latest exciting developments that will be taking place across Leicester this year, sharing an optimistic outlook for the future that aims to put the altogether negative year of 2020 firmly behind us.


The £5m expansion to Dock is already 50% pre-let and will welcome its first tenants in February 2021. Leicester City Council is working with local firm Brackley Property Developments Ltd to build the new commercial space. The new building will offer office accommodation and light industrial workspace in 16 individual units ranging in size from 800 sq ft to 1,800 sq ft. Businesses based in the new building will benefit from Dock’s full range of facilities including reception services, meeting and conference facilities, fast IT and access to networks and events. Given the site’s location within the city’s Enterprise Zone, generous business rates benefits will also apply. Any businesses interested in discussing workspace availability should contact Luke Pulford at or call 0116 225 7900.


LEICESTER STORIES GALLERY – LEICESTER MUSEUMS & GALLERIES A new Leicester Stories Gallery will be created at Leicester Museum and Gallery – with the people of Leicester, for the people of Leicester. The project is scheduled to open in March 2022 and is funded by Arts Council England through its National Portfolio Organisation scheme. The Leicester Stories Gallery will be exploring the challenges and achievements of the people and the city over the last 50+ years. With the help of community co-producers and community co-curators, Leicester Museums & Galleries will be selecting contemporary objects that can help tell the stories and experiences of the communities in the city that make Leicester such a vibrant and diverse city.

Developers Aimrok Holdings are investing £17m to convert the historic former Fenwick building into a 121-bedroom aparthotel and four new ground floor and basement commercial units totalling nearly 11,000 sq ft. In addition, nearly 12,000 sq ft of flexible business workspace will be available under a newly signed 25-year lease with Leicester City Council. To enquire about workspace contact or call 0116 225 7900. The building will revert to its original name, ‘The Gresham’, in a nod to the architectural heritage of this local landmark. Construction work is well underway with The Gresham due to open in late 2021. For enquiries about the commercial and retail space available, please contact Mark Copson 10 | NICHE


A Graffwerk collaboration with Leicester City Council features international artists JOBER and POES alongside local artist Rich Peacock, who have been working together to paint the Burleys Way flyover. The artwork incorporates numerous iconic Leicester landmarks within ‘tree cities’ with a playful take on the seasons. This artwork brings a brightness to a key gateway to the city as part of the Belgrave Gate development.


Leicester City Council is planning to completely rebuild the existing St Margaret’s Bus Station and revamp surrounding streets as part of a major scheme to regenerate this part of the city centre. The bus station closed on December 31, 2020. The proposed £13.5m scheme has been awarded £10.5m from the government’s Getting Building Fund, as part of a £20m allocation received by Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP). A series of energy efficiency and renewable energy measures will help make the new bus station a carbon neutral building. It is believed that this would be the first bus station to be built to net zero carbon standards in the UK. Bus passengers will benefit from a completely redesigned and improved internal layout with a new café, better seating and real time digital passenger information. There will also be increased capacity for national and regional bus services, with the number of bays increased from 18 to 24. Electric bus charging points will be installed, and the new building will feature secure storage for up to 150 bikes. The new bus station is due to open late Spring 2022. Encouraging more people to use sustainable transport and cutting the carbon footprint of the city’s buildings are key actions resulting from the first Leicester Climate Emergency Strategy. To find out more visit

Wednesday February 3 – Sunday February 21, 2021. The festival will be back for its 28th anniversary! Since 1994 the festival has welcomed over 5,874 performers and contributed £45m to the local economy. Of course, things in February 2021 may be slightly different to what we have been used to, but there is a brilliant festival lined up as well as regular exclusive events such as The UK Pun Championships and the Beyond A Joke seminar series. New features for 2021 include online shows, a brilliant line up of podcasts, and loads more.


This year sees the return of biennial street art festival Bring The Paint. This city-wide event sees a mix of live artwork, large scale murals, exhibitions, and streetbased music, breakdancing, skateboarding and BMX displays and next year’s line-up is set to raise the bar even higher. Prior to the Bring The Paint festival weekend in May, organisers Graffwerk will showcase a UK graffiti art retrospective. This immersive exhibition will chart the history of UK street art and was developed in partnership with digital storytellers MDB. Opening at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery in the spring, expect an exciting and atmospheric journey charting the history of UK street art.


Work is underway on the first stage of an ambitious project to transform the site of Leicester’s biggest Roman ruins into a world-class visitor centre. Jewry Wall Museum, which opened in 1966, is home to one of the UK’s tallest civilian Roman structures, along with the impressive remains of a Roman bathhouse. The first phase will see the creation of a new walkway to provide level access to the former Vaughan College entrance from St Nicholas Circle along with refurbishment of the windows and roof, and the construction of a new entrance and rear lobby. Meanwhile work is continuing with Leicester-based Haley Sharpe Design on how the interior of the new museum will look. Technology will be used to breathe life into the stories of citizens from Roman Leicester – which was known as Ratae Corielavorum – giving visitors the chance to find out what life in the city would have been like nearly 2,000 years ago. The displays will also feature items from the city’s museum collections, including treasures which survived for many years buried under Leicester’s streets and buildings before being rediscovered through archaeological investigations.


The recent extension of the city centre pedestrian zone to include Church Gate, Haymarket and Belgrave Gate has provided the opportunity to enhance the area around the Clock Tower. The area is being repaved in a natural stone paving material called Porphyry which is imported from Italy. The completed work will extend from High Street through to Gallowtree Gate, Humberstone Gate, Church Gate and East Gates and is due to be complete in Autumn 2021. NICHE | 11

Driving economic recovery Industry experts share their knowledge to help the businesses of Leicestershire pull through the effects of the pandemic Our Columnists

Owner of The Turnaround CEO


Revealing the latest views, opinions and insider information, professionals and experts in their fields cover the current subjects on the minds of local businesses and consumers during and post-pandemic. A second lockdown meant Leicester fell behind in the recuperation of its economy. But our county found a king in a car park and our city beat 5,000/1 odds to win the Premier League, so our columnists are confident that communities can join forces to drive Leicester’s economic recovery. They provide thought-provoking, informative and inspiring commentary in a bid to support business leaders, assist the restart of companies across the county, and provide encouragement to those struggling to find their way.

Finding your Glinda, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion

he sparkling, ruby slippers worn by Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz represent the magical belief that with three clicks of the heels, you can turn your wish into reality. It is amazing how powerful your mind becomes when you have clear focus on what you want to believe to come true. Going into 2021, what can your sparkling, ruby slippers deliver? Everyone can create their own goals (which many of us set in the excitement of a new year) and new opportunities, but how are you going to make the difference to leverage your actions to create the results that differ from previous years? 12 | NICHE

Have something on your mind? Write in to us to request a topic of discussion via

The difference with Dorothy is, when times got tough, she chose to ask others for help. Her greatest strength came from those who she surrounded herself with, those that gave her belief, courage and confidence to keep going. Dorothy’s dream was to return home to Kansas. She was clear what she wanted throughout, even with all of the setbacks and obstacles encountered, she kept faith. How different would your year be if you could free yourself of limitations and find your own unique yellow brick road and an ally with all heart, brain and courage? All three wrapped together will provide you with the support, accountability and drive to make a journey into the unknown more bearable. Going forward, how clear are you on where your magical path will go? What do you want and how do you measure performance? Dorothy aimed for the Emerald City. Where is your destination? If the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion were your team, how as a leader would you motivate and inspire? Everyone at times needs the help and support of others. Dorothy without Glinda, (The Good Witch of the South) would never have had the tenacity or vision to see what lies beyond. To help you reach your goals, who can you rely on as your ‘Glinda’, to give you that added help, magic, and sparkle to really get those ruby slippers working for you?

Financial Planner, Brewin Dolphin


Personal finance for business owners

Partner, The Miller Partnership


he year of 2020 was a difficult one and as we start 2021, most business owners will need to consider the effect the Covid crisis has impacted on themselves as much as it has on their business. I often see that the personal finances of successful business owners are sometimes neglected and that what may be good for the business may not be good for the owner. As a matter of course, businesses will undertake some cashflow analysis at the start of their trading year. However, this is an important exercise to undertake for one’s personal finances too, and to extend the forecasting to consider exiting the business or retirement. There will undoubtedly be many assumptions to consider, but engaging in this subject can often be rewarding and provide some peace of mind, or at least an early indicator that some actions need to be undertaken to improve any potential outcome. Pension contributions remain an efficient way for business owners to provide for their future by making

Selling your business in 2021/22?

efore Covid-19 struck, you might have been looking to sell your successful business in the not too distant future. Understandably, the global pandemic may have since led you to rethink this plan, but don’t give up – selling might still be a workable option. We’re in a buyers’ market now, rather than a sellers’, but 2021/22 still might be a good time to sell. Coming through the economic crisis has shown just how adaptable some businesses can be – with sectors such as IT services, food delivery and courier services positively thriving. Before you put your business on the market though, it’s more important than ever that you seek sound professional taxation advice. Look at the tax implications and ensure that you only pay capital gains tax (CGT) at the special capital gains tax rate of 10% (now called business asset disposal relief or BAD relief). If your buyer is paying you cash from the outset, then the

contributions from the company. Pension contributions from an employer should qualify for corporation tax relief and the payment into a pension does not trigger any income tax or national insurance payment up to the annual permitted allowance. Funds within pensions grow free of capital gains tax and upon death the remaining funds can normally be passed free of inheritance tax, too. Pensions are complex and advice should be sought, but do not let the complexity put you off what is often very sensible financial planning. We all suffer from multiple direct debits appearing on our bank statements, sometimes with unrecognisable names that cause us to forget the original purpose. Insurance policies can often run for very long periods of time without being reviewed. I would suggest this is an optimum time to look at all those direct debits and consider whether these still meet your current requirements. A good insurance broker may be able to assist on your general insurance, too.

tax position should be fairly straightforward. As a rule, capital gains tax is payable on January 31 after the next April 5 (so January 31, 2022 for transactions completed on or before April 5, 2021) and you’ll need to make sure that you have the money available to pay the January 31 tax bill. In many cases, however, a large part of the disposal price is paid over a period of several years, especially if you are selling to a management team (a management buy-out) or perhaps to your children. So, you won’t receive the full sales price from day one and you’ll need to understand the tax implications of such a structured disposal. If your buyer is giving you part of the sale price in loan notes or shares, CGT liability usually only arises when the notes are redeemed or the shares sold. But to be sure that their redemption or sale qualifies for the 10% CGT rate, you must have at least 5% of the shares in the buyer company and you will need to be a director or employee. If not, you might need to think carefully about the structure of the transaction and the timing of your tax payments. Also, disposals – which typically used to take a year to complete – are taking longer now, so if you want to sell your business in 2021/22, start marketing it as soon as possible and begin preparing for due diligence. NICHE | 13

Corporate and banking partner at Nelsons


Signing documents in a pandemic

s a result of the global pandemic, there has been an increase in the demand for greater flexibility and virtual arrangements. Government advice and restrictions have highlighted the drawbacks of traditional ‘wet ink’ signatures being applied to legal agreements. Since the Electronic Communications Act in 2000, electronic signature has been valid in England for most agreements. The legal definition of electronic signatures is broad and covers most electronic arrangements that replace a handwritten signature. Prior to the pandemic, electronic signatures did not meet 14 | NICHE

HR Director, Affinity HRM

always find that Christmas gives me an opportunity to reflect on the last year, what has worked well and what we need to do to drive our business forward. The benefit of carrying out a reflection is that I can assess whether the key performance indicators I set myself last year were correct, achievable and realistic. Were they met? This, in turn, helps me to advise my clients from a commercial and legal perspective because more often than not, businesses just need some guidance on everyday practical matters. As the economic climate changes and we move past the events of 2020, it’s important to consider the impact on your business (not only financial, but also what you need to do next to drive it forward). If you can understand the impact, it will help you to assess what you’re going to do next. You may have heard the saying ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’. But I believe change can be good and making small marginal changes can have a huge lasting impact. You can gradually make improvements and move forward without it seeming too challenging. If you get too comfortable, you might find your competitors overtake you or you become complacent and lose the love for your business. Instead, push yourself, your team and your business out of the comfort zone and drive your business forward. It will help massively to talk to your clients and customers. Ask them what has worked well and what they feel they are likely to need over the next 12 months – it will help you plan ahead and anticipate the changes you may need to make in the future. What’s your 2021 change going to be? How are you driving your business forward?


Director, Pattersons Commercial Law


On reflection

How to have difficult conversations remotely with your team

hen managing a virtual team, you will, unfortunately, have to deal with issues from time to time such as team conflicts, performance issues, or even more sensitive conversations, and working remotely doesn’t make them any easier. The worst you can do is avoid having these difficult conversations, as issues will just bubble up. Many leaders are now trying to figure out how to have a challenging discussion when you can’t sit across the desk from someone. So, although your approach is going to be slightly different when you work remotely, it doesn’t have to be harder when you’re equipped with the right skills. You will need to focus more on communicating effectively with your team. If you have to have a challenging conversation virtually, here are several things you can do. ◆ When a situation is emotionally challenging, visual contact is even more important, so use video calling for your conversation. Facial expressions are powerful at conveying feelings and can support the tone of the conversation.

the lawful requirements for certain documents to be filed at HM Land Registry and Companies House. Although, since Covid-19, the government has introduced temporary measures to accept electronic signatures for certain documents. However, some legal agreements are entered into as deeds. Whilst deeds can be validly executed using electronic signatures, there are additional requirements for the valid execution of a deed. These include: ◆ They must be executed in the presence of an independent witness (eg the witness cannot be a person related or connected to the individual that is signing and the witness should not have any commercial interest in the deed). ◆ The witness must be over the age of 18. ◆ The witness must also sign the deed to confirm she/he has witnessed its execution. The Law Commission has stated that where a document is required to be signed in the presence of a witness, the witness has to be in the actual presence of the signatory and watch them sign it. The witness cannot watch the signatory sign via virtual means such as Zoom or WhatsApp. Whilst temporary measures have been introduced by the UK Government to help alleviate the problems with ‘wet ink’ signatures during the pandemic, the position hasn’t changed for the execution of deeds which appears to have become more difficult with the current stay at home or lockdown measures.

Having difficult conversations is hard to do successfully under the best of circumstances. When you have to conduct one virtually, extra preparation can go a long way toward making the interaction feel more like it would if you were in the same place at the same time. As a leader, ask yourself these key questions: ◆ What is the biggest challenge for you with having difficult conversations? ◆ What can you do differently to prepare for challenging conversations? ◆ What steps could you take to make having a difficult conversation remotely better for you and the other person?

Director, 2XL Commercial Finance


Now, what difficult conversation do you need to have?

Senior Lecturer in Enterprise Development, DMU


Create a distraction-free environment, so you can really focus on having an effective conversation. ◆ Pick a mutually convenient time. The end of a long and stressful week is probably not the best time to have a heartfelt chat that could result in hard feelings. Agree on a time, so they aren’t blindsided by this. ◆ Prepare to confront tough issues with compassion. Clearly explain the issue and provide examples, describe the impact of the issue, talk through a solution, and agree on some clear actions. ◆ Arrange a follow-up. It’s a big mistake many of us have made: to breathe a sigh of relief after this awkward and difficult conversation is over and then assume it’s all taken care of going forward. You’re not done yet! The next step is to follow up to discuss whether things are improving or if there’s a need for more support. ◆

Navigating the new norm

hat can we learn from personal branding and can it help navigate through the new norm when promoting ourselves and businesses? With customers demanding more transparency from businesses and how we find and understand information about the companies we purchase from, developing and building a personal brand helps you stand out from the crowd in this everchanging competitive world. For example, you might want to Google: ‘Jenny Cross CEO of Niche’. You will not only find out about Jenny’s role at Niche but everything else that Jenny is involved in. This helps build up a comprehensive picture of Jenny’s background, skills, and knowledge and about Jenny as a person. Most people do business with people they like. Personal branding helps with building those relationships. Building a personal brand is an opportunity for you to demonstrate what you know and how you know it, which will help you stand out from those in the market that are looking for the same opportunities as you are. It’s a competitive world we work in today, whether you are looking for a job, starting a freelance career, or setting up a business. Personal branding can set you aside from the competition and can lead you to various opportunities such as networking, collaborations, jobs, partnerships, commissions, or simply winning more customers. Personal branding is a great way of marketing you and your company without utilising the more traditional marketing or advertising strategies. So, whether you are applying for a new job, setting up a business, or pitching for that new freelance contract, developing a personal brand can demonstrate to those potential employers or partners just how hard you have worked to install trust in you and that you are the perfect person to do business with.

Out of adversity comes opportunity

ou may think this is a strange thing to say, given the times that we are in and the mantra that ‘we are all in this together,’ but the truth of the matter is that not all businesses and industries feel the same pain during economic downturns. Some businesses even benefit as people cut back and substitute products and other competing options. Many of the businesses that do well during recessions either provide goods and services that increase in demand directly due to recession conditions, or they innovate during this time.

Some offer cheaper alternatives to luxuries or big ticket purchases, or for which demand is relatively inflexible to changes in incomes. So, what opportunities might be out there for you and your business that may not at first glance be obvious? ◆ Recruitment – with an expected spike in unemployment, this will mean more talent becoming available and a chance to gain that key appointment for your business. ◆ Purchase a competitor – many business owners may feel that with a bumpy road ahead, it might be time to sell and get out. I know during the last recession that over 40% of commercial brokers either retired or sold, which left more clients for the rest of us. This will be the case in many other industries too… maybe now is the time to acquire? ◆ New premises – ‘don’t be daft,’ you may say, ‘everyone is moving to homeworking.’ That may well be the case, but with people who actually need a commercial space such as an office or industrial unit, then with many people moving to homeworking, this might be the time to catch a real bargain as more commercial space will come to the market, meaning that dream office or commercial space may well be in reach. The trick is making sure that you and your business are ready and that you attempt to be on the right side – opportunity or adversity? NICHE | 15

CEO, e-Bate Limited


Technology and its impact on wellbeing

hilst over the years we have seen a massive uptake in the use of technology for both work and social activates, what is the impact on our wellbeing? As the digital transformation changed the face of relationship building, social interaction is now largely through various means of technology. Nowadays, technology brings the world together at our fingertips, and any social, familial, or romantic relationship, both new and old, is a click away. Technology also helps establish a community of people with shared interests and preferences easily and can greatly 16 | NICHE

Managing Director, PPL PRS Ltd

ave you looked? Have you planned? Have you projected? More than ever, basic financial forecasting is required to help businesses come out of the other side of the pandemic. Unfortunately for some businesses, it is as basic as, ‘how much longer will the cash last?’ Whereas for others it is, ‘we are flying, do we need investment to fulfil demand?’ There are many different ways to forecast and these can become extremely complex. But as a business owner it is important to find a method that works for you. Something you can quickly input and interpret to give you comfort that you are on the right lines and support your decision making process. The most basic is ‘money in, money out’. When do you expect receipts to land from customers and when you do have to pay money out? If money out is more than money in then you may have a problem… but at least you know in advance and can take steps to address it. As mentioned in previous articles, think about what you may have kicked down the road earlier, that deferred VAT payment, your capital repayments on any loans, etc. Forecasting doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to give you the information required to make the important decisions facing business owners day in day out i.e. to invest in new machinery, to launch a new product line, to employ a new team member. If you can feed the financial impacts of these decisions into a simple model, then at least you know from a financial point of view whether it is a yes or no.


Partner, Charnwood Accountants


What will 2021 Bring for your business?

Changing the tempo

s the country is still subject to serious social restrictions and many people are being advised to work from home where they can, we are looking back over the last eight months and how the transition from office to home working was managed by our teams. On March 23, when the announcement came from Westminster that all non-essential businesses should close, and if you could work from home you should, our executive management team were faced with the prospect of suddenly having to move our whole business function from a large, busy office to home working, including a vital customer service team. Of course, at this time, businesses across the country were also being faced with the same issues, and also with government-imposed closures and restrictions, this meant that a large proportion of our customers were unable to use music in their business. This in turn meant the calls coming into our customer service team increased, as owners and managers looked at how they could save money and reduce their outgoings in this uncertain and unprecedented time. During the first two weeks of lockdown, we received over 20% more calls than normal. Our teams

improve an individual’s sense of self. Experts have found that, in addition to making our lives more convenient, there’s a negative side to technology – it can be addictive, and it can hurt our communication skills. Extended screen time can result in health ramifications like insomnia, eyestrain, and increased anxiety and depression. Do you review your own and your team’s use of technology to ensure they are not losing sleep or skipping physical activities due to technology use? Is it causing you stress or anxiety, or have you noticed physical side effects, such as tension headaches, eye strain, or muscle pain? Over-usage of technology damages the brain system’s connecting emotional processing, attention and decisionmaking. A new study links anxiety, severe depression, suicide attempts and suicide with the rise in use of smartphones, tablets and other devices. I have recognised my own increased use of tech and the negative impact during Covid-19. Here are my five tips on how to reduce your usage: 1. Choose outdoor activities over technology. 2. When you’re at home, make it a rule that you can’t be online after 7pm. 3. Limit social media use and turn off notifications. 4. Find alternatives to technology. 5. Take regular breaks away from all tech – get active instead.

Director at Eileen Richards Recruitment


he start of the new year calls for businesses to stand tall against the pressures of Covid-19. As trading conditions continue to push businesses to their knees, viable companies are rapidly adapting and working resiliently to cope with a diminishing customer base and growing economic tension. As 2021 represents a new slate marked by the shadows of the coronavirus pandemic, gearing your business for uncertainty can only help it thrive and overcome unprecedented challenges. The pandemic has put the viability of businesses rigorously to the test, as trading pressures suffocate lifelines and threaten supply chains. Evaluate the impact on your business and put measures in place to heal the wound. By putting our return to work checklist in motion to stress-test your finances and review your operational structure, you can determine if your business requires restructuring support to survive the unpredictable year ahead. Survival of the fittest Make a courtesy call to suppliers to inform them of your reopening and take this opportunity to ask if Covid-19 has led to greater demand, service delays, or adversely impacted their financial health. Ask your accountant if the coronavirus lockdown has impacted company cashflow and your balance sheet. If your business is on the sidelines and requires urgent support to survive, the time to act is now. Review your finance facilities, including government-backed Covid-19 loans and the implications of the tapered furlough scheme to plan your longterm workforce commitments. If your business requires restructuring to maximise chances of survival, this is your cue to seek external support from a licensed insolvency practitioner.

Collaboration and retention

t’s a new year, which for most is a time where goals are set or realigned, challenges are created for ourselves, and reflection takes place on what could have been done differently last year to achieve better results. However, unlike the usual “new year, new me” approach, the majority of individuals and businesses are heading into 2021 after facing one of the most difficult years personally, professionally, and economically and therefore have changed their mindsets and priorities for the year ahead. Whilst the main focus for employers is to get the economy

Partner, Begbies Traynor


recognised that our customers would be affected by the lockdown, and ensuring we were as sympathetic and understanding as we could be was extremely important to us. Those first few weeks of lockdown were stressful to business owners and managers, so being able to manage our call volumes and response times successfully was imperative. Working with our IT partners, CanCom, we quickly mapped out the logistics of ensuring everyone in the business had the equipment they needed to do their jobs as efficiently and seamlessly as possible. This transition proved to be so successful that CanCom created a case study from the work they did with us, to show how collaboration and forward-thinking helped to ensure our customer service provision was not affected by a lockdown, and also built a strong and trustworthy relationship for the future. Whilst we had already been thinking of how flexible working could be part of our corporate landscape in the future, the arrival of Covid-19 brought that plan to fruition almost overnight. With a workforce of over 250 people and over 400,000 customers to manage, this task was not an easy one. The future of business now looks very different from how it looked 12 months ago. Flexible, home working is now a very real option for many companies, which also opens up a large pool of talented prospective employees who may have not been available due to their geographic constraints or family commitments. Being able to offer this to an employee, along with the other fantastic benefits and culture we provide, is another step in the right direction to making us an employer of choice. We hope to welcome our employees back into the office again soon; working from home doesn’t suit everyone. However, we now know that we are prepared for – and can successfully manage – any further lockdowns should they become necessary.

Open for business: Covid-19 return to work checklist

back on track by supporting local and getting business back up and running, some employees may not share the same passion to return to ‘business as usual’. As leaders in recruitment, we are fortunate to gain insight into both clients’ and candidates’ perspectives, and whilst a significant number of them are keen to get back to some kind of normality, others are reluctant. For businesses, this is challenging, as whilst the requirement of being risk-aware for teams and customers is becoming increasingly essential, it is important businesses and employees are adopting a flexible attitude to drive them forward. After what has been a difficult year, it is crucial that as we move forwards and closer towards a cure as businesses and individuals we are literally ‘checking ourselves out’ before returning to work, seeking new employment, or hiring employees. Do your objectives align with the organisation’s objectives? Does your existing team share the same values and end goal? The answers to these questions will shape how, both as a business and a professional, you will move forward within 2021. Many things have kept us all going over the last few months: technology, community, and resilience to name a few, but it is the passion of employees and significance of having the right people around you that will determine the foundations of the new year ahead. NICHE | 17

he strain of a separation or divorce on every family member is always huge, but after not one but three lockdowns in the last year, the number of divorce applications, child disputes and domestic violence incidents has rocketed. In many cases, children at home are witnessing this fall out. It is vital that they are protected from the impact of their parents’ dispute, but during the pandemic, this has proven very difficult indeed for many parents who have been tested to their limits. In divorce and separation cases, it is a well established principle of the UK legal system that children must be put first in all considerations. In divorce cases where the court is being asked to consider dividing assets, the first consideration is the needs of any children that are under 18. The welfare of the child is also the court’s most important consideration also in cases where arrangements for children are in dispute, with the wishes and feelings of the child taken into account wherever possible, in light of their age and understanding. Legal cases involving children are supposed to be dealt with quickly, as it is recognised that a delay in deciding the outcome can be harmful to the child. Unfortunately, our court system is overburdened with disputes over children, and with legal aid largely withdrawn for the majority of people (except for those cases involving domestic violence), there are more parents resorting to representing themselves. They attempt to find their own way through the legal system and this, combined with the delays resulting from the pandemic, are causing a huge backlog in our family justice system. So, what is the answer? The use of mediation as an alternative to court proceedings should be considered by parents in breakup. It offers an opportunity to discuss difficult issues without children being present, and mediators will take care to ensure that they discuss with their clients the need to return to their living arrangements (if they are in the process of separating) with an intention not to expose the 18 | NICHE

Chief Executive, VAL

KEVIN LILES Partner at Nelsons Solicitors


Protecting children from the impact of family breakup in lockdown

Bringing businesses and charities together for mutual benefit

orporate Social Responsibility (CSR) refers to some of the ways in which private sector organisations can improve society and contribute towards sustainable development. It’s a type of self-regulatory business plan with initiatives focusing on achieving economic, social, and environmental benefits for everyone involved. CSR encourages businesses to run their companies in an ethical manner and work towards having a more positive impact on society through ensuring sustainable growth. For businesses, connecting with charities is attractive and many have an appetite to support them, through fundraising, one-off financial help or offering expertise and resources for free. But how do you know which charity to support? As a local business, it is important to understand your values, relate to your business’s vision, and identify a local charity that matches these social values. Often, however, businesses tend to engage with those charities that are well recognised and that have a great image and media presence. It is equally difficult for local charities to engage with the business community: most of them don’t know how to make the introduction, some struggle with the idea of partnerships being different from financial support, and others believe that as a charity, there is no real long term benefit in engaging with businesses. As the charity sector experts, Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL) can help you with your CSR strategy, identify your core values, and connect you with a local charity. This is not just financial support but a combination of philanthropic giving, brand recognition, and promotion, volunteering your services and time, and much more. The wider community needs to come together during these difficult and uncertain times to support each other, and we can help you along the way. To speak to us, or for more information about our services, please visit or email

children to acrimony and fighting. Not only that, but if parents can resolve their differences in mediation regarding their children and future arrangements of care, they can avoid court altogether without harmful delays and the horror which might mean the dispute remains unresolved for months and months. A mediator will not only be able to act as an independent and impartial facilitator of important and much needed discussions. They also help all parties to reach decisions that work for both of them. Research shows that t if parents can reach their decisions jointly, this helps long term co-parenting – which will hugely benefit the child. In these times of lockdown, mediation has never been a more valuable way to assist families through their breakups.

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Partner of The Miller Partnership

Trading in a post-Covid-19 world:

Consider the corporate tax implications As your business adapts to a ‘new normal’, Pete Miller of taxation specialist firm The Miller Partnership says it’s now more important than ever that you seek professional taxation advice and guidance


he quick bounce back which had been predicted in some quarters following the UK’s first lockdown didn’t happen and it could be a long, tentative road back to economic health for many companies. Add Brexit into the mix too, and there’s a lot to consider as we head into 2021/2022. However, depending on your sector, your order books and the pace of your recovery, now could be the right time to revisit those plans you put on hold last year due to the pandemic. And one thing is for certain – whether you’re looking to restructure, demerge or sell your business – there will be tax implications. So, if for instance, you’ve decided to sell up and retire, check first to see if you qualify for the 10% rate of capital gains tax.

It might be that a new post-Covid-19 trading landscape means you’d be better off breaking up your business into two companies, allowing shareholders to go in different directions. To help our clients, we have developed mechanisms that let them demerge with no tax cost, in many cases, and with only relatively low stamp duty costs, otherwise. And, as we can still get advance clearance from HMRC for the income tax, capital gains tax and corporation tax elements, our clients have the same degree of certainty about tax treatment they have always enjoyed. Whatever this brave new world has in store for you, we can provide you with expert corporate tax advice. For further information email or call 0116 208 1020.

Brexit: a concern for mid-market businesses? Almost a third of business leaders do not expect Brexit to have any impact in the next six months


ata gathered by business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP shows that 35% of 642 senior decisions makers at mid-market businesses (defined as those with an average annual turnover between £50million - £500million), who were polled over the first two weeks of December, are not expecting Brexit to have any impact on their business between the time of the survey and the end of April. Dave Munton, Head of UK Markets and Clients, Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented: “It is unlikely that any business will be able to totally avoid the impact that Brexit, especially a ‘no deal’ scenario, will have. Whether it’s the consequences to the UK economy and the strength of the pound, or the impacts on the day-to-day aspects

of doing business in a global market, the effects of Brexit will hit different businesses, in different ways over different timeframes. “While mid-market business leaders clearly feel that the end of the transition period will be a good thing, it is surprising to see that so many don’t believe there will be an immediate impact on their business. Our work with our mid-market clients, however, does suggest that while many businesses have successfully dealt with the unique challenges thrown at them over the last nine months, the uncertainty surrounding the short term consequences of Brexit has resulted in the deferral of some activity until more clarity is available.” More concern from mid-market business leaders are placed on trade

and global travel with 41% commenting that any extra Covid-19 lockdown restrictions could be ‘bad for business’. Their biggest Brexit-related worry is legal and regulatory changes, followed by people-related anxieties such as recruitment and mobility as well as data challenges and tax and customs changes. NICHE | 21

See the way forward with our help. Whatever financial problems you are experiencing in your business, we can help.

Contact us for a consultation on: Carolynn Best, Partner M: 07800 508 173 E: Martin Buttriss, Partner M: 07583 107 460 E: 1st Floor Gateway House, Grove Business Park, Enderby, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE19 1SY

Offices across the UK. Begbies Traynor (Central) LLP, a limited liability partnership, registered in England and Wales No: OC306540. Registered Office: 340 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY A member of the Begbies Traynor Group: Specialist Professional Services.


Funded support for

Leicestershire businesses post EU transition Now that the EU transition period has come to an end, businesses will have to deal with huge changes



hirty years of trading convention have finished and we know that, with the enormous challenges of 2020, many business owners might not be as prepared as they would like. The good news is for businesses in Leicestershire, there’s a new funded support programme available from the Business Gateway Growth Hub, which includes dedicated one-to-one advice and webinars for both experienced and novice importers and exporters. The Business Gateway Growth Hub is a free business support and advice service for businesses across Leicester and Leicestershire. It is delivered in partnership by Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise

Partnership (LLEP). Jon Egley, Growth Hub Manager said: “It’s important our local businesses don’t miss out on opportunities post EU-transition may bring. Our programme offers something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a light touch or more tailored approach. If you’re an experienced exporter or want to expand overseas for the first time we can help; so we urge Leicestershire businesses to get in touch.” The comprehensive support package available has been designed for all businesses to take advantage of and covers a wide range of topics including transport, marketing your business and how you can provide services in the EU markets. It will also support those businesses that currently or plan to employ EU nationals. An extension of this support


will be through a peer-topeer programme dedicated to international traders which meets once a month providing networking opportunities and the chance to build longterm relationships with fellow business owners. The service will be provided for the Business Gateway by international trade and business resilience experts. We also have the support of Department for International Trade adviser, Ann Cook, who has a wealth of experience. For further details visit

NICHE | 23

The specialist finance service supporting the sports industry Athletes and sports companies now have access to a range of specialist finance facilities to suit the unique needs of the industry WORDS BY KERRY SMITH


new specialist financial advisory service has been launched by Charnwood Accountants & Business Advisors LLP. Loughborough Finance for Sport (LFS) will support athletes and sports-related businesses with their accounting and financial needs. The new trading arm supports high profile sporting professionals and businesses such as Olympians, renowned 400m runner and relay specialist Martyn Rooney and former UK pole vault record holder Kate Rooney. “[LFS] understands the demands of working in sport and the financial benefits and constraints that we might find ourselves in. We would recommend LFS to any athletes wanting to keep on top of their finances,” Kate said. Charnwood has acquired several clients across the sports sector over the years, harnessing an in-depth understanding and a specialist technical expertise in the area. The team has utilised their knowledge and experience to produce a tailored service plan to fit the unique needs of sports professionals, complimented by a sports-specific advisory team headed up by an elite athlete. Effective financial management can be challenging in the sporting industry, as 24 | NICHE

professionals and businesses working in the sector must comply with strict regulations and the constraints of competitive sporting schedules. LFS was set up to ensure sports people can focus on their training and competition by offering specialist financial, tax and business advice. Paralympic track and field athlete and Vice President of UK Athletics, Stef Reid said: “They understand the nuances of the sport world, ensure we are thinking both short and long term, and make the process as stress free as possible.” The sports finance specialists recently partnered with junior cycling team Tofauti Everyone Active, helping empower junior riders aged 16-18 to take control of their cycling development through unrivalled support and teamwork. This follows their first supported athlete via SportsAid, with Loughborough based javelin star Bekah Walton the athlete chosen for 2021 as she looks towards qualification for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Stu Spencer, Head of Sports Advisory and Associate Director at LFS’s parent firm Charnwood Accounts, said: “As our firm has grown, and in particular the number of sports professionals


we are advising from a relatively young age, we have developed several services focused on the key financial issues and challenges these young adults begin to face. The team’s ethos fits perfectly with this and partnering with them for 2021 was therefore any easy decision.” With six current or former national champions in the teams, eight junior women and seven junior men, the 2021 season looks exciting, with the race calendar including several UCI races across UK and Europe – the highest level of junior cycling. Stu added: “The team’s race calendar is taking shape and we plan on supporting the team at races across the country. We are super excited about the local races in particular and hope that our partnership helps give the team some ‘home advantage’ in those.” For more information on Loughborough Finance for Sport, call or WhatsApp 01509 277 747, email, or visit


Money Talks Rajesh Modha of Finance Lab, a leading femalefocused holistic financial planning firm, talks to Justine Flack, Partner at Howes Percival LLP, about the emotional and financial implications for women during divorce

In conversation with: JUSTINE FLACK


ustine Flack, partner at Howes Percival LLP, has a breadth of experience in all issues relevant to relationship breakdown and the finances associated. Are there common emotions that women experience whilst negotiating the financial settlement of a divorce? If the woman is the lower wage earner, they can have a sense of guilt for seeking a fair share of assets generated through employment or a business. They may feel unworthy and essentially not fully realise that their contribution as homemaker is just as valuable. They may feel guilty for wanting 50% or more if the circumstances justify it. Divorce can rock your selfconfidence, self-esteem and selfbelief, regardless of gender. Things become further complicated where there has been a controlling element to the relationship and women can be frightened of seeking what

they are entitled to. They can be tempted to seek a quick settlement to ‘get it over with’, particularly where there are children involved; women are often the pacifier and want to compromise. They may be left feeling guilty about the legal fees incurred for proper advice. Too often I have heard ‘he won’t like it’ when I suggest a division or sharing. From my viewpoint, I’m not concerned with what he will like! Why do you think this is and how do you help? Many of the emotions are based on long and deep-rooted relationship ‘roles’, ie money stories that have been ingrained since childhood, and gender roles assumed in society. This undoubtedly affects an individual’s ability to make decisions. I encourage them to take time to make decisions, to think carefully about options, to talk things through fully and to establish what is important for them and what they want the future to look like. I tell them that it’s OK to be selfish at this time – after all, it’s their future and we get one shot at getting it right.


I will advise on what is fair so that both parties can move on, and encourage them so that they can deal with things head on and make decisions about themselves and to lean on others for support too. It’s about what they want and need, not about keeping others happy. Do you believe women are being suitably represented by the financial services industry when dealing with divorce? Some advisors do a good job and selecting one is similar to how they should choose a solicitor. Find someone who explains things in terms they understand, allows them to weigh up options and make decisions based on what’s right for them. Someone who listens and gives them time, particularly when they may be struggling. Someone who wants to understand what is important for them and what they want for their future. If you would like to discuss your financial planning needs after your divorce feel free to reach out to Rajesh at or call 0116 262 1414. NICHE | 25


GLYNIS WRIGHT MBE Partner at Nelsons Solicitors

POST-LOCKDOWN DIVORCE When the first lockdown was announced in March 2020, there was an estimated 40% increase in enquiries to law firms about child arrangements, separation and divorce, and this spike continued right up to the end of 2020. The question arises whether the increased numbers that rushed to file divorce petitions in 2020 were those who already had problems within the marriage, and for whom the pandemic merely escalated the inevitable, or whether the pandemic caused the breakup of marriages that had been perfectly happy up to that point and would have survived if there had been no pandemic. One of the biggest effects of the pandemic has been financial hardship, which creates a huge strain on relationships. Arguably, without this additional pressure, those relationships might have survived. Even worse, having reached a state of deep unhappiness, couples were forced to continue living together in what can only be described as extremely challenging circumstances. However, on the more positive side, some couples have wanted to find a better way of splitting up by using our mediation service. Mediation with trained professionals allows for a timely, sensitive, and efficient response to a highly stressful separation, in the wake of what has been a challenging time for everyone’s mental health. My advice to any of you reading this column who may be in an unhappy relationship or marriage and contemplating breaking up in the New Year, is to research the positive benefits of mediation and to self-refer to a reputable mediation service. 26 | NICHE


3 FACTORS THAT MAKE YOUR WILL INVALID Your will might not be as set-in-stone as you think, especially if you’ve rushed a DIY will during the course of the pandemic. If a person has valid legal grounds, your will can be contested by them. Who would do this, and why? ‘Interested persons’ such as a family member who you do not wish to inherit but who believes they have the right to your estate. An interested person can contest a will on the following grounds. Inaccuracies Your will may be challenged if it contains errors in spelling and grammar, meaning it can be implied that your wishes have been misunderstood at the time of writing. A person can contest the will if they believe this has meant they miss out on benefitting from the will. They may also argue that the wording is misleading or unclear. Undue influence If someone suspects that there was pressure put on the person writing the will (testator), or that

BHAVIN GANDHI Co-Director at Paradigm Wills and Legal Services they were manipulated when writing the will, your will could be under threat. Someone close to you or related to you could suggest that the will was written under coercion or intimidation in order to receive a share of inheritance. Deathbed wills have also been viewed under suspicion and those who were not present at the time may feel they have been denied in some way. Testamentary capacity doubt When you write your will you must be of sound mind. This means you must understand what a will is, recognise that you are writing one, and be in good mental health. If someone wants to contest the will, they will need to have evidence that the above is untrue.

CONVEYANCING AND MOVING HOME BHUMIKA PARMAR Director of BP Legal Solicitors Moving house can be a very stressful time, especially during a pandemic. To reduce the number of concerns, a buyer will often invest in a conveyancer, and for good reason. It most certainly is ‘better to be safe than sorry’ when it comes to making possibly the biggest purchase of your life. It’s important to select a conveyancer that is part of a Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), a recognised quality standard which means their service is overseen by The Law Society. BP Legal is, of course, CQS accredited – and here we give you our official moving home checklist to make sure it’s the right house for you. Your conveyancing solicitor should: ◆ Make sure the property title is marketable and verify ownership

◆ Advise

on freehold and leasehold up a contract of sale and send it to the buyer’s solicitor ◆ Check for restrictive covenants or rights of way ◆ Check buildings have correct planning permission, licenses and warranties ◆ Check there are no debts owing against a property ◆ Carry out local authority searches for zoning restrictions or debts due ◆ Arrange additional property searches ◆ Check mortgage documents ◆ Ensure the deposit has been paid ◆ Exchange contracts, making the deal legally binding ◆ Lodge an interest in the property so it cannot be sold to another ◆ Calculate the final figure to pay ◆ Arrange for the title to be transferred to the new owner’s name ◆ Pay Stamp Duty Tax on your behalf ◆ Lodge the title deeds with Land Registry ◆ Send a copy of the deeds to your mortgage lender ◆ Draw

Glynis Wright & Co are delighted to have joined the Nelsons team. Complete expertise in all aspects of family law – now with the backing of a leading regional firm. Divorce & separation can be complicated and emotional. Our experienced team deliver the right blend of support and practical advice – empowering you, giving you a voice and helping you come through stronger.

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Divorce and separation: what to do next If your marriage suffered at the heartless hands of 2020, here’s what your number one priority should be


ational Divorce Day, which fell on January 4 this year, represents a surge in divorce enquiries that take place after married partners spend more time than usual together over the festive period. But of course that’s not all that couples have had to deal with recently. After two national lockdowns (with an extended confinement period for Leicester in lockdown one), almost 10m furloughed employees (, and the dreary grey clouds of tier three cast over the Midlands, 2020-21 may have seen more breakup enquires than ever, indicating a ‘divorce boom’ after the coronavirus pandemic put many relationships under immense pressure. If you’re part of that divorce boom, you may have already spent a fair bit on divorce proceedings and aren’t ready to commit to updating or creating a will just yet, but Bhavin Gandhi, wills and probate specialist at Paradigm Wills and Legal Services says it should be top of your to-do list. “It’s the number one priority you should have after getting divorced or separating from your partner,” Bhavin explains. “The likelihood is that you weren’t thinking about what would happen if you split from your partner when you made your will and were in a happy relationship, meaning the will you currently have doesn’t fit your new normal. If your will doesn’t state exactly how your estate should be divided upon the event of a divorce or separation, things could go terribly wrong for your loved ones who were counting on their inheritance, whether in monetary or sentimental value. “Even if your relationship survived 2020, it’s worth updating your will as you will have no doubt experienced numerous other life changes and ideas on how you’d like your family’s future to pan out.” In other words, whatever effect last year had on your relationships, it’s probably time to update or create your will. For legal advice on what to do after divorce or separation, contact Paradigm Wills and Legal services on 0116 464 7055. 28 | NICHE

Here at Nelsons we’ve been quietly expanding our corporate services team. A calm, measured approach building expertise across the region. Nelsons, your complete corporate services team.

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22/09/2020 17:24


New Year,

new start to how we work We’re going to be seeing lots of concepts cropping up around how we work in the new year – some will be new, some will be a redesign of existing concepts and others just work without needing change WORDS BY EMILY MILLER


e’ve witnessed lots of refinement and change throughout 2020 including a new found love for flexible working (varied hours), remote working (being based anywhere) and a realisation that not everyone ticks in the same way. Some enjoy the independence of remote working whilst others miss the ‘water cooler moments’ and office banter. Rik Pancholi of Pattersons Commercial Law said: “As a law firm supporting businesses, their owners and their management teams, we suspect some of the operational areas businesses will be developing in 2021 will be very different to what they may have considered two years ago. “There is going to be a real change in how to deploy the workforce and it is worth taking a look at the best of what has been discovered during 2020. Each team member will have worked differently and it is important to not pigeonhole every member of the team into the same category. “Some will work best in a

communal environment (which should be supported in a safe manner). Others will work better in their own environment where they can just ‘get on with it’. If businesses can understand how to get the best out of their team, they will know how best to support them. Ultimately, communication will be the key here.” Looking after employees’ mental health and wellbeing will go to the heart of how employees will be treated and ultimately, what will make them remain loyal to their employers. There is likely to be a change in expectations from clients and customers. Whether this will be an insistence to move towards more efficient methods of working or a greater demand on time, there will certainly be a dependency on innovation to keep businesses afloat and pushing ahead. Innovation could include everything from building in energy efficiencies to support the environment, developing artificial intelligence to streamline


processes and potentially looking at opening up the hiring pool to those based abroad in a manner which may not have seemed possible before 2020. “As a business, we’re certainly looking towards innovation in a law firm and how we can deliver to our clients in the law firm of the future. The year 2021 will certainly create opportunities to grow and stabilise by potentially acquiring a competing business or those which offer a strategic fit – it may be easier to buy a business which is geared up for the future. “At Pattersons Commercial Law, we’ve seen many businesses seek out mergers or outright acquisitions with a view to innovating, bolstering their teams and developing their business in a way which may not have previously seemed possible. These are interesting times and 2021 may just be the start of a new change.” Contact Rik and his team for support during change for your business on 0116 319 1110 or at NICHE | 29


Team ER’s DNA After a rebrand and a presidential induction, the team at ER Recruitment take on 2021 WORDS BY KERRY SMITH


ileen Richards’ position differs to that of a typical recruitment company leader. The founder and Managing Director of ER Recruitment met with Prince Charles upon receiving her MBE in 2018, she’s Co-Chair of East Midlands Chamber’s networking and development group Enterprising Women, is a trustee of charity Hope Against Cancer and committee member for Wooden Spoon, and most recently, was named President of the East Midlands Chamber on December 11 last year. Her role goes beyond that of an owner of a company. She’s an employer, a President, an ambassador, and to many an advocate, a role model, as well as a confidant. On top, she cares deeply about making a difference. These many tasks are commitments she holds close to her 30 | NICHE

heart – but of course, they take up much of her time, which is why we exclusively introduce the ER Recruitment team in this issue of Niche Magazine. “I’m able to fulfil all these duties because I have a great team I can rely on in the office that allows me to go out and do these things,” Eileen says when Niche meets her and the team at Tigers’ Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium; one of ER Recruitment’s clientele. When the Presidential chains were passed on to her from Dawn Edwards last year, Eileen’s speech revealed her top three priorities for East Midlands Chamber: promoting the Chamber’s Generation Next that supports the development of the region’s future business leaders; lobbying key decision and policymakers to bring


infrastructure investment to the region; and encouraging inter-membership trading and collaboration. Meanwhile – whilst Eileen makes her influential mark as President, works with and for local charitable causes, and continues to run her business – the team members in the office at ER are making their own mark in the business community. ER Executive Assistant Sarah Knight said her job brings out the best in her: “I love supporting Eileen in her work, from her charitable causes to board events and now her presidential commitments. I thrive from it and it brings out my organisation and communication skills.” Hitting the new year with a fresh new look, the team has gone about a rebrand – sticking, of course, with the unmistakable rich purple that has become synonymous with the company – and each of the recruitment specialists has stepped into the spotlight. The team thought that the ‘part of your DNA’ slogan suited perfectly, especially as DNA identity testing was invented here in Leicester. Scarlett Tinsley, Brand Marketing Executive, explained: “We have excelled to a completely different place to where we first started seven years ago. Our partners are an extended part of our team and we wanted the rebrand to demonstrate this, hence why it focuses on DNA. It refers to recruitment being part of our DNA, making us experts in the industry, and that we take the time to understand our client’s and candidate’s DNA and what’s important to them, enabling us to make the perfect match.” Recruitment Coordinator Tracey Brown has been with the business since its inception in 2013. She commented: “It’s been great to watch the business go from just myself and Eileen to the team we have now; we’ve moved offices twice, and with that have expanded the clients and candidates we work alongside.” Each client is treated as a strand of ER’s DNA; the team builds strong relationships and recruits for each business as though they are recruiting for themselves. Business Manager at ER, Maxine Eversfield, said: “It’s important that we form good partnerships. A client has to trust that we know what they’re looking for and the unique skill sets they need.” Dealing in employment across a range of sectors, the team says one particular area of recruitment has soared this past year: non-executive roles. Using their own private, extensive database of contacts, headhunting, internet and social media advertising, ER is finding that many businesses are more eager to hire at this level than they’ve witnessed before. Non-executives are board members without the daily responsibilities of a management role. Eileen said: “What the last nine months have shown us is that it’s very important who you have sitting around that board table. Some businesses don’t have a board or lots of directors, especially SMEs like myself. The non-exec is important here. Having someone with that knowledge and experience who can look at your business with a fresh pair of eyes is a role that’s needed in all businesses.” On the calibre of candidates available to these positions, Recruitment Specialist Laura Partridge said:

It’s important that we form good partnerships. A client has to trust that we know what they’re looking for and the unique skill sets they need “We work with clients across the East Midlands and some fantastic and very talented candidates.” To reach these high-value candidates for companies, ER is continuously evolving its own brand. Scarlett added: “I first joined ER while studying at DMU and am now in charge of all marketing and branding. We understand that we have to invest in our brand for us to continue to connect with quality candidates and clients.” One partnership the ER team has made recently is with De Montfort University. Together, their BrightER Futures project will ready students for the workplace, equipping them with skills and confidence. The partnership expands into 20 offshoot partnerships with companies that will each take on a student interested in their industry. Other recent partnerships include their collaboration with the recognisable brand Everards to exclusively recruit for over 40 vacancies in their new home, Everards Meadows. Additionally, the ER team has merged with Breedon Consulting, which will see them provide combined HR and recruitment services. As a final note to businesses looking to hire high-level non-executive roles this year, the team told Niche that the predicted recruitment trends for 2021 have changed. It used to be that candidates asked how much they could earn or about future career opportunities. Whilst they are still important, candidates are now keen to join stable businesses who are considered employers of choice that invest in their people. As a relationship-focused business, the ER team express that having the right people in your team is the most crucial factor in any organisation, and therefore encourages businesses and candidates to ensure they have the perfect DNA match, just as the ER team do themselves. Find out more at or call 0116 254 9710 for recruitment advice.

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The Shape of 2020 From Ed Sheeran to those grass roots artists you’ve not yet heard of, TheMusicLicence from PPL PRS helps to support them all. While we all turned to music to soothe our souls in 2020, the company has been working hard to help businesses and the arts cope during the pandemic WORDS BY ALEXANDRA CARR

32 | NICHE


s the Government announced a national lockdown in March 2020, all but essential businesses had to pull down their shutters and hope the storm would pass quickly. Obviously, we now know that this was not to be the case, and the dawn of 2021 brought with it regional tiered restrictions, and still more uncertainty for business owners all over the country. It’s not all doom and gloom though, effective vaccination of the population is on the horizon, which could mean the return to some form of normality. Many people turned to music to help them deal with their fears, isolation and pressures that came with the Covid-19 situation last year. We saw hospital workers dancing during their breaks, homeworkers turning to the radio for company, and famous artists ranging from Billie Eilish to The Rolling Stones hosting virtual gigs to keep spirits up. Music can have that effect; it touches our emotions like nothing else. Over 400,000 businesses across the UK play music within their premises, with a large proportion of these being affected by the lockdown. Leicester-based music licensing company, PPL PRS, were quick to act when news of the lockdown broke – not only for their customers, but for their own employees too. When a business plays music to its customers or employees, they would normally require TheMusicLicence from PPL PRS to legally play that music in public. The company has committed to ensuring that any business which has been closed, or unable to play music due to the pandemic, will not be charged for TheMusicLicence; a welcome relief for many businesses faced with financial uncertainty due to this situation we find ourselves in. For their employees, PPL PRS transitioned from office


Many people turned to music to help them deal with their fears, isolation and pressures that came with the Covid-19 situation to home working with speed, alongside ensuring that customer service levels were impacted as little as possible. The 260-strong employee base vacated their home in Mercury Place in Leicester and all staff were provided with the technical and wellbeing equipment they required – laptops, office chairs, screens, headsets – to do their jobs efficiently and comfortably. Looking back over the last 12 months, the business has worked hard to ensure staff remained engaged and cared for. This ranged from having 14 trained mental health first aiders on hand to listen and support any of those who were struggling during lockdown, to weekly ‘coffee-breaks’ with Managing Director Andrea Gray, to yoga classes, quizzes, care packages, and various other groups and events taking place. During this time, the company was also recruiting. As businesses across the country started to reopen, there was an increase in customer contact which resulted in a need for more staff. To ensure new employees were trained sufficiently, and safely, the in-house recruitment team created a Covid-safe environment for the new recruits to learn, and be welcomed into the PPL PRS family. Once training had finished, new staff were provided with all the equipment they needed, along with a ‘buddy’ support system to ensure they were helped along with each step of their new roles. PPL PRS has not only been supporting their own staff during this unusual time, but they have also been working with other local businesses too. At the end of last year, PPL PRS committed to sponsor a production of The Color Purple at Curve Theatre, along with providing 500 tickets to first time theatre goers from black, Asian and ethnically diverse backgrounds or those from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds. Andrea said: “Theatre should be accessible to everyone, and by providing these tickets to local people, we will be encouraging more people to attend, and keep coming back.” Leicester is a fantastically diverse city, and PPL PRS is keen to reflect that with it’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. So much so that the company is a member of the UK Music Diversity Taskforce. This taskforce was set up in 2015 to promote and drive change in the music industry, working with trade bodies and the Government. Head of HR for PPL PRS Kevin Underdown said: “We recognise the importance of a diverse workforce and the benefits it can bring and are committed to further developing a fair and considerate working culture regardless of an individual’s background or any other characteristic. Diversity and inclusion is not only embedded

into our core strategic objectives, it is also championed within the culture of our business and we understand the important role we play promoting this in our society.” The company has also sponsored a number of awards throughout the year, including the Niche Business Award for Small Business of the Year, and the LeicestershireLive Education Award for Music Excellence. Celebrating the abundance of talent that we have in Leicestershire is so important to ensure businesses continue to thrive and we continue to produce outstanding students and future leaders for our city. In October 2020, PPL PRS also became a Strategic Partner with the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, further cementing it’s place within the business community. Managing Director, Andrea Gray said: “Being a Strategic Partner of East Midlands Chamber allows us to engage with other industries, share best practice and knowledge, and of course help to build a fantastic network of companies – all working to ensure that the East Midlands remains an economic hub for UK industry.” Whilst 2020 was a very strange (and at times scary) year for everyone, PPL PRS is excited about the new challenges that 2021 will bring with it. Music brought happiness and fun into 2020, and the company is encouraging businesses across the UK to restore the rhythm, by using music to welcome customers back, and help anxious employees returning into the workplace. The music has been silenced, but now it’s time to revive.

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the role by truly understanding the business

selection by screening potential candidates

the right talent by using our network and experience

Let us find the Executive that matches your DNA t: 0116 254 9710 @errecruitment1


Coaching for leaders The coaching journey of the Cross Productions and Niche Magazine team WORDS BY KERRY SMITH


n her website it says that it takes an ‘exceptionally strong leader to ask for help’. Amanda Daly, aka the Turnaround CEO, says that as a business owner or leader is often seen as one who has all of the answers, it can sometimes be hard to show the vulnerability it takes to seek support for themselves. I’ve often looked to my boss, Cross Productions CEO Jenny Cross, and wondered how on earth she managed it all – from sales to design, she was the person every single one of my 13 colleagues would turn to for every answer.

KERRY SMITH Editor at Cross Productions’ Niche Magazine Blaming it somewhat on lockdown and working from home, a year into the role I still feel new to it. Amanda calls it ‘imposter syndrome’, the dark secret many leaders carry around with them of doubting their ability – cue tears in eyes and insecurity outburst. By the third session, although she admits she doesn’t usually go so ‘deep’ so quickly with clients, Amanda opened my eyes to the leader that I am and the responsibilities I have to other team members. Along the way, I’ve had homework such as writing an insecurity trigger list and researching the Chimp Paradox. I do feel a change in me and look forward to my second year as a leader who deserves to be just that.

But this year she took on a coach. Learning new skills to allow her to delegate tasks and encourage our heads of department to ‘own their roles’ has paid off big time. Jenny’s been so thrilled with the results that she asked myself as editor, Susan Holmes as head of design studio, and Becci Houlston as head of digital to undergo some coaching of our own. The Turnaround CEO herself ( was selected as our coach. After three personal sessions with her, we share our journey so far.

SUSAN HOLMES Head of Design Studio at Cross Productions’ Niche Magazine I’ve been working on a performance plan for my own use. Even though I have processes and procedures in place, it’s something I plan to develop to prove to myself that the idea of allowing myself to let go of some of my workload could benefit me. Amanda and I have been working on what I mean to Cross, my value to the team, and if I am applying myself effectively. I absolutely love my job, so I actively take on every task put to me. But is this always for the best? Amanda has helped me realise that by delegating tasks to someone with whom I can share my processes and trust to live up to the Cross design standard, will help me apply myself in the most effective way.


BECCI HOULSTON Head of Digital at Cross Productions “You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea, so don’t be a mug,” was a key takeaway from my first session. It was an emotional one, having confessed to the confidence I was lacking and people-pleasing I was trying to achieve. Struggling with applying myself as a manager and a creative, we’ve been working on processes and structure. I’ve discovered what my genius is. I’m a creative person who needs to inspire my team in such a way. Content creation needs to be carried out by creatives – exactly what my team is made of. A strong manager needs to dedicate time to managing and inspiring, not necessarily being everything to everyone – a light I hadn’t seen my role in before. NICHE | 35

Dismissal with compassion

Can you ever let someone go from your employment compassionately? “Yes, absolutely and it’s a mantra I have always worked to,” says Aleena Ahmad of Affinity HRM


ith the new year upon us and as businesses plan for 2021, a certain amount of restructuring will inevitably take place in the aftermath of the global pandemic. Employers are often very worried about making and delivering these difficult and often strained and emotional decisions, which is understandable. HR expert Aleena Ahmad of Affinity HRH explains: “No one likes to fire people – it doesn’t matter how successful or high up they are, it’s often as hard on the person giving the bad news as it is on the person receiving it. Communication, clarity and staying calm are the three C’s to keep in mind. “Look the person in the eye and

clearly explain your decision in a calm way, with compassion, and the process will be far less traumatic for you and the employee.” When you consider the way in which a company treats their employees, particularly at the end of a contract, it will impact your reputation both within and outside of the business – the way you handle the termination of a contract is key. Having a relatable HR professional there to guide you through the process who knows the protocol and processes is invaluable. “I helped one company with the dismissal of an employee over a decade ago. Surprisingly, the employee reached out to me to refer

a client. I was so moved that he did. You don’t expect to be contacted by someone who you were involved in firing, and it really meant a great deal. He told me he had respected how I had handled the dismissal with such compassion, and in the long-term he recognised it was the right thing,” Aleena recalls. Needing to fire an employee will never be an enjoyable experience, however there are ways you’ll be able to dismiss with compassion. Ending on a handshake and best wishes for the future is far more preferrable than tears and a tantrum. To support you through dismissal, contact Aleena on 0116 478 0025 or email

From Plan B to Plan A “Work to learn, not to earn,” Utility Warehouse Distributor Barrie Moore says as we talk about earning extra income in 2021


s a distributor for Utility Warehouse, Barrie Moore has created a career for himself which started out as something to simply supplement his income. A long-term business owner, Barrie knows what it takes to run his own business and the appeal in Utility Warehouse was largely down to joining an already established, highly respected business. “There was no risk for me, only wins. I knew how supportive both the company and the network of distributors were from meeting some of them in the BNI community here in Leicester. Added to this, the product is not only essential for clients but it is also a product I believe in. Helping clients save money by having all of their utilities under the same supplier and allowing them to enjoy the many benefits it has, is a real win-win for me and my work,” Barrie told us. The role, which started out as a Plan B, has this year become Plan A for Barrie as he has been able to grow his 36 | NICHE

work at a time when work prospects haven’t always been enticing. “The support of the network has continued to grow in the last year. We really do learn from each other and I have found that what started as a side hustle for me has become my main work focus.” The flexible role of being a UW distributor means you can work from home, setting up clients with new accounts via Zoom. A new team member will receive support from the offset, with presentations and video support as well as mentoring for early appointments, which is of course ongoing. “Training on-the-job with UW means that distributors can earn from the off. There’s no training incubation period and really, as a distributor, no limits to what you can earn and where you can take your career,” Barrie continues. For a new challenge or to reassess your work-life balance, call Barrie on 07747 863 877 or email


Facing the music industry

Music producer Simon Short talks about setting up as a small business owner and how he built a priceless network of connections WORDS BY AMANDA PATTERSON


imon Short is well known for his passion for music; often when we meet, we talk about what we’re listening to, why we like it and share new albums we’re enjoying. Since I’ve known him, I’ve seen him play keyboard in a punk band, mandolin in a folk act, and most recently, bass for a popular rock band called Lyoness. Prior to starting his own business, Simon worked for many years with an audio engineering company, selling recording equipment to large studios. This meant he had exposure to the production and engineering process, from start to finish. To get his business up and running, he used the resources available at City Business Library to help him understand his market, how to price his service, his legal requirements as a business owner, how to file taxes and much more. Simon Short Music provides a range of music industry services that include mixing, producing, arranging and performing in both studio and live scenarios – as well as consultation on recording studio build and design.

Simon told me: “Over the years I had built up relationships in the industry; ensuring they were aware that I was now working for myself was imperative – you never know where your next referral may come from.” He went about attending seminars, contributing to forums, speaking to other self-employed producers and engineers, and engaging with old friends. Simon explained: “My network is invaluable to me. I have far more business opportunities meeting and engaging with artists than sitting at home with a swanky website. I had to start planning how I was going to engage, and where to invest initially to develop a pipeline of work to carry me through the first few months. “Music means everything to me; I bring this passion into my work and develop strong relationships with my artists to help them really take their art to a new level. I am always watching live music, researching production techniques and new technologies – this ensures that I stay relevant and maintain a deep insight into where the music industry is and



where it is going.” I ask Simon what advice he has for those who wish to start their own business: “Take the time to analyse how you spend your time and money. Your time is so important; value it and work appropriately. If you have a talent, or a skill that you can offer that no-one else can, make sure that it is valued. When you are starting out, it’s tempting to undercut the competition – in reality, people consider your pricing to be commensurate with quality. If you start quoting too low, you can price yourself out of consideration.” Make use of free resources online and in your community, at City Business Library. There are business one-to-ones, market research resources, seminars, networking and events. Find the space you need, ask for help, and build the relationships that you need to get up and running. If you are passionate, make it happen.

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and save Nothing could have prepared SMEs for how the global pandemic has affected the way they work – it’s altered office life for good for the future WORDS BY EMILY MILLER


orking from home has never been more prevalent than it is now. A fresh outlook has grown on what it means to have a dynamic and flexible team who you can trust and rely on to do their job to the best of their ability when not under your nose in the same space. This kind of renewed sense of trust and open-minded attitude has extended to calling in experts to support your business by carrying out aspects of traditional office-based work remotely. Companies like JSP Virtual, a professional and experienced team of administrative experts, have seen a rise in demand for their services during the last year, as more businesses look to outsource elements of their business. Their work as remote receptionists has proven to be a highly efficient way to remove the need for a receptionist to front a building, eradicating 38 | NICHE

social distancing concerns. With many offices being temporarily closed and much of them closing for good as they move their offices to virtual and online spaces, owners are seeing the benefits in terms of efficiency and productivity, not to mention the cost-saving aspects. “Having a virtual receptionist frees up both time and money; there’s no sick pay, holiday pay, and of course no desk space required! We can provide a full reception service without the overheads attached to employing someone full time in what may well be a challenging year for many businesses and their budgets,” says Jo Peters, director of JSP Virtual. As businesses become more online, so too have the enquiries flooded into their inboxes. Jo shares the way in which a virtual PA can help: “Many of our clients have come to us saying that their


emails are just overwhelming – sorting out appointments, Zoom calls and networking events online as well as customer enquiries is taking them away from actually doing their business. A virtual PA takes care of this element, allowing owners to get on with running their daily business.” For those who require help with the financial aspects of their business, a virtual team like JSP Virtual can help here too. Chasing payments where cashflow might be more challenging this year can not only be time consuming, but also, Jo adds: “Quite sensitive when an owner has a good relationship with the client that needs chasing, having someone else to tackle this maintains good relations.” To outsource and save much needed time and money contact JSP Virtual on 0116 366 2040 or via


Why the board room is vital this year A fresh 90-day programme created by business consultants aims to help businesses prosper this year WORDS BY KERRY SMITH


hen you feel the need to talk things over and you turn to your friends, advisors, colleagues or counsellor – whoever your most trusted ally may be – it’s usually because things aren’t so great. But business owners of all shapes and sizes should be communicating, expressing how they feel and their hopes for the future, revisiting their plans, and analysing their business at any opportunity, especially when things are going well. Even for one-man bands and those who dislike the thought of conforming to corporate strategy, every decision you discuss, phone call you answer, or pep talk you have with yourself in the shower, acts as a ‘board meeting’ of some kind. But sometimes, every business from SMEs through to multi-national companies need to voice their ideas and gain a new perspective on their business in a more focused way to take it to the next level. To assist business owners, a new 90-day head start programme has been created by Assist Consultancy Ltd to make board room sessions available to all businesses, without the associated ‘board room’ costs. The programme delivers professional profiling, analysis reports, long-term roadmaps, brainstorming sessions, and more by taking an instant ‘helicopter

view’ of a business, rather than looking at its individual areas. The programme was launched this January, aimed at business owners who are already successful but serious about stepping it up in 2021 and quickly taking advantage of the opportunities out there. Sonia Baigent, owner of Assist, said: “Times are changing and businesses may need support and guidance, but they are either not ready to commit to monthly fees or may not even need more permanent solutions. I always thought there was room for some parts of consulting services to be much more succinct and instant for people wanting to make a real head start. We’ve brought everything we know into this new programme and condensed it for maximum impact. “We focus on shorter plans and none are designed to replace long term advice or detailed plans from coaches, accountants, or other advisors. We are very pro these complimentary services and work with them to deliver the whole package to gain a real competitive advantage for businesses. This is why we do not offer a more permanent, long term option in our own consultancy. It keeps us objective and ensures business owners can determine exactly which services they need without anything falling through the gaps. It’s our job to be


up to date on all potential issues for directors including HR, law, finance updates, global trading issues, Brexit, tax, technology, and much more. We save clients a lot of time and money at a time where both are scarce and more valuable than ever.” The programme is uniquely offering a one-time, nocommitment relationship that can be continued as and when the owners feel they want to take advantage of it. Sonia believes, after such a turbulent 2020, that this New Year truly is a great time to restart and regenerate: “It’s a great opportunity for a lot of businesses to refocus on a level playing field, as everyone will be at the starting line together. This is especially true for those smaller businesses trying to get ahead, but they’ve got to adapt quickly and meet the needs of their customers better than ever. This is why we have now also changed our product offering to do the same. “Covid has shown us what can be done in 90 days if you put your mind to it, but also how quickly things can change.” Whether your business is thriving right now or simply needs help to get back on the right track, your board room needs to hear about it. Speak to Sonia about the vision you have for your business on 01455 560042 or visit NICHE | 39

Your responsibilities as an employer

Teams from all kinds of industries and work environments were required to work from home and many employees have been doing so since the first lockdown of March last year. It was a rush job for most as no one could have really predicted the severity of the situation at the time


lthough companies can take much deserved pride in successfully managing their teams from home, and although many employees are happy with their new home working setup, the responsibilities that employers have for their staff may have been forgotten about, or they may not have even been aware of them. Did you know that while your employees work from home, you have a responsibility to make sure their homemade work spaces don’t cause them aches and pains? You also have the moral responsibility of ensuring their mental health is not adversely affected by what the pandemic may have caused them to go through while they’re not able to socialise as they would usually at work. Employers should be sensitive to each individual’s situation. And a level of flexibility is required as this time is uncertain for everyone in so many ways. If you haven’t already, it’s essential you re-establish 40 | NICHE

with your employees what their roles are while working from home, what can and cannot be done, and how processes should be followed. This kind of communication empowers teams. There are also matters to do with employees’ personal living circumstances. You should give them a nudge to check with their insurance, mortgage provider, or landlord that they’re safe to be working from home. One of your more obvious responsibilities as an employer is to make sure your team members have the correct technology and equipment. You should also consider how technical support will be delivered and how the cost of repairs will be covered. Do the right thing as an employer and check in on your employees mental and physical employees. And if you can, go above and beyond for them in this all too often upsetting time we all find ourselves in.


New era,

new leadership skills It’s a new year and soft skills specialist Nim Pancholi says it’s time to take employers’ leadership skills to a new level WORDS BY KERRY SMITH


e experienced lockdown 2.0 in December and everyone is now fully Zoomed out,” says Nim Pancholi who specialises in cultivating soft skills in the workplace, and we can definitely relate. Following the regulations during the second lockdown became a chore that was in many ways more strenuous than the first round back in March last year. Continued working from home caused sluggish productivity for some and working in the office felt stressful for others. Nim, who runs All About Soft Skills, said: “Most people had a feeling of déjà vu, but we saw it as a new era to develop new leadership skills. Employers have needed to be there for their employees more than ever, but they’re in need of something exciting and more innovative to keep engaged.” Many will still be in the same working situation today as they were late last year, but luckily Nim came up with a new programme, All About: The New Culture, for employers to build employee morale. She reveals her top tips.

Walk and talk

If you need a one to one with an employee, don’t set up a Zoom meeting. Nim advises meeting with them for a walk in the fresh air instead. You’re allowed to meet with one person outside for exercise, so a one to one away from the computer screen could be beneficial for those involved. If that’s not possible, she suggests arranging phone calls while both parties are outside for a walk. Not only will you benefit from the walk, but also your raised levels of serotonin will help stabilise your mood and feeling of wellbeing.

Parent forum

With the latest All About Soft Skills programme, parents working from home have access to a parenting forum set up especially for them, which they can use during working hours. It’s used to share feelings and advice to others who are juggling work and taking care of children. One tip Nim shares is to let your child co-work with you – the parent gets to work while they do their homework, which can keep them occupied for the most part of an hour as they feel a sense of pride to be working alongside


you. Creating a win-win situation or finding solutions to problems raises a level of dopamine which makes you feel good.


When employers surprise their employees with the unexpected, it builds a huge level of gratification and appreciation in employees. Both parties benefit from the rise in oxytocin levels. The art of giving and receiving does wonders for building stronger relationships and having an emotional connection.

‘Old Skool’

With the new year comes the need for breaks from technology whenever possible, Nim says. Going back to basics is an approach which is coming back into fashion. Aspects such as hand delivering items to team members and sending letters, cards, and meaningful items via post brings a sense of happiness. Taking those well-deserved social media holidays, technology time outs, and digital detoxes are more important than ever before. Endorphins help relieve stress and pain, which can come from a lot of technology around us and the expectation to have everything happen instantly. For more information on All About Soft Skills’ latest ‘new normal programmes’, call 07960 849 344 or email NICHE | 41

Workspace Evolution

The new face of the office Interior designer Sarah Palmer-Granville of SPG Interior Design talks us through changing workplace environments


he workplace is not the same as it was a year ago. Interior designer Sarah Palmer-Granville is adapting workplace environments so her clients have more flexible and effective offices that develop the emerging working methods. “Many people are comfortable and productive working from home but miss the social, collaborative aspects of the office,” she told us. It’s partly due to this that Sarah feels two trends will begin forming: a restructuring of the office and a rise in co-working spaces.

Restructuring the office

With many companies having introduced working-from-home rotas, and therefore fewer people working in offices, the emphasis is switching from

desk configurations to assembly spaces for collaboration and brainstorming. Each workspace will be individual to the specific company. Understanding daily routines, personal interactions as well as the technical and physical requirements of the space is essential information that Sarah works closely with her clients to gather and interpret, to develop a purpose-made proposal. “The new face of offices will be more about breakout rooms, social spaces, and individual pods for task working. An emphasis on hygiene and ventilation will have an increased priority, and going paperless will become more prevalent, creating more space. Efficient flow through any office has always been important, enabling staff, managers and the boss to work easily and comfortably.”

Co-working spaces

Sarah is interested in the future of co-working spaces and sees the potential for them to become a huge growth market from 2021. “Remote working doesn’t have to mean working from home, which for some can be emotionally difficult, and where there can be issues with space or distractions. Co-working spaces are already popular in bigger cities, but I can see them also emerging in both smaller towns and rural areas. There’s also scope for owners of larger office buildings to lease out now unused space to coworking ventures following their own restructuring.” For advice on how to evolve your office spaces contact Sarah on

Are you sitting


Or are you feeling the slump of working from home? WORDS BY KERRY SMITH


illions of people have by now settled into their home office setups. But while working from home may have its perks, a slump is beginning to be felt. A survey by Nurofen found that more than a third of Brits have suffered from increased back pain this year, with some claiming poor home working setups could be the cause. PBS Office Supplies director Ron Edwards installs ‘lifechanging’ desk and chair solutions. He said: “We’re often sitting for three to four hours in one session, so we need to be ergonomically seated. Now that we’ve set up makeshift offices, it’s likely many home workers won’t have the correct seating or workstation.” It is important to remember that the employer has a responsibility to provide positive, preventative and corrective solutions to posture issues both in the workplace and at home, Ron advises. An ill-designed desk and chair combination can cause great discomfort throughout the body. “Your mind is not fully focused on your job when you’re in pain. The correct workstation can lead to a healthier and more productive work outcome.” 42 | NICHE

After completing workspace assessments, Ron has been able to solve many seating problems with suitable desks and standard ergonomic chairs. More complex issues have been tackled with height adjustable sit/stand desks, narrower desks with monitor arms, and fully adjustable posture chairs with inflatable seats and back and thoracic supports to suit all musculoskeletal conditions. Throughout the pandemic, Ron has personally visited where allowed or consulted the client by phone and video to set up their desks and chairs to obtain the correct posture and support from the seat and the workstation area. Contact Ron for more advice on 01664 482 480 or email


Why your workers

need first aid training more than ever

Updated health and safety regulations on homeworking mean new responsibilities for employers WORDS BY KERRY SMITH


mployers have a legal responsibility to provide health and safety training while their employees work from home now that Health And Safety Executive (HSE) has updated its regulations for homeworking. First-aid trainer Geoff Elliott, who runs The Midlands Training Partnership, suggests that going forward, companies that have team members working from home should make permanent preparations to provide health and safety training. Geoff said: “Employers should show an interest in the wellbeing of their staff who are working from home. They should be making sure that none of their team members become ill or injured while working for them, whether that’s when they work in the office or when they work at home. “Taking care of a team’s wellbeing and making efforts to protect them also helps leaders and managers while not in direct contact with employees. Equipping employees with the knowledge to keep themselves healthy and safe, and prepared

for any incidents, eases the pressures placed on leaders and managers.” Geoff has been a first aid instructor for the Royal Air Force since 1984, training 32 individuals at any one time ranging from basic recruits through to experienced RAF personnel, so it’s safe to say he’s a trusted advisor on the subject. He advises that a workplace should have one first-aider for five to 50 workers, and another first aider for every other 50 employees. “A key part of first aid training,” he also advised, “is to teach how to recognise signs and symptoms of a wide range of complaints and know how to treat them. As such, a trained first aider should also be able to identify less common illnesses like meningitis, or even Covid-19.” The Midlands Training Partnership has been delivering health and safety courses to schools, gyms, sports clubs, and churches for over two years. The group has also worked with local basketball team Leicester Riders in support of their work with National Citizen Service (NCS)


projects for youngsters. The courses that the company is delivering are face-to-face, Covid-compliant, adhering to social distancing, with the use of PPE and hand washing procedures, ensuring a safe environment in which to conduct training. Courses are also offered on a blended learning basis, which allows the theory to be delivered and studied away from the classroom in the student’s own time, thus reducing time away from the workplace by one day and lending to an even safer practice. Geoff and his team can conduct the courses anywhere in the East Midlands and further afield if required, both in-house or at a local training facility. Call 07902 134 186 for more information, or visit

NICHE | 43

Your business strategy in 2021 A

fter last year, the New Year really is a good time to reassess where you’re at and where you’re going. Especially for work. You’ll find our ‘new year, new you’ section starting from page 89, and we’d like to wish you good luck with those personal goals but for now, we’re here to talk business. In this section, we’ve covered all bases with advice on how to achieve success from a business coach, a new outlook on the New Year from a consultant and

former finance manager, five essential questions from an accountancy firm to ask yourself, information on how to deal with employees that have a negative effect on your business, and helpful tips from a copywriter who says speaking to your audience in a language they understand is essential this year. Have a read of what our expert advisors have to say about the hopefully positive New Year and how to go into it with a spring in your step.

The formula for success

The majority don’t stick to new year’s resolutions. It’s human nature to be impatient and lazy – not exactly the formula for success and mastery of business, says Action Coach Phil Nassau


hat seems to stop most of us from discovering success is our genetic coding to look for the easiest path. We’re on a never-ending quest to find the path of least resistance instead of committing to what it takes to achieve the desired outcome. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we need to adapt to the changing business environment. Success does not come without sacrifice. Many businesses would be much further along the road to success if we took time out to plan. When planning, it’s critical to: ◆ Understand your current situation. ◆ Describe the clear outcome desired. ◆ Define the obstacles preventing the attainment of the outcome. ◆ Design and anticipate the activities to be performed ◆ Know the environment you’re operating in. ◆ Evaluate the competition’s strengths and weaknesses. ◆ Study the customer’s unfulfilled needs and frustrations. ◆ Identify the exact problem customers want solved. ◆ Commit to the promise your brand makes and it’s message.

44 | NICHE


There are three mistakes we can fall into when planning: 1. Substituting a description of the destination for a road map; a plan of exactly how to get from A to B. 2. Falling in love with the dream, the destination itself. 3. Creating a ten-year plan. It’s never really a plan, but rather an idea, a dream, wishful thinking. Too many things are happening way too fast with too many competitors and changes in the business environment to predict any financial performance (2020 has been proof of that). The key is to stick to no more than a three-year plan, have focus on the first year and real detail on the coming 90 days, and work on them daily. The value of planning is the clarity of being able to explain your strategy and blueprint, to increase your level of financial success in the current environment. If you have no plan that details your desired outcome or for the year you’re working towards, you’re in a constant state of reacting to the problem. If you are reacting, you’re already too late. Call Phil on 07860 282492 for more advice.


Transformation in 2021

Debbie Moore, an experienced, award-winning high achievers transformational coach, mentor and facilitator, works with executives and leaders. Here she talks compassion, change, connection, becoming anti-fragile and a paradigm shift of possibilities through choice of creating a ‘new normal’ WORDS BY EMILY MILLER


aradoxically, stepping into 2021 with gratitude and grace for the lessons learned in 2020, the process continues to be an awakening one. A shift urging us to reflect and evolve in an unprecedented way for our lifetimes. Deeply appreciating that in embracing ‘hellos’, the ‘goodbyes’ are anything but easy. So many women are yearning to up-level their lives, yet at the same time, dealing with the challenges and dynamic changes of 2020, has left many of us, leaders or otherwise, feeling a loss of autonomy over our own lives. Redundancy, organisational reshaping and restructuring, grief, and a lack of social and physical connection impacting our mental health and wellbeing, can all leave scars at deep levels. “What if there are also choices and opportunities to discover ways of creating autonomy, approaching change compassionately, and utilising this tenderly as a time of growth whilst holding space for the paradox of the range of emotions we experience?” Asks Debbie. Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb identified gains from chaos as a necessity to survive and flourish, calling this ‘antifragile’. Debbie explains: “Change and times of uncertainty don’t have to be entirely undesirable. Just as

human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. “Leaders have not only had to manage this time of intensity for themselves by themselves, many have also needed to approach the uncertainty of change, under the eye of their peers and employees with a powerful influence and responsibility on their hands.” Perhaps this describes you? And you’re also a smart, conscious, caring woman and leader who is committed to realising your potentials, yet you feel weighed down, isolated, frustrated or stuck? Working together through connecting, particularly with female leaders, creating opportunities to collaborate creatively in small and powerful online workshops and circles, Debbie is facilitating a place for transformation and opportunity in 2021. Debbie will help you discover where you are getting stuck, what you need to shift; and the new skills you need to develop to have a breakthrough in your life. “Women empowering women has a transformative power. Sharing in a safe, aligned, creative space evolving ideas and embodying visionary life leadership tools; through


partnerships and nurturing support with like-minded people is where real change can happen – an evolution of sorts. “The empowering process of connecting with each other through our partnerships has always been a noted, even ‘evolutionary’ tool for leaders and here there is real opportunity to reflect and respond to the challenges of the last year by creating a new normal from a compassionate and tender place. “Once started, the ripple effect of growth from this place of curiosity, creativity, in compassionate heart-centred ways through connections and learnings, can grow and spread exponentially to all our relationships in our lives, whether work or personal, a leader or otherwise. We can then draw on this growth becoming more authentically resilient and strengthened – antifragile,” Debbie explains. If your inner-knowing senses a gap between your desires, potential and current experiences, then the experiential suite of transformational workshops is for you. Debbie’s online workshops, ‘Embody Authentic Life Leadership,’ start January 2021. Call her on 07808 783 483 or visit to be part of this transformational opportunity for change. NICHE | 45

Grammar: when to break the rules Professional copywriter says some rules are there to be broken when it comes to engaging with an audience


nglish grammar is complex and, generally, the average person doesn’t speak or write with many of its rules in mind. Oliver LeaWilson worked as a legal caseworker and fiction writer before becoming a professional copywriter. Now with his own business, Copywriter One, Oliver says copywriting is about knowing which rules to break. “Most of the time, a business fits in with everyday language and conversational tone,” he told us. “If you’re writing for a formal institution, proper English has its place, but a lot of the time, we’re using our words to sell.” Doing your market research is key to learning about your audience. And that’s something Oliver delves into with his clients to establish the correct tone

of voice before writing begins. For web, brochure, email, and newsletter copy, Oliver says “short and snappy” is best. “Most people will be reading on their phone. Scrolling through big blocks of text will stop them from engaging. “Keep sentences short and don’t use words just because they sound good. Instead, only use language that describes your product or service exactly. “Use straplines of no more than five words so your customer gets an immediate understanding of what you do. “Talk less about your history and why you’re the best, and more about how you can solve your customers’ problems. “People are jaded with sales

techniques. Keep your claims measured and your words simple. Plus, always use active rather than passive voice to hold engagement. “For copy that flows, use ‘it’s’ instead of ‘it is” and ‘we’re’ instead of ‘we are’. And don’t be afraid to start a sentence with the word ‘and.’” To sum up, do your research and write about what your customer wants to know. And don’t forget to explain how your product or service can improve their life, using language they can understand. To find out more about Oliver’s writing process, call 07985 662 470 or visit

Mindfulness in the everyday J

Prioritising health and wellbeing has never been more important following the pandemic. The ripple effects of uncertainty for the future and isolation from loved ones has been particularly tough on our mental health

o Kendall, The Environment Coach, urges us to redirect our focus to the everyday and the environments we create, both internal and external, to increase our wellbeing. “Mindfulness is a popular concept, with empirical evidence that it can reduce stress, anxiety and even prevent the spiral into depression which accounted for almost 18million lost workdays in 2019/20 alone. Learning to relate differently to our thoughts and emotions is the foundational step to bringing about a change in habits, cultivating a sense of wellbeing that we carry long term,” Jo says. “However, this is not about sitting cross-legged and trying to ‘empty’ the mind, an impossible task in itself, nor is it simply listening to an app. Discovering the myriad of different ways to cultivate a mindful attitude blows apart the myth of ‘getting it wrong’ and the pressures to ‘achieve’ a certain level of wellness start to ease. Walking, talking, listening and even everyday mundane tasks are potential goldmines as we seek to create healthier habits that support wellness.” 46 | NICHE

Having explored and trained in a wide variety of philosophies and alternative therapies to improve her own wellbeing whilst coping with the pressure of a military career, Jo is keen to share this knowledge and break down any stigma that may be in our mind set. “In the West, we are only recently catching up with practices that have been addressing health and wellbeing for thousands of years. We can all access these tools and ‘reboot’ ourselves in ways that are personally and professionally aligned resulting in a positive impact on professional productivity, healthier relationships and better mental health.” Through online workshops, Jo has developed proven methods of teaching individuals how to adopt a greater sense of wellbeing in their lives. Jo also offers bespoke corporate plans for those leaders who know that their personnel are their greatest resource. Find out more about Jo’s online workshops at or call 07561 103 791.


The toxicity

of bad employees

A workplace can be poisoned by a toxic employee – business owners must be vigilant of behaviours and attitudes that could ultimately destroy the company WORDS BY KERRY SMITH


he most powerful person in your business is… not you. You might be the company’s founder or its CEO, but your influence doesn’t come close to that of one toxic employee. Businesses contaminated with the poison of such an employee can suffer immeasurably. You may have the name of an employee lingering in your mind at this point. But why is this employee a bad one, and how are you dealing with them? HR professional and CEO of Harwood HR Solutions, Duncan Turner, says there are three different types of bad employee and how they can be managed. “HR is not a welfare department,” he tells me, “but it’s there to help the business owner and their employees achieve. Business owners can spend too much time worrying about bad employees rather than focusing their time and energy on the good ones. Most owners are unaware that they can fire those toxic employees – there is always a way to manage them out of the business.” Duncan guides us through the three tiers of bad employees and their impact on a business.

TIER THREE Employees in this tier are those who are struggling to perform for whatever reason. This is where good management will come in, helping them to achieve. They generally have a good attitude and are the least of your problems. TIER TWO Here you’ll find employees who perform well, but their attitude stinks. Duncan calls them ‘internal terrorists’ who can go undetected, causing damage behind the scenes. It can be difficult for business owners to make decisions about letting them go, because they are good at their job. TIER ONE These employees are rare, but you need them out in seconds. Their performance is poor and their attitude is one that can lead to tribunal claims if you manage them incorrectly. “When it comes to tier two and three employees, you’re spending a disproportionate amount of time to coach and modify them, dragging you away from other


areas. And, your star performers will become fed up of having to carry those bad employees who can eventually destroy the business,” Duncan said. The problem can stem from, or be made worse by, the employee’s contract. If you’ve downloaded a contract from the internet or handed out a vague or blanket contract, you’re setting yourself up for tribunallevel disputes in the long run. A contract is pointless without handbooks and processes that must be referred to and, likewise, if you’ve downloaded these from the internet, you’ve committed yourself (perhaps unknowingly) to following procedures you might not be able to follow. This could cause friction between you and an employee and possibly ending in legal action being taken. Contracts should be written in detail, with the specific employee and job role in mind and reviewed annually to avoid such scenarios. It could help to avoid toxic attitudes developing too. Call 0203 936 9171 or email for a free HR consultation. NICHE | 47

Ask yourself these five cashflow questions to help recuperate from problematic pandemic finance concerns


he Covid-19 outbreak had businesses of all shapes and sizes fighting for survival, the implications of which now mean that some processes within our businesses come into question. Many are now – after adapting and refining sales and marketing tactics to suit pandemic life – looking to develop the accounting side of their business. Claire Flinders, Mojo Accounting founder and qualified chartered management account who has worked for large companies for over 25 years, said: “Knowing your cashflow and reviewing your accounts on at least a monthly basis is going to be key as we come through the pandemic – particularly as the furlough scheme comes to an end and any grant funding

starts to dry up.” Helping small businesses to access finance expertise that usually only exist for large companies, Claire asks five key questions to help get your books back on track.

Improving cashflow in 2021


Are you taking the time to be as organised as possible? Send out invoices promptly and ensure you are chasing up any late payers consistently. Are you taking advantage of the software available? Use accounting software such as Xero or Quickbooks which links to your bank and makes sure your accounts are kept up to date. From here you can easily check outstanding invoices.



Are you thinking far enough into the future? Produce a cashflow forecast, at least for the next six months. This allows you to take action now to make improvements if you hit any rocky patches. Are you actively seeking ways to save money? Look to cut any costs or arrange new agreements for things like utility bills. There’s no harm in asking to delay any payments or arranging payment plans. Are you finding new ways to make money? You could increase your prices or there may be alternative income streams that you can exploit now that buyer behaviour may have changed in your industry.



For guidance on improving cashflow, call Mojo Accounting on 0116 243 6537 or email

What not to do in 2021 Comparing yourself to others and planning unrealistic goals isn’t helping anyone to develop and grow


ometimes you’re just as well to stay still for a while before pushing forward, according to Beacon Business Consultants owner Tanya Hextall who helps employees and company owners align their personal and business goals. The managing director of Total Industrial Engraving, former finance manager, and now business consultant helps those who want to grow their success but might have just been getting by due to a lack of alignment between work and lifestyle. She said: “People think they have to grow every year, but sometimes it’s OK for it to just tick along because it fits. I’ve had periods of my life where I’ve had children and the business stood still for a while and that’s what 48 | NICHE

worked for me at the time.” If you’re being honest with yourself, aiming to grow your business by 20% or achieve a big promotion over the next few years as well as wanting to get married and have children within that time, is probably not a realistic alignment. “When talking about one goal, you shouldn’t close your mind off to the other. There’s no point trying to achieve goals if they don’t align realistically; you’ll only set yourself up for disappointment and damage your self-esteem,” Tanya warns. “It’s especially hard with social media pressure – seeing people’s success without knowing their journey can be thoroughly depressing. You can’t mark yourself against them,

they might have got lucky and started making hand sanitiser before the pandemic, you just don’t know.” If you’re struggling to figure out if your business and personal goals align or not, Tanya suggests putting pen to paper, drawing a line down the middle, and writing them out side by side. Get a friend’s opinion for accountability too. For advice on business and personal growth, call 0116 4977 375, email or visit


That’s right, we’re celebrating our 2020 awards ceremony in 2021. It was a coronacoaster of a year last year and, without making light of the situation, we’re sure everyone is in need of some congratulatory cheer as we brace ourselves for taking on the New Year.


or the first time, the event will be broadcast live on Zoom featuring speeches from headline sponsor Assured Energy, along with the other sponsors, ambassadors, judges, finalists, and winners. The events team at Cross Productions, which runs the event every year at Athena in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter, feels grateful to be able to hold the event virtually when so many productions and live acts were forced to call it a day due to the pandemic. Bringing together local names from across Leicestershire, the awards judging panel this year included Glynis Wright MBE, Head of Family Law at Nelsons; Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, Chairman of Morningside Pharmaceuticals; Andrea Gray, Managing Director at PPL PRS Ltd; Sam Haggar, Director at The Beautiful Pubs Collective and Hospitality Minds; Ian Borley, Chief Executive Officer at Borley Consulting;

Scott Charlish Divisional Director at Brewin Dolphin; Jigna Varu Chief Commercial Officer at Micro-Fresh; and Allison Tripney, Community Director at Leicester City Football Club. The Niche Business Awards ceremony was created to celebrate local success across a range of sectors from independent retail through to the charity sector – sixteen categories acknowledge success across the sectors. But after last year, we asked ourselves what success really means. We put this question to the Niche Business Awards’ sponsors and ambassadors. Each representative gave a considered answer that took into account the lifestyle and business changes they’ve experienced because of coronavirus. We showcase here in our awards feature what success means to them, what they’ve learnt, and how the Niche Business Awards has brought us all together.

Don’t forget to join us on Friday, January 22 at 7pm Tickets can be purchased at for £10, all ticket sale funds and money raised on the night will be donated to the winner of the Charity of the Year award.

Assured Energy Headline Sponsor

Wanting to give back to the Leicestershire community, utilities company Assured Energy signed up as headline sponsor of the Niche Business Awards 2020 ssured Energy acts as a separate division of the Consultus International Group which serves the utility needs of sizable corporations. With over 100 years of experience between just five members of staff, Assured Energy was born to take care of local SMEs. Gleb Smatko, Group Marketing Manager at Assured Energy, said: “We want to give something back to the business community by helping and supporting them, so it made perfect sense to marry up the two by becoming the headline sponsor.” The company has supported local organisations throughout 2020, including donating to and promoting the work of the Hope Against Cancer charity, as well as informing its utility clients and the general

HOW DOES ASSURED ENERGY DEFINE SUCCESS? “At Assured Energy, success is measured by three categories: the health and happiness of our people, positive customer feedback, and being transparent and open while conducting our business. If we can achieve all three, we will continue to grow and flourish.” 50 | NICHE

public about how to save money on utility bills. “Saving money on energy and water bills is nothing new,” Gleb explained, “but building a good relationship and trust with your clients is the real differentiator and key to success. Patience, empathy, and trust are paramount to a good business relationship. It’s just as important to support our customers’ mental health as well as their financial wellbeing. “We have worked tirelessly with all the stakeholders, both internal and external alike, to ensure that our working practices are of the standard that is required due to the global changes. During these unprecedented times, we have grown even closer as a team, and our customer experience has been better than we could have ever imagined. We’ve created a customer ‘hunt group’ helpline number for new and existing business customers to contact us for support and guidance in relation to the current challenges they are facing.” When asked about the turbulent year of 2020 and what positives can be taken from it, Gleb said: “Community recognition is always important, especially in the tough times that we are going through right now. We recognise the Niche Business Awards as a unique platform to highlight great companies in Leicestershire.” On the night of the virtual Niche Business Awards, the headline sponsor will announce the Niche Business Awards Community Champion winner – a special recognition awarded to an individual who has been handpicked by Cross Productions and Assured Energy themselves. Join us on January 22 to find out who they’ve chosen.


the Sponsors

BP Legal

sponsoring Employer of the Year Having won an award herself last year, Bhumika Parmar was eager to spread the joy in her role as sponsor of the Employer of the Year category ne of the key ideologies Niche implements is ‘success breeds success’ – I could not agree more,” said Bhumika Parmar, who runs BP Legal and won Outstanding Woman in Professional Services at the East Midlands Women’s Awards 2020. “As an employer myself, I understand the importance of creating good working relationships amongst peers and staff. I have always said my staff are the backbone of my business and I feel passionate about ensuring the hard work they carry out is recognised and rewarded accordingly. “I felt that by sponsoring the Employer of the Year category, I would be able to relate to and understand the employer’s position and obtain an insight as to how they too support, progress and honour their staff during their career.” It’s not just the company which is handed the award that Bhumika feels is a winner at the Niche Business Awards: “Each application and entry, whether they win or not, allows us to recognise, acknowledge and reinforce their contributions made within society or amongst the workforce. This helps build their reputation within the community and boosts morale.” Believing that to succeed in your own business, you must also give your time to other businesses, the team is part of two Business Network International (BNI) groups, works closely with women’s aid charity The Zinthiya Trust, gives advice to businesses and individuals in need, and assists at the local police station from time to time. Bhumika added: “We have witnessed many strong and successful businesses collapse during this unprecedented time and sadly,

HOW DOES BP LEGAL DEFINE SUCCESS? “Success for me is the end result (no matter how big or small) of reaching a personal goal. The beauty of success is that there is no set limit, deadline or criteria to meet and can be achieved in various ways such as health, success, career – not just financially. So long as you accomplish what you set out to do, you are successful in doing so.”

the lives of loved ones have also been lost. I have noticed higher action being taken as a community to help the elderly, vulnerable and high risk people, whether it is carrying out their weekly shop, making food and leaving it on their doorstep, or simply having a conversation so they don’t feel alone.” Proud of BP Legal’s charitable activities, her involvement in the Niche Business Awards, and Leicestershire communities coming together, Bhumika said: “These positive steps taken show our empathy towards one another and highlights our commitment to remain united and tackle this virus together.” NICHE | 51

ER Recruitment sponsoring Innovation in Business

The recruitment company is celebrating the community as a whole after the events of 2020 through its association with the Niche Business Awards and East Midlands Chamber ast Midlands Chamber of Commerce President and owner of ER Recruitment Eileen Richards MBE says she’s all about connecting people – it’s why she came on board with the Niche Business Awards 2020 as a category sponsor, and why she’s been so heavily involved with EMC and Enterprising Women over the years. “We would like to celebrate our Leicester community as a whole for the way they have supported one another throughout this tough time,” she told us. “One thing that has been notable throughout is the solidarity of the people of Leicester, there have been so many good news stories. “Scott and the team at East Midlands Chamber have worked tirelessly and provided

HOW DOES ER RECRUITMENT DEFINE SUCCESS? “Developing and maintaining relationships. It is important to celebrate success and supporting others from your personal achievements.” 52 | NICHE

webinars and virtual events to ensure members could enhance their skills and remain connected. And the Niche Business Awards is another way to bring people together. “The Niche Business Awards bring together the diverse businesses and professionals across Leicester to celebrate our successes. It’s a fantastic way to celebrate the incredible talent we possess within our city. The awards cater for businesses of all sectors and sizes, meaning it’s a ceremony that everybody can get involved in.” As a business, ER Recruitment has discovered ways to stay active in the industry during a crisis, and now feels more prepared for any potential challenges in the future. While some of the team were furloughed, the company as a whole remained creative, undergoing a rebrand and adopting a new look and attitude. Eileen says the biggest adaption the team has made has been becoming entirely virtual, whilst remaining as focused as ever. Their online recruitment drive has been successful so far, having become the exclusive recruitment partner for Everards Meadows. Eileen said: “Going from meetings with candidates face to face to meeting them via video call has been a drastic change for us, but something our team has adapted to incredibly well. Technology is the new normal and we are embracing that going forward.”


the Sponsors


sponsoring Best Family Business It was ‘business as usual’ when it came to supporting other organisations and causes for Everards last year, and they continue to support the Niche Business Awards 2020, which airs live online on January 22 he Everards company name has spanned over 170 years in Leicester. The company is built on a philosophy that’s been in place for many years – it’s what the team continues to judge their success against, according to Erika Hardy, Head of Marketing at Everards. Being an independent family business itself, Everards aligned its name with the Niche Business Awards’ Best Family Business category. Erika said: “This has been a really tough year, but it’s still important to look back at what you’ve achieved and celebrate success. It’s also a great opportunity to bring people together, albeit virtually, to hear from others and be inspired. The Leicestershire business community is fantastic, so we need these opportunities to get together.” With 168 pubs, Everards does a good job of engaging with the public and supporting local communities. “Our business is dependent on supporting other businesses. We’re really proud to partner with lots of organisations and it really is a case of being strong together – you learn from each other and grow. We see that every day, with the fantastic businessowners running their pubs during ‘normal times’ – but of course, especially this year. They’ve been a strong support network for each other and us. “We have a fantastic team who have really shone this year, and we’ve been hugely inspired by the work on our independent business owners shifting their commercial model to takeaway services, pop-up shops, food banks, and online quizzes. The resilience and creativity

HOW DOES EVERARDS DEFINE SUCCESS? “It’s individual and should relate to your business purpose. Are you achieving what you set out to do and proud of the way you work? It’s often a feeling, knowing you’re having a positive impact on others and making a difference.” of people will always come through.” The Everard Family Foundation has supported Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland for almost 30 years, and a £50k donation was made by the foundation at the start of the pandemic. Many of Everards’ business owners volunteered their pubs as collection points for donations to be passed to Age UK’s shops. The company has also had its team members run employability skills and interview skills sessions in support of Leicestershire Cares, and their pubs continued to support the cause by operating food banks and giving treats to key workers. About the year of 2020, Erika Hardy said: “It was all been very much business as usual as far as supporting causes went last year.” NICHE | 53

Growth Partners

sponsoring Digital Business of the Year This sponsor looks forward to an evening of positivity after a year of hardship he Great British determination has definitely come to the fore,” said Scott Read, CEO of Growth Partners, about the collective fortitude of the businesses and individuals that have supported one another over the last year. He signed Growth Partners up as the face of the Digital Business of the Year award, finding it a fitting tribute to the efforts of local companies in surviving 2020. Scott told us: “We chose the category because it resonates so well with how all businesses will need to operate moving forward. Excellence in this area is not only a testament to that business, but can so often provide invaluable digital expertise to a host of other businesses, streamlining efficiencies and making businesses more profitable. “It has paid to be flexible, adaptable,

HOW DOES GROWTH PARTNERS DEFINE SUCCESS? “Moving forward is success in 2020. Every business has its own version of what good looks like, and we believe in supporting that. Whether it’s global domination, charitable enterprise, or even employee satisfaction, only that business owner can really say what it is for them.” 54 | NICHE

and open during this time. In addition, it has become even more clear that you have to find a blend between your business needs and the needs of your employees. Everyone has faced uncertainty this year, and whilst making business decisions, it’s been imperative to think about how your employees are feeling and how these decisions will impact them. “At Growth Partners we are striving for a profitable and sustainable business where employees feel happy, fulfilled, and appreciated. I think that more people are thinking about how they can add value, improve their businesses, and offer employees even more support and opportunities. There will never be a better time for businesses to adopt better employee engagement processes and a more fluid approach to agile working.” On who has impressed him this year, Scott mentioned the unenviable position of Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has had “the fate of so many balanced between his two hands” – a situation Scott admits he would not have liked to be in. More locally, he commends the owner of Orton’s Brasserie, Guy Kersey, who he says is always smiling, even whilst establishing a new restaurant “in the middle of the worst trading conditions”. The Niche Business Awards category sponsor describes 2020 as a “shocker in so many ways,” but is now ready to give out some deserving good news at the online ceremony on January 22. Scott said: “Awards like this give us a chance to celebrate – something which was in short supply last year. The Niche Business Awards should give everyone who attends a chance to be positively distracted from the norm, even if it’s just for one night.”


the Sponsors

Hollingsworths sponsoring Best New Business Company director and Best New Business sponsor shares what he’s missed throughout lockdown hen the opportunity to recognise the best new business in Leicester arose, Greg Hollingsworth, Director at Hollingsworths Solicitors, grabbed it with both hands. “Taking the time to celebrate the best of Leicestershire at the start of 2021,” he tells us, “will be a great way to start the year, and hopefully will be the start of a strong recovery for the Leicestershire economy.” With an array of clients across many industries, Greg is aware of just how much the pandemic has impacted upon so many business and says Hollingsworths’ role is to support clients in the good times and the challenging times. Most recently, the company resolved a client’s issue that had been causing huge anxiety within their business and affecting their home life too. He commented: “Seeing that anxiety lift was a special moment that we shared.” Gratefully recognising the positives he has himself experienced, despite the events of 2020, Greg added: “We were fortunate to be busy all the way through, and we managed to maintain our standards in delivering our services, despite all the changes with people working from home and some staff shielding. Many of our clients have managed to adapt and still thrive during the ongoing difficulties. “The positivity of some of our clients who have been worse hit has been so admirable. Working with positive people is a very good thing. Where we have had people struggling, I have done my best to support them and give them the help that they need.” When it comes to his own team, he

explains he strives to lead from the front: “I never ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do. I am better with my team working around me, and not remotely. I certainly missed them when they were working at home.” Greg has also missed getting out to support at charity events, but has been involved in online fundraisers including for LAMP, for which Greg has recently been appointed as an ambassador, and gives a special mention to local charity advocate Tracey Miller who we sadly lost this year.

HOW DOES HOLLINGSWORTHS DEFINE SUCCESS? “Success is about making our clients’ lives and businesses better, and creating an environment for our team that is enjoyable to work in.”

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sponsoring Best Customer Service The 2019 winner has returned to help choose who should win the 2020 Best Customer Service title est Customer Service 2019 award winner Chris Cain of IT company Kazzoo, chose to sponsor the category at the 2020 awarding event. He commented: “As this is a really important element of my business, I felt that it was the perfect category for me to become involved with, as I know what is required to be a successful nominee.” Chris and the business have come a long way since winning the award last year, having made big changes over the course of the pandemic. One particular partnership to come out of 2020 has reformed the way Kazzoo operates. “This year, I have established a business relationship with an HR Adviser to whom I offer IT support. I am now using their services to help my business with the paperwork involved with recruitment and growing my business further. “I have seen many local businesses find

HOW DOES KAZZOO DEFINE SUCCESS? “Success is not about money, it’s knowing that you’ve built an excellent reputation and are being recommended by others for your services.” 56 | NICHE

ways to change the way in which they work, to enable them to stay in the market place, at a time when others have sadly been unable to continue. “One of my clients, swim school Core Aquatics, is owned by Nicole Martin. Despite her business being effectively ‘shut down’ for the lockdown periods, she has not let this stop her building and improving her business with new services to offer her customers, arranging further training for her existing team, and recruiting new team members to help cope with the shortages that are caused by isolation restrictions. All of this means that when she is able to return, with a safe environment for her pupils, she will ensure that work is available for her large team of selfemployed teachers and lifeguards.” As well as being an enthusiastic advocate for local businesses, Chris can usually be found supporting a charity event or two (or three), bringing the local community together with his fervent personality. One charity in particular is close to his heart. He has held three separate Lockdown Charity Curry Nights alongside restaurant Chutney Ivy to raise funds for Hope Against Cancer. Chris delivered Chutney Ivy’s food for the online events across the county during September, October and November of last year. On why he chooses to spend so much of his spare time in this way, he said: “I believe that it is important to give local businesses recognition for their hard work and help to raise their profile.” It’s one of the reasons why he also chose to sponsor the Best Customer Service award.


the Sponsors

Leicester Castle Business School

sponsoring Best Small Business With programmes specifically designed to encourage local businesses to ‘go beyond business as usual’, it seemed fitting that Leicester Castle Business School would sponsor Best Small Business mall businesses are a true engine of growth in our economy and are becoming increasingly important in a rapidly changing world which requires innovative ideas, services, and products. We know that many of our graduates do go on to start their own businesses, and we want to recognise the importance of this,” Associate Professor at Leicester Castle Business School, Dave Tapp, commented. Dave supports and praises Community and Civic Engagement at De Montfort University, which organises more than 20,000 hours of volunteer work in the community and delivers around 100 projects in Leicester each year. During the pandemic, more than 250 staff and students delivered food parcels and set up a distribution centre in the Watershed for PPE. The pandemic has, above all, taught Dave that we need to be kinder to one another: “People can embrace change more easily than we think. But they need to feel properly supported – not only through development activities, but also in terms of their health and wellbeing.” Leicester Castle Business School considers itself an important part of the local business community, committed to providing high-quality business education, training and consultancy, and supporting local businesses to fulfil their potential. Dave says that the school can feed back into their educational programmes with cutting-edge research and work collaboratively with businesses on projects to build success and grow together. The organisation has also been fortunate that local businesses have helped to enrich

the learning of students through live projects, placements, and guest lectures, which have helped to connect businesses together with other like-minded entrepreneurs, providing support and assistance, and helping to foster new working relationships. Dave said: “It has been amazing and inspiring to see the fantastic community spirit, both in-house and externally to the university, even more so during these difficult and challenging times. It highlights the power of collaboration – better together. “During these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever to recognise the efforts and achievements of people in the industry and ensure that the whole business community learns from that success. The Niche Business Awards inspire others to navigate a way through these difficult times and to look to a better future.”

HOW DOES LEICESTER CASTLE BUSINESS SCHOOL DEFINE SUCCESS? “Success is defined in many ways. Success for us is a function of the achievements that our graduates enjoy and the world-leading research that has real value and significance for society.” NICHE | 57


The Lettings & Sales Business

sponsoring Business Growth Achieving outstanding growth over the past year themselves, The Lettings and Sales Business Co-Directors Jaz Kaur and Narinder Nijjar hope to inspire company growth in this year’s Business Growth award winner he team at The Lettings and Sales Business experienced rapid growth in their first year and a half in business. They gained several new additions to their cohort, a 200% increase in their managed portfolio, and were finalists in the East Midlands Chamber Leicestershire Business Awards 2020. They’re hoping to share what they’ve learnt and inspire others to achieve their version of success. Jaz Kaur said: “[The Niche Business Awards] is a fantastic initiative from a market-leading company which recognises the Leicester business community.

HOW DOES THE LETTINGS & SALES BUSINESS DEFINE SUCCESS? “Success is continually raising the bar and seeking excellence in your business. It has made us better leaders by ensuring we constantly evolve and meet the challenges that are posed, head-on.” 58 | NICHE

“We chose the Business Growth category as it’s something close to our hearts. We are a new business and we know the challenges that are faced to grow your business, especially during these testing times. “Awards are more important than ever. They bring a kind of normality back to what’s been a very challenging year and it recognises the business owners who have excelled throughout this time.” Excelling themselves in spite of this turbulent year, The Lettings and Sales Business team have become patrons of the East Midlands Chamber, and have a say in local business issues through their relationship with the Bank of England. The team says it has also generated in excess of £80,000 for other businesses and loves to see local companies and individuals thrive. “During 2020 we were impressed with Ninder Johal, who connects wealth creators internationally through publishing and events. He evolved his brand so that it didn’t need to rely on live events, which obviously didn’t take place last year,” Jaz told us. A helpful word of advice for other business owners, from his own experience, Narinder said: “Empower your team and make them part of the decision making process. It keeps them engaged and they feel like they are contributing to the future success of the business.”
















the Sponsors



The Miller Partnership

sponsoring Professional Services The partnership that has brought joy to business and charitable communities in Leicester sponsors the Professional Services category racey told me to,” was Pete Miller’s affectionately humorous response to being asked why he chose to sponsor the Niche Business Awards. He and his late wife Tracey, who sadly died last year, have been avid supporters of the event since it all began six years ago. Pete, who founded The Miller Partnership with Tracey ten years ago, said: “I chose to sponsor the Professional Services category because that’s the field I’m in. Tracey actually did feel differently but I won that particular discussion!” The couple became well-known locally, having made many commitments to other Leicestershire initiatives, programmes, and organisations over the years, particularly charities Sound Café, which provides a safe space for vulnerable adults, and Soft Touch Arts, which provides artistic activities and opportunities for disadvantaged children and young people. The idea of giving back to the community doesn’t stop at charitable causes for Pete; He applies the same mindset to the business community too. “When I hear a business has a need that someone I know can cater to, I will make a referral. The important thing to me is that I don’t make referrals on the expectation of them coming back to me, I’m just doing it to make sure people get what they need.” During a time when it’s more difficult to make those referrals, Pete said: “What I’ve learnt from the pandemic is how precious your relationships are,” which is testament to the years he shared with Tracey. “Working from home meant we spent all day every day together rather than separately as

HOW DOES THE MILLER PARTNERSHIP DEFINE SUCCESS? “Are you happy with the way your life is? Do you enjoy your work as well as your leisure time? Do you look forward to the next day? That’s success. Some people might bring in things like wealth but I personally feel you’re as wealthy as you feel rather than as what your bank account says.”

before. I used to travel all around the country and might be away for two or three nights a week. I’ve become more time-rich and would like to be able to maintain that going forward. I was always going to be looking at how much travelling I really need to do once the pandemic has passed.” Thinking ahead to the virtual NBA ceremony, Pete added: “During a time when it’s much harder to socialise and to recognise people’s achievements, to put something on like this in a virtual way reinforces the importance of recognising people, especially since we’re all working our way throughout the most difficult time probably any of us can remember.” NICHE | 59

Morningside Pharmaceuticals sponsoring Leicestershire Charity of the Year

The Chairman of healthcare company Morningside Pharmaceuticals, who has won two Niche Business Awards previously, is back to sponsor the Charity of the Year award ovid-19 and its impact on the world challenged the idea of the word ‘luxury’ for Morningside Pharmaceuticals Chairman Dr Nik Kotecha OBE. Reading recently that luxury was the rare and expensive that seems unattainable, he told us: “We now realise that luxuries were those little things that we did not know how to value when we had them. And now that they are gone, we miss them most. “Luxury is now about being healthy, being

HOW DOES MORNINGSIDE PHARMACEUTICALS DEFINE SUCCESS? “In business terms, success is typically financial, which enables the company to deliver profitability, job creation, as well as providing safe and stable livelihoods for our employees. For a pharmaceuticals business like Morningside, success is also about providing choice to patients, cost-effective medicines, and ensuring patient safety is paramount.” 60 | NICHE

able to walk around your local area whenever you like, breathing without wearing a mask, and meeting with family and friends. Life is precious and we should appreciate more the simple luxuries that we have.” With that in mind, Dr Kotecha chose to sponsor the Charity of the Year award as a way to give back to the organisations that have fought through the pandemic. Giving back for many years, and making it part of the company ethos, Morningside Pharmaceuticals invests in corporate social responsibility and focuses on making society and communities better. On why the Niche Business Awards ties in with his company’s values, Dr Kotecha said: “We’re particularly proud to support the Charity of the Year category as it’s very important that not-for-profit organisations also get the recognition they deserve. Morningside is a big supporter of the business and local communities, so the Niche Business Awards align well with our organisational values.” The winner of Businessman of the Year 2018 and Community Champion 2019 awards went on to say: “Covid-19 has affected all walks of life, from our own employees at Morningside, the public, charities, as well as NHS and social care workers. The awards provide some much needed ‘feelgood factor’ at a time when this is in short supply.”


the Sponsors

Paradigm Wills and Legal Services sponsoring Businesswoman of the Year

The events, hospitality, and charity sectors have been particularly hard hit according to these co-founders, which is why they became a sponsor o any company in the events and hospitality industry that has managed to keep afloat during the pandemic, Bhavin Gandhi and Satwinder Sidhu of Paradigm Wills & Legal Services would like to say a heartfelt ‘well done’ to them. Although they understand from their own experience of Covid-19 the struggles that most businesses have faced, they believe this particular industry has suffered considerably. Bhavin explained that it’s because of this that he feels honoured to sponsor the Niche Business Awards: “I wanted to give back and support firms that have supported us throughout the last few years. Leicester has a fabulous business community and Cross Productions has done well to bring the community together, and to be part of this felt right. “It’s very important to recognise people and businesses during this current climate. We have all seen businesses strive or some, unfortunately, go under and now it will mean a lot – more so than ever – to show support to those who have done exceptionally well.” On why he chose to sponsor the Businesswoman of the Year category, he added: “Running a business of our own, we know how hard it is and we wanted to sponsor either businessman or woman of the year. We eventually decided on ‘businesswoman’ because we have seen the fantastic work of businesses owned and run by women and want to encourage more to put their great ideas into practice, especially after this year.” The decision may in part have been

HOW DOES PARADIGM WILLS AND LEGAL SERVICES DEFINE SUCCESS? “Being happy, achieving goals, fulfilling dreams. Success is different for us all, so it’s hard to define it. Simply, if someone achieves what they wanted to achieve, then that is success and we should celebrate all together.” influenced by a new arrival in Bhavin’s family: “The birth of my daughter has been the most positive thing to happen to me last year. Nothing else compares to that.” The co-founders recognise that the charity sector has also suffered greatly, so they have continued to support the likes of Hope Against Cancer, Menphys, and Zinthiya Trust during the pandemic. Bhavin explained their motivation for this: “Life is too short and if in any way you can help, don’t wait to be asked, offer it.”

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Pattersons Commerical Law sponsoring Businessman of the Year

The creative solutions focused law firm has been a Niche Business Award winner in the past s a past winner in the Best New Business category, we recognise the importance of winning an award as prestigious as one of the Niche Business Awards,” Rik Pancholi of Pattersons Commercial Law told us. On why he chose to become a sponsor of the event, he said: “Winning an award can bring a level of recognition to a business and when we found ourselves in a position where we could become involved with the Niche Business Awards as a sponsor, we decided to jump straight in. “The Awards provide a sense of recognition to businesses and during these challenging times, recognition for the hard work owners are

HOW DOES PATTERSONS COMMERCIAL LAW DEFINE SUCCESS? “Waking up in the morning and being surrounded by love, hugs, and kisses. This is not a business answer but is very much central to me personally.” Rik Pancholi 62 | NICHE

putting into their businesses is fundamentally important. For everyone involved, the awards will provide a sense of acknowledgment that they are going in the right direction and hopefully will bring a sense of normality to business.” Rik, who runs the firm from Pear Tree Business Park in Ratby, received the Best New Business Award in 2018. He’s ensured the business also thrived two years later during 2020. “The pandemic has taught me that we have to trust in our vision, beliefs, and have resolve. We need to trust in the people around us and provide support in ways that people do not yet recognise they need. It’s not been easy but I’ve adapted and embraced the new way of doing things.” The new normal being experienced across the world has not affected the way Rik sees it. His attitude to business, community, and supporting others hasn’t changed. “People are inherently good-natured and we can see instances of many positive outcomes of the coronavirus over the past year. These range from spending time with family and friends – time is the one thing we cannot make more of – through to people buying their first home or getting married. We’ve advised and supported people starting their own businesses or buying businesses as a new chapter in their own destiny. There is always a silver lining.”


the Sponsors

Amanda Daly: Turnaround CEO sponsoring Rising Star

The business coach says the Niche Business Awards help discover “exceptional people” aptivating in her approach, business coach Amanda Daly, has been supporting business leaders for the past four years, helping them turn their business back into the dream it always was. She works closely with many local SMEs and has become well-known in networking scenes. It’s due to her tenacious determination to help people be the best that they can be that she decided to sponsor the Rising Star award. Amanda said: “The Rising Star category is exactly that. It seeks those exceptional people to look out for in the future and those who are highly likely to continue to go on and do exceptional things for themselves and others around them. “My business is built on supporting other businesses, sponsoring the awards is a way of giving back and giving recognition to those who truly deserve it. There are so many wonderful business owners and I think it is really important to celebrate those that shine out and go beyond. “Right now, it is so easy to forget all of the good that is happening around us. Sadly, we cannot celebrate in person but it’s still so important to celebrate and recognise achievements.” As a trustee board member for charity Menphys, and a member of the faculty of business and law advisory board, Amanda is always keen to share her knowledge with the business and charitable communities in every possible avenue. One thing she’s learnt over

HOW DOES THE TURNAROUND CEO DEFINE SUCCESS? “There is no one definition of success for me. Success comes in many forms, however if you are clear on a goal and an outcome for whatever it may be, then you are more likely to see success and truly take pride and faith in what you do.” the past year, which she has been instilling in those she works with, is that always believing and placing faith in yourself pays off. “During the pandemic, I’ve learnt that holding faith and belief in yourself is so important. It is so easy to lose that in more uncertain times. Anyone can be great when times are good, however when times are not easy that is when we see true and great leadership.” Find out who the exceptional Rising Star of the Niche Business Awards 2020 is at the virtual event on January 22. NICHE | 63

the Sponsors

Torr Waterfield sponsoring Educational Excellence The accountants have supported businesses with finance advice throughout lockdown, now they hope to support businesses in a new way wards are extremely important right now,” Torr Waterfield accountant Mike Waterfield said. “In these times it is very easy to be forgotten with no business face-to-face meetings happening. The awards remind us that we are not alone and that some great work is being carried on.” The business advisers at the city centre accounting firm have learnt that the viability and sustainability of a business have relied on the variety of support available at this time, whether that’s in terms of financial, emotional, or physical wellbeing. The realisation of this is something that has backed up why they chose to become a sponsor of the Niche Business Awards. Mike explained: “This is a great new initiative for us. We wanted to showcase the resilience of local Leicester businesses and how they’ve achieved and succeeded throughout 2020, and we hope our alliance with the

HOW DOES TORR WATERFIELD DEFINE SUCCESS? “Success at the moment is being able to ride out the pandemic, and remain focused and cost-conscious.” 64 | NICHE

awards supports them further. There is also so much diversity in Leicester and the Niche Business Awards is a fantastic way to tell other businesses about this. “Education has been a sector that has suffered significantly because of coronavirus. We hope that by sponsoring the Educational Excellence category, we will have brought some awareness to the affected organisations. The accountants have been helping Leicester businesses to apply for government support in the form of loans and grants since the first lockdown came into effect in March last year. “The pandemic has reminded us of the importance of every trade and profession. We all work and live together and we all need each other no matter what we all do.” Mike and fellow director Mark Torr researched and secured fundraising avenues and cost-cutting initiatives that each of their clients could utilise, but they also had to find new ways of working themselves. The team has increased its remote working capability and has adapted to non-paper systems, many of which will be adopted permanently. It means the team will be suitably set up and prepped for the virtual awards ceremony that will take place on January 22.


the Ambasadors

ADT Taxis From innovating with new services to selling the business, the owner of ADT Taxis wants to continue to celebrate positivity with the Niche Business Awards hen we asked David Hunter, who owns and runs ADT Taxis, which local business or business leader had particularly impressed him over the last turbulent year, his response was typically comedic. “Me, as I’m getting through it.” he replied, then continued: “Joke. Any leader that is getting through the pandemic is impressive to me.” David’s witty ways and popular taxi firm have made him well-known within local business circles. He has been a guest at many a Niche Business Awards ceremony, and this year has taken up a role as an ambassador for the event. He’s done it because he believes it plays a significant role – not only after a year such as 2020, but in each and every year in the event’s six-year history. He said: “I think they are really important as they give the business community a morale boost in uncertain times.” ADT Taxis likes to play its own role within the community by sponsoring other events, initiatives, and projects: “We have supported many local businesses in our supply chain from car suppliers to social media companies.” The last year has taught David and his company that Zoom meetings are a great way to introduce yourself and that costs can be cut in places you least expected, as well as how to adapt quickly. “It’s been a tough nine months, but we have in that time launched a food delivery app,

HOW DOES ADT TAXIS DEFINE SUCCESS? “When something fails, and then you do it again better with it succeeding.” changed our taxi app to do click and collect, and we are now operating more last-minute mile deliveries. We’ve seen a lot more people using taxis as they feel safer than on public transport due to our driver screens and regular cleaning of our vehicles done in between each booking. “We have also sold the business, and now we are owned by a PLC which is buying other taxi companies around the UK to create the largest network of companies in the land.” Looking at 2020 overall, David says the best thing to come out of the pandemic is how many businesses and individuals have, like the Niche business Awards, looked to help out and spend closer to home.

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Armstrongs The company celebrated success of its own last year and looks forward to seeing others do the same at the online event tewart Warden didn’t think of himself as a leader at the start of the pandemic. It became clear quite quickly that he needed to reassess. Adapting to the realisation that he was a leader to his team was quite the learning curve. “It was really tough,” the Director of Armstrongs Wealth Planning told us. “But I think the need to adapt to your surroundings was the biggest learning point for me. All of a sudden the creature comforts of stable technology, efficient processes, and office camaraderie were taken away and it took a lot to prepare

HOW DOES ARMSTRONGS DEFINE SUCCESS? “Success is subjective to everyone, but I personally see it as being in a position to provide myself and those around me with opportunities to grow, achieve, or become better – whether that’s providing the opportunity to my family to explore new things in life or providing opportunities for my staff to grow and excel in their careers.” 66 | NICHE

and manage my team through this.” Armstrongs attracted a record number of new clients in 2020 and the team has passed significant milestones in their development throughout the year. Stewart used last year as an opportunity to press pause, re-evaluate, and improve some of his developmental areas, which is where the Niche Business Awards came in. “The Niche Business Awards has a great history in providing a platform to recognise some really great businesses – it was fantastic to be able to support them and continue this trend. “Everyone has had a tough year, some more than most, but it’s a chance to show that businesses in Leicester and the surrounding area are still here. As a community, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate overcoming a tough year and sharing the success; not just businesses thriving, but also some businesses for surviving.” Having grown up in Hinckley, Stewart feels fortunate to be involved in Hinckley Round Table, which has given him a channel to put his energy into during lockdowns. He commented: “Working alongside other businessowners locally, we were able to raise money to provide key workers with meals from local takeaways, and provide hand cream and PPE equipment to local care homes and medical facilities. More recently, we have been able to donate to local food banks to support those who need it most. This has allowed me to give back a bit to my community and has given me something else to focus on when I ‘turn off’ from my business.”


the Ambassadors

Begbies Traynor Keen to champion the ‘thriving, vibrant business scene’ in Leicestershire, Begbies Traynor Leicester became an ambassador in celebration of the work of individuals who make the county’s corporate community tick usinesses of all sizes need support more than ever right now,” said Martin Buttriss, partner at the restructuring and insolvency firm. “It is important to recognise where companies have gone above and beyond to deliver for their customers. The business community has much to be proud of in our region, but especially so in its collective response to the Covid-19 challenge. “There are many unsung business heroes across our region who quietly get on with their business and inspire us with their drive and determination to succeed.” The firm has seen a rise in businesses seeking advice on how to tackle operational challenges this year and they say they have noticed a change in business leader behaviour: “The crisis has brought home to business leaders the importance of focusing on assiduous cashflow and wider financial management. “For any business, the crisis has really underlined the value of robust systems, strong people networks, and the importance of operational agility. The advent of Covid-19 came as a huge shock to many firms. but it has been really encouraging to see so many get to grips with the challenges of the new normal so swiftly.” The Niche Business Awards exist to benefit and support the local business community, which is commonly what attracts Leicestershire companies to support the event. Begbies Traynor Leicester, in its role as a restructuring

HOW DOES BEGBIES TRAYNOR DEFINE SUCCESS? “For us, working to help restructure a struggling but viable business to enable them to move forward and safeguard jobs for the future represents the pinnacle of success.” and insolvency specialist, also supports businesses large and small across the region. On how the firm has benefited from supporting other businesses, Martin said: “Working to understand their challenges and opportunities always helps us be better practitioners. “Despite the many obvious challenges the region has faced as the crisis has evolved, it has been hugely encouraging to see so many local businesses come together to work collaboratively and pivot operations to seek out new markets. “There is huge resilience within Leicestershire businesses and this will serve them well as they look to move forward.”

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Glynis Wright MBE, Head of Family Law at Nelsons, Leicester

Involved in the Niche Business Awards since the very first event in 2014, Glynis Wright has become a true advocate of the annual ceremony ategory sponsors, headline sponsors, and outstanding winners of the Best Professional Services category, Glynis Wright & Co has done it all when it comes to the Niche Business Awards. But one title Glynis Wright MBE had yet to take on was that of being a Niche Business Awards


“Success is a very subjective concept. Other people may define success as how much money you have, the turnover of your business, the house that you live in. But in reality, you have to define your success by whether you are truly happy, and by understanding what makes you happy. For most of us, success is the balance between that rush of excitement we get from running a very successful business to being able to appreciate our families and our friends and to find the time to enjoy the happiness they bring. Frankly, I doubt there are many people who manage to achieve that level of success and balance, I know I haven’t yet, but it is something we should all strive for.” 68 | NICHE

Ambassador. She said: “I started supporting the Niche Business Awards because I believe it is important to support local businesses and to celebrate success across the city. I am so proud of our business community in Leicester. In my view, the Leicester business community is one of the best – supportive, dynamic, versatile, and resilient. This annual ceremony shines a spotlight on this brilliance, which has a positive knock-on effect for us all. “The first year I was involved, I was delighted to be a part of such a professional and prestigious event and have thoroughly enjoyed being part of each of the awards nights since that first event in 2014. They just get better and better.” Glynis further aligned her business brand with the NBAs by taking part in the selection of this year’s semi-finalists, finalists, and winners as an official independent judge. She said: “Having sponsored the awards for a number of years, becoming an ambassador and judge this year has been an exciting experience. I have felt honoured to participate in the process with an outstanding panel of fellow judges. “There have been some outstanding nominations. The judging process has, for me, acted as a window to the exceptional quality of the businesses right here on our doorstep. Now more than ever we need to focus on these local businesses and offer our support in these difficult times of the ongoing pandemic. The winner of these awards will be able to use that to strengthen the footfall to their individual businesses. That can only be a good thing.”


the Ambasadors

Golden Media The company has been a guest of Niche Business Awards events for years and grasped the opportunity to become an ambassador for the 2020 awarding ceremony ooking forward to rounding off a turbulent 2020 with a celebratory ceremony, marketing and advertising agency Golden Media Group became an ambassador of the Niche Business Awards, seizing the opportunity to come together with the Leicester business community. Co-founder and Sales Director at Golden Media Jastin Patel said: “In previous years I have attended various Niche Business Awards events from announcements to the ceremony night itself. There is always a great turnout from the Leicester business community and you see so many new relationships that start here. “To be able to close 2020 off and have a great ceremony in early 2021 to look forward to is great. Again it is an opportunity to come together with one common goal: to shout and celebrate what Leicester has created and what it has to offer.” On the subject of attending the virtual ceremony on January 22, he added: “Although it couldn’t be in person, we know the Niche Business Awards team at Cross Productions will still make it a memorable evening with lots of twists and turns to look forward to.” Last year, Golden Media went through significant changes and Jastin wanted to propel the brand further into the local community, establishing new relationships with entrepreneurs, and developing existing relationships with the other ambassadors, sponsors, and previous award winners. Looking back over 2020, Director Mitesh Kotecha, said: “As a business, we have been lucky enough to be in an industry that has been called upon. Companies needed to rethink their strategic approaches to marketing and adapt their messages. “Luckily for Golden Media, last year we welcomed onboard a new Director, Kieran

Standon, who came in to head up our digital department. So, while shops were shut, the need for a digital footprint was essential to survival. For us, not only have we grown our clients’ businesses but we have also been growing our team and our premises.” The three directors are is grateful to have been able to help people and companies during the pandemic, ensuring they have bounced back better, and plans to continue the successful streak well into the future.


“We define success as meeting a combination of company and personal goals and helping our team do the same. Effective goals motivate us to push ourselves and grow, and as a result of meeting such goals, we not only help the company by meeting its objectives, but we also become more effective employees that can contribute to even greater growth in the future. We also want our team to feel capable of achieving their goals as well as the company’s objectives, so we make it a priority to personally help them meet individualised milestones.”

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Incite Consulting Giving back is a priority for Incite Consulting founder Mark Platt – whether it’s to a friend, charity or business s a friend of Niche Business Awards founder Jenny Cross, Incite Consulting founder Mark Platt wanted to back her endeavours as she has his over the years. Mark said: “My relationship with Jenny is why I chose to become an ambassador of the NBAs. I always want to offer something back to long-term friends who have always supported me.” Any business that has survived the pandemic is one that Mark is automatically impressed with. He wants to hear their stories, and where better to hear them first hand than at local business awarding ceremonies. Mark has found that success during the pandemic is surviving the pandemic. He commented: “Both commercially and personally this is true. Just

HOW DOES INCITE CONSULTING DEFINE SUCCESS? “On the business side, success is achieving planned commercial objectives. On the client side, success is two words: thank you.” 70 | NICHE

because you don’t get Covid doesn’t mean it won’t affect you. Success post-Covid for me will be an inclusive prepared and repairing business community in 2021.” Witnessing kindness and being a part of positive camaraderie is what has helped Mark in his own journey through the pandemic. How he has helped others through 2020 was by supporting Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL). “Giving back is so important, and VAL is to charities what the chamber is to business. The question isn’t why would you give back, it’s why wouldn’t you?” On why being an ambassador for the Niche Business Awards is part of his efforts to give back to the local community, Mark explained: “During this challenging time, the need for safe social interaction is far greater in my opinion than before. Showcasing and supporting one another is critical and no matter what external factors are in play we must keep doing this. Ultimately, The NBAs are a window to the great and the good of the Leicester and Leicestershire business community.”


the Ambassadors

It’seeze How the pandemic changed this ambassador’s outlook

hen the UK first went into lockdown in March 2020, John Cooper’s company it’seeze Leicester Website Design stopped actively selling to focus on his current customers who needed additional support. In particular, it’seeze had medical and dental surgeries that needed to keep their patients informed – John offered to carry out website updates free of charge for them, and still does today. It’s this kind of supportive attitude that makes John an ideal ambassador for an awarding body that spotlights community support and togetherness. He said: “Having previously been nominated for a Niche Business Award, I appreciate the value and support shown by the Leicester business community.” John has evolved a great deal as a result of the pandemic. He’s taken on a professional coach and worked through his thoughts and emotions with a hypnotherapist. He explained: “When the pandemic began, I was very anxious and recognised it was affecting me in an adverse way. I immediately contacted Linda Neville at Sanamente Hypnotherapy for a few sessions to deal with my thoughts and emotions. Her efforts have worked wonders and have made me a much stronger person. Stronger for my family, and stronger for friends and my clients too. “I’ve studied, taken on a coach, pulled apart my business plan, and refocused what I’m doing. The stronger my business is, the better I can serve my clients, and now, that support is more important than ever. But I know it’s not that simple for every business, and I’m very mindful of that.”

HOW DOES IT’SEEZE DEFINE SUCCESS? “For me, receiving positive reviews from my clients is extremely rewarding. Our reputation is our success.” John was looking to replace his petrol car with an electric one: “At some point, I will go electric. But for now, I’m not using my car. As much as I like meeting people, post-pandemic, this will be the exception rather than the rule it was back in February. It means I can give more time to my clients, rather than to city traffic jams. It’s also good for the environment, so it’s wins all round.” Supporting the Niche Business Awards is another way John hopes to give back: “The awards are an opportunity to showcase the best of Leicester, and how it can rise up in the face of adversity. As a city, Leicester – and in particular the Oadby and Wigston areas that were subjected to extended lockdown – has shown great resilience, and the community spirit is as strong as ever.”

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Nico It’s all about community for Nico, so becoming an ambassador is a perfect fit elf-confessed admirers of Niche Magazine (we love your work too, Nico), estate agency Nico has chosen to become an ambassador of the Niche Business Awards. Company Director Nazir Issat explained the reasoning behind it: “We are delighted to be associated with an establishment whose business objectives are perfectly aligned with their key objectives, which are to help build positive relationships between local businesses, enabling them to shine within their industry.” Nazir says he’s noticed that communities


“Success is a happy and satisfied client who pays for our service with a full heart and will not hesitate to recommend us. Success is a workplace filled with an energetic workforce determined with the same vision as yourself and willing to go the extra mile for the good of the company. Success is enjoying your achievements in good health and with your loved ones. Success is having a peaceful night’s sleep and looking forward to waking up to another good day.” 72 | NICHE

have become closer because of the pandemic, which he believes is true in both business and family life. “Families, whilst not physically together, have become more united. The need to go back to simpler times has become a focus and in turn has brought people more contentment. The appreciation for what you have, rather than what you don’t, is also more apparent. “As a leader, you need to keep motivating your staff and colleagues. You have to be sensitive to the fact that things may not be great at home for different reasons, and that there is a need to show support by talking about what is good around us and the possibility and hope of a better future for us and the whole of humanity.” One person in particular he feels has been a great asset to the community is Arif Voraji, the man behind Help the Homeless Leicester, who Nazir says has worked relentlessly during the pandemic. Bringing communities together himself, Nazir has been working with several charities including homeless shelters and orphanages. Nico also hosts an annual Macmillan Cancer Support coffee morning, which has been adapted to an afternoon tea for up to 200 ladies. On the Niche Business Awards, he said: “What a year it has been. It is really important to show support and unity within the business community and share our experiences of our highs and lows that we have had throughout the year.”


the Ambassadors

PPL PRS Since making Leicester their home this company has been impressed by all the business community had to offer and is proud to be a part of it elatively new to Leicester, having formed the joint venture between PPL and PRS for Music in the city three years ago, Managing Director Andrea Gray says the company has been impressed by the warm welcome they received. Its directors felt they should repay that support by getting involved in the business community, and they say the Niche Business Awards is ‘at the heart of it’. PPL PRS has delved into the Leicestershire scene by involving itself with numerous causes and companies including Help the Homeless Leicester, which was selected by its employees as their chosen charity. The company, which provides TheMusicLicence, has also developed partnerships with Leicester Riders, Cool as Leicester, Curve Theatre, and the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, to name a few. On another partnership they’ve built since being in Leicester, Andrea said: “By working closely with ER Recruitment, we have been able to attract some great talent to our business, as the team at ER really took the time to get to know us, understand our culture and values, and introduce us to candidates that would thrive in our environment.” Adding on to that train of thought, she said: “Who would have imagined this time last year we would need to move from fully officebased to 100% remote working in a matter of days? The teamwork in our business has been incredible; colleagues helping each other out and changing roles at a moment’s notice to

HOW DOES PPL PRS DEFINE SUCCESS? “Differently than I would have this time last year! For 2020, it’s been about supporting our colleagues through a huge change in how they work, making them feel valued in these uncertain times, and supporting our customers by adapting our processes in recognition of the impacts felt to their businesses.”

support our customers has been amazing. I also feel I have got to know my colleagues so much better than perhaps I would have in a usual world – whatever that might be. I think a crisis can really draw people together.” Excited to attend the Niche Business Awards digitally, she commented: “Awards are even more important than usual. Every business has had to adjust this year in some way, so it’s crucial we recognise that and celebrate those successes – it’s been a tough slog for many.” NICHE | 73

Paragon Sales Solutions Since its formation in 2018, Paragon Sales Solutions has been involved in the Niche Business Awards. Founder Rob Spence tells us why he pandemic has taught Rob Spence and his team at Paragon that no matter what happens, listening will forever be the most important tool a business leader can possess and that working hard is ‘cool’ but working harder is ‘cooler’. It might be down to these principles that the company has grown during one of the most challenging years in recent times. “We have been very fortunate with our business over the past seven months or so, and have seen an increase in our revenue,” Rob said. “We have also seen a new member of staff, who started on the first day of lockdown, come into the business and thrive, and we are also actively hiring for two new positions.” As a big believer in working collaboratively rather than competitively, Rob says there are so

HOW DOES PARAGON SALES SOLUTIONS DEFINE SUCCESS? “Paragon Sales Solutions was built on my desire to help everyone to succeed. Every service that we offer is tailored to help our clients succeed; whether that’s by saving them time, or by delivering leads, or even closing sales. For me, success is built on our ability to deliver.” 74 | NICHE

many quality businesses that there are plenty of opportunities for all and that his team and relationships have benefited from this mindset. The mindset feeds into the extra-curricular activity of the business with its support of other organisations such as the Niche Business Awards. “Since our inception in 2018, we have always seen the Niche Business Awards as a very important part of Leicestershire’s thriving business community. We were honoured to have been nominated for an award in 2018, finalists in 2019, and nominees again in 2020. “By becoming ambassadors, we wanted to represent the awards in a positive manner and encourage businesses of all shapes and sizes to come together and to support one another. The NBAs are a fantastic way to showcase the fantastic work that businesses and leaders within the county have achieved.” As an active member of the Leicestershire business scene, and with his very own networking group as well, Rob is familiar with a multitude of companies across the county. But he has been impressed with the work of one company in particular. He explained: “Every single day I have been monitoring business news channels and social media and I’ve seen great things going on. However, I think a big thumbs up has to go to Cross Productions and Niche Magazine; especially those organising the NBAs. Turning these incredible awards into a virtual event would not have been an easy decision to make; however, I am excited to see how it turns out and I have every faith that the entire team will deliver an incredible evening of celebration and reflection.”


the Ambassadors

She Inspires Businesswoman and charity leader Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan says being able to support the communities in Leicester when it is most needed is a privilege he’s the face of the inspirational Zinthiya Trust, which supports women and girls living in poverty or suffering from domestic abuse. She’s also the woman behind She Inspires, a consultancy service that provides training and support to not-for-profit organisations in the UK, the profits of which are used to support grassroots female leaders in the developing world. Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan has a determination that never rests when it comes to supporting others. In true business mogul style, Zinthiya chose to align She Inspires with the Niche Business Awards; a tactical and considered decision. “We decided to support the awards to build awareness of the work we do,” Zinthiya said. Every move she makes is carefully planned in order to help the beneficiaries and initiatives she supports: “We also became ambassadors of the awards to show solidarity with female-led businesses in Leicester.” As a charity boss, avid networker, and busy businesswoman, the coronavirus crisis would have a negative impact on such a person, you would think. Zinthiya said: “The last few months has been challenging for all of us. The pandemic has had an impact on each and every one in many different ways, but as an organisation we have gone from strength to strength and have also been able to support more people than we did in the last year. “You can’t plan for every eventuality, but you work on developing your organisation and its people to be resilient and believe in your values.” Looking ahead to the virtual award ceremony, she added: “This uncertainty is having a massive impact on the lives of all of

HOW DOES SHE INSPIRES DEFINE SUCCESS? “Success to many people can be many different things, but for me it is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, sacrifice and most of all, the love we have for what we do and the happiness we gain from knowing that what we do is making a difference to someone’s life.”

us, so the awards will be a nice way to redirect our focus to something positive. Yes, it won’t be the same as coming to gather in person, but we can treat this as a new experience and embrace it and look forward to better times. It’s a privilege to be able to support the communities in Leicester in this way when they need it most.”

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the Ambassadors

Unity Looking to help strengthen local infrastructure, this digital marketing agency has aligned itself with the Niche Business Awards he team at digital marketing agency Unity feels fortunate to have had many opportunities presented to them during the pandemic. Managing Director Pete Frost said: “We appreciate that Leicester’s marketing scene is made up of lots of non-digital or traditional agencies that didn’t have the ability to capitalise on the now almost essential digital demand that businesses required.” Pete, therefore, made the decision to expand Unity’s partner programme to offer development-only services to other agencies in the UK, enabling design agencies to instantly expand their offerings, retain their clients, and capitalise on the new digital market place. It’s one example of how the company has benefited from helping others and connecting and partnering with businesses – epitomising exactly what the Niche Business Awards is all about. Pete, who is a Trustee of mental health

HOW DOES UNITY DEFINE SUCCESS? “It’s a feeling of achievement that comes through a relentless focus on your qualified objective” 76 | NICHE

and housing charity Norton Housing and Support, says he has seen first-hand the strength that has been required of people this last year: “Adaptability and innovation runs through everyone in the team at Unity. They’ve continued to show incredible versatility and creativity to help clients of all shapes and sizes map their way through their unique positions.” In relation to the Niche Business Awards, he said: “As a small business, we feel a crucial part of our economy is to show support to other local operations that we feel align themselves with the same high standards and ambitions as we do at Unity. We believe that especially during such uncertain times, we should be able to rely on each other to continue to strengthen our local infrastructure, Niche Business Awards being front and centre of the local business community.” He added: “The ability to recognise and be recognised at a time when the focus for businesses is so tunnelled into remapping their future path is such a key part of validating your journey. The Niche Business Awards allows businesses and individuals to take stock of all the hard work, dedication and versatility they’ve shown they’re capable of.”

Marketing and communication in a pandemic

Communication has become even more pivotal for companies. Social distancing has meant that face to face interaction has lessened greatly. Effective communication has been and needs to remain a priority moving forward


hen it comes to communicating with your audience, in the past, companies needed to create an average of seven touchpoints to showcase a product or service where that has now risen to an estimated 21! Here are a few hints and tips to help you along the way as you navigate 2021: ◆ Don’t over complicate things. Be clear on your message using facts to add credibility. People don’t trust what they can’t understand so clarity goes a long way. ◆ With heightened communication appearing from all directions make sure your message is at the right time and also relevant. Don’t waste your chance when the audience will take notice, you won’t get long to grab it. ◆ There are many platforms and avenues to choose from including newsletters, social media, and publishing, to name a few. Make sure you pick the right one and use it in


the right way. Instagram has been the number one choice for businesses in 2020 with influencers everywhere. However, remember this platform is great for B2C. If your service is B2B then LinkedIn should be your selection. ◆ Who is the receiver? If you are investing your time into a company newsletter - who will receive it? Is this going to your domestic or commercial clients? They all want to know different things. Don’t confuse your audience. ◆ The last key point to effective communication to remember is repetition. If I tell you something once you may forget. If I tell you twice you may take notice but if I tell you three times you will react. The key is to ensure that your communication is delivered in a way that approaches the right audience, in the right tone, at the right time. Making sure no time is lost on ineffective messages.

Top graphic design trends for 2021

Managing Director at Soar Valley Press


eady to get creative with the top creative design trends for 2021? Or, maybe you’d like to keep it simple and leave it to one of our graphic designers. Either way, here’s what this year’s graphic design trends are looking like.

Geometric shapes

In 2020, flowing and abstract shapes were favoured among many designers. However, this year, they have been replaced with rigid, geometric shapes and patterns. There’s real delight in creating something out of simple shapes and that’s exactly what this trend encompasses. Laser cutting shapes into your designs is a great way to stand out. Or, stacking squares,

triangles and circles to make a unique composition can help you add interest to your designs.

Muted colour palettes

A popular colour palette for 2020, muted colours are not going anywhere just yet! They are colours that have low saturation, and are often dulled to create a softer tone. They’re a popular choice for wedding and office stationery due to their professional appearance.


Foiling can help add an element of luxury to your designs and printed products. Whilst the most popular colours are gold and silver, foils also

come in many other colours and effects. Foil is fantastic for adding an element of sophistication to your invitations, event menus, leaflets, greetings cards and business cards.


This graphic design trend is an ongoing one. We are consistently seeing minimalism across landing pages, print marketing collateral, social media posts, branded merchandise and even logos. It’s about creative designers expressing the most essential elements of a product by removing any unnecessary components. It encompasses the use of white space with elements and text being grouped for easy viewing. NICHE | 77

Express it with Signs O

Signage is vital to the success of a business, Signs Express (Leicester) focus on bringing your brands to life with tailored visual solutions

ur lifestyles have changed and so must our signage, says Martin Duggan, centre owner of Signs Express (Leicester), who are passionate about delivering quality services, advice with tailormade solutions and results to their customers. Martin shared: “The last few months have seen a considerable change in the way we shop, eat, drink, and use leisure facilities. We have been using our signage skills to work with businesses to help them enhance their customers’ experiences through creating queueing systems, implementing social distancing measures, and bringing outdoor

spaces to life. It’s become a legal requirement in many cases to have Covid-related signage, but I think a lot of clear acrylic screens in receptions and supermarkets are here to stay.” With almost eight in 10 consumers entering a business based purely on their signage (FedEx), Signs Express (Leicester) offers clients full design, manufacture, and installation service for all interior and exterior signage requirements. From keeping customers and staff safe with Covid-19 and social distancing solutions to increasing footfall through eyecatching illuminated signs and window graphics, the company turns visions into reality.

Due to the breadth of what they do, the team at Signs Express (Leicester) transforms all manner of workplaces from centres of education to local communities, multi-national corporations to high streets, offering an extensive product range including shop and office signage, vehicle graphics, digital signage, Covid-19 signs and social distancing solutions, window and wall graphics, flags, exhibition displays, and more. For advice on how to increase brand awareness, stand out from competition, and keep customers and staff safe, contact Signs Express (Leicester) on 0116 344 0901, or visit

Time to understand your customers again

At a time when many businesses have folded, do you know how your brand has changed during the pandemic and how your customers now behave? The answers could save your company


oing back to basics” is how you should begin 2021, says sales marketing and PR specialist Andy Hubbard, Managing Director of Applebee Marketing. He suggests that the way industries and customers behave will have changed due to the coronavirus crisis. “What is your go-to market plan?” He says you need to ask yourself. “If you diversified with Covid-specific products or services last year, what are your plans to go back to normal? What sales and marketing plans will guide the business back?” Taking a look at the way your customers interacted with your business and their buying behaviours over the past year by conducting market research, rediscovering those market segments, and clarifying your messaging is the back-to-basic principle that Andy talks about. Identifying which customers you want to target is vital in 2021. Andy explains: “Don’t try to be all things to all people. Your sector A customers might be more profitable than your sector B segment. Focus on your priority sector by 78 | NICHE

communicating clear messages on your unique proposition to them.” Effective communication will send the same message to different stakeholders (your customers, staff, and suppliers), in a way that speaks directly to them. “Talk to each target audience in their language to push different buttons for different people,” he adds. Next, Andy suggests testing your communications on small pilot groups – they may ask you questions on things you think you’ve covered quite clearly. Finally, monitor the response by capturing all social interactions, phone calls, and letters in a CRM system to provide useful feedback. “The pandemic has altered many industries and behaviours. Time to make sure we understand our customers again.” For more information on marketing planning, email, call 0116 402 8600 or visit


Marketing apprentice

soars to success A marketing apprentice has been named Apprentice of the Year in the East Midlands Chamber Leicestershire Business Awards 2020, and is on her way to becoming multi-award winning having been shortlisted for a national award


he East Midlands Chamber Business Awards is an anticipated one across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. One particular winner in the Leicestershire division was Soar Valley Press’ Marketing Apprentice Pippa Culverwell. She won the Apprentice of the Year award for her hard work last year. Many people find sourcing design and print a difficult process and it’s through writing effective blog posts, emails, and social media posts that Pippa feels she’s helped to make this process simpler for Soar Valley Press’ clients. As the only marketer at Soar Valley Press, Pippa has had to take on a wide variety of tasks. She has also had to develop new marketing strategies to account for the business’ dramatic change

in product offering, to offer social distancing products during the pandemic. Not only has she completed her apprenticeship whilst working mainly from home, but she’s also managed to achieve an eight-fold increase in traffic to Soar Valley Press’ website. Pippa said: “I was thrilled to find out I had been shortlisted for the Apprentice of the Year award and was shocked to find out that I had won. It’s a real honour to win this award, especially as I was up against such tough competition who are all doing amazing things within their industries.” Chris Goodman, Managing Director at Soar Valley Press, said: “We’re really proud of Pippa, who has performed brilliantly since she joined us. We’re excited to be offering her


a permanent position leading on marketing as we also welcome two new employees to our growing team in January.” Pippa has also been named a finalist in the Association of Colleges Student of the Year Awards. It marks the fifth award that the company has been shortlisted for, as Soar Valley Press is also in the running for an award win in Best Customer Service at the Niche Business Awards 2020, held on January 22, 2021. For social distancing products and design and print services, contact Soar Valley Press on 0116 259 9955 or email


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Breaking barriers with visual media Digital communicator Kyra Williams, Director of Firetree Visual Media, talks about how the way in which a business communicates with its audience has shifted dramatically in the last year


edia Production Company Firetree Visual Media say they’ve seen a rise this year in the use of digital media. Director Kyra Williams told us: “The way a business needs to communicate with its potential audience has shifted dramatically during the global pandemic. With so much digital communication ‘traffic’ it can be overwhelming for an audience. Each move a company makes in its communication with the audience needs to be targeted, considered and clear across all channels – now more than ever, in order to get through in the most effective way.” One of the positives to have come out of the pandemic is our approach to technology in breaking down barriers between business and audience, with the use of video and digital media reshaping the access an audience can have with a business. Kyra said: “We are seeing the use of 360° virtual tours, video production for internal communication and animation increase massively as they are so effective in letting an

audience into the world of your business safely. I’ve found the shift in awareness with communicating globally really interesting. The pandemic appears to have broken down regional boundaries and with the right use of technology businesses can function on a larger scale than ever before.” Whether through carefully considered head shots of team members, a guided 360° virtual tour of a business or a full long-term multi-disciplined message, Firetree Visual Media knows what it means to create content which has a lasting, positive and powerful effect on its audience. “My passion is creating targeted content for a business which gets right to the heart of what they are all about and the message they are looking to portray. Thinking outside of the box is a crucial aspect of standing out from the crowd; that and forward-planning.” Discover ways to communicate on a higher level with your audience by contacting Firetree Visual Media on 01858 810 038, 07773 280 492 and at

Keeping visible with print


How do you keep your image and connection to your market strong in a time when things feel disconnected? Marie Doherty of Minuteman Press Lutterworth gives us some pointers


he way in which we view a business logo has changed in the last year, with many of our offices closed up or on a more flexi-time usage, gaining access to an audiences, consciousness has to be more direct, more personal and more lasting. “A good place to start is to create your image and have it in the right view of the right people at the right time,” says Marie Doherty of Minuteman Press Lutterworth. A good starting block is to consider what many of us are using more of as consumers and businesses – mugs, coasters and mouse mats as we work from home. Having your logo on these social media-friendly items can really

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boost not only the morale of your team if they are working separately at home, but also work their way into your target audiences awareness via your employees’ use of them in their social media. “We are different from many printing firms as we can create individual personalised items such as names and logos of employees. We have found there to be a huge rise in demand for these products as companies create a strong working from home team work environment,” Marie added. When you then consider the rise in demand for face masks in the last year, which are likely to continue for a

while longer yet, a company investing in branding this product is a vital opportunity to remain visible. “Keeping visible at a time when the shop front may not be is crucial. Many businesses are still running and thriving – but behind closed doors, effective use of the products that are visible to the customer or potential customers are essentially key investments for any company to make right now,” Marie concludes. Find a range of personalised high quality printing products by calling 01455 207 508 or visiting


Real talk and

real results “Now more than ever, building creative and collaborative relationships with clients is vital,” says Harmeet Singh of Marketing Voice WORDS BY EMILY MILLER


ith an honesty and realism which feels refreshing, genuine and straight to the point, Harmeet Singh of Marketing Voice uses a metaphor which perfectly depicts the strength of how the company builds relations. “It all starts with a creative spark and like minded people, from there it’s about building a relationship which is open and honest – rather like when you start dating someone! You don’t head straight for the aisle; it’s about building communication and trust in the right way,” he says. Specialising in SEO and Digital Marketing, Harmeet is aware that in a world of overcommunication, everything needs to be tailored and born from frank discussions about needs and solutions more than anything else. “We are a specialised task force, good at what we do – and that either fits seamlessly with the client or it doesn’t. It’s a collaborative process and because of this we get real results for our clients.” This process that Harmeet speaks of extends to an ‘open door’ policy where users can

come and utilise the Marketing Voice office space in the heart of Leicester City. “We invite the business community to drop by whenever they like. We have desk spaces and meeting rooms which we encourage the community to use. Often, our working relationships are born in this organic way and that’s our hope really, for natural and lasting collaboration.” In such a fast paced sector of the industry, SEO isn’t only about the team knowing their craft, it’s about knowing what will work for each individual, something Harmeet feels passionately about. “I have to know that the work that we are doing for a client is going to work for them. For me, what we do isn’t about making numbers, it’s about finding solutions for people which support them and their business. I honestly get a buzz from knowing that the skills that we have help businesses thrive.” Of course, the open office policy did have to shift last year, with the pandemic making physical meetings difficult, but as Harmeet adds: “It’s broken down communication barriers in


many ways too. We have clients all over the world now and people are far more receptive to the technology we have for communication than they were previously.” Still, a face to face man, Harmeet enthuses about things opening up once more. “I for one can’t wait to welcome people back into our collaborative work space; it’s inspiring to work with such dynamic people from all over Leicestershire and beyond in one office space – not only does it keep the creative juices flowing, it also helps to feel supported by each other.” See where Marketing Voice can help take you and your business in 2021 at, or call 0116 3184 131.

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Bring nature in We have arguably never spent as much time indoors as we have in the last year, but in addition to that, we have also discovered how good it feels to be outside in nature. Giving houseplants pride of place in your home is a wonderful way of combining the two effortlessly


t would seem we aren’t alone in this idea with search volumes for “house plants delivered” increasing by 400%, and “buy houseplants online” by 200% since lockdown, here we give you a top five run-down of the houseplants to have in your home to help boost your mood and mind.

Peace lily

Even the name helps after the stresses and strains of the last year. Peace lilies are great houseplants to have because they not only soak up mold spores in the air; they also absorb their water before releasing it back into their environment too. Place your peace lily in a dry room for best results.

Snake plant


Not such a relaxing name; readers will be pleased to know the snake plant has nothing to do with the reptile. If you have had issues in the past with keeping plants alive the snake plant could be for you – they need minimal care but can really help to improve your wellbeing as they add moisture to the air and release oxygen. They’re particularly ideal for people who suffer from allergies.

Known as the plant of relaxation. Place your lavender plant in the bedroom, and the scent will help to reduce your stress levels, calm the mind, and enable you to sleep better. To ensure it grows, water it regularly and leave it in a place that gets a lot of light.

Aloe vera

Inside the leaf of Aloe Vera, you can find a healing gel, no really! The gel from aloe vera can help to soothe acne, burns including sunburn, relieve dry skin, which in turn helps you both physically and mentally. To allow your aloe vera plant to thrive isn’t too tricky, a resilient plant, all you need to do is place it in bright but indirect sunlight, and let it dry in between watering.

Monstera plant

Again, nothing to do with monsters, the Monstera is a very popular plant. The mood-boosting plant purifies the air, making your home healthier – plus, you can share the love with friends as you can easily grow new plants from their cuttings. 82 | NICHE

JAZ KAUR Co-Director at The Lettings and Sales Business



ou may be aware of the difference between a freehold and leasehold property. Freeholders own the plot of land and any buildings within that plot. Leaseholders own the building within a plot of land and not the land itself. But what if you’re looking to purchase the freehold of a building that has leasehold properties within it, such as a block of flats? In this case, there are a few things to take into consideration. 1. As the freeholder, you will become the leaseholders’ (tenants’) landlord and must provide building insurance, management packs, maintenance works, and more. Make sure you’re up to the task financially and mentally. 2. All tenants must be notified that you are now their landlord and that ground rent and fees will be payable to you. Collection can be challenging if you have problematic tenants. Be aware of any legal routes that tenants could pursue. 3. Unless you approach a tenant informally and gain their agreement, you will not be able to make amendments to the terms of the lease. 4. Flying freeholds (where part of a property overlaps another) occur where a balcony overhangs into a property below or a basement lies beneath a neighbouring house for instance. They are intricate and require more work from your solicitor. 5. The leaseholder has the right to buy the freehold from you. You will no longer be able to collect ground rent or fees from them if they choose to do so. I would advise seeking free professional advice from someone such as myself who can help you understand the bigger picture.

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What a difference a year makes

Airborne Mortgage Solutions

Mortgage broker Kamlesh Lodhia of Airborne Mortgage Solutions shares his thoughts on the year to come


anuary 2019 was hunky-dory. We were all looking forward to a new year and the economy had an upward trajectory. Then, suddenly, we were hit with the news of a coronavirus outbreak and it led to the position we find ourselves in now – riding out a January financial slump, but with the added stress and worry of Covid-19. The year inbetween – from hearing of the virus around January 2020 and now in a position where we’ve gained more of an understanding about it as you sit here reading this today – has taught us all a lot about ourselves, our industries, our values, and where we want to be in the future. When it comes to mortgaging and remortgaging, January 2021 finds us in the predicament of questioning whether now is the right time to buy, what we really want our forever home to look like, how we will be able to afford

our first-time home after the stamp duty holiday ends on March 31, or whether we can even get a mortgage like we thought we’d be able to at this stage. The difficulty now is that banks are not accepting mortgage applications from those who have been furloughed as they were during the beginning of the first lockdown in March, interest rates have risen, and the criteria to have your application accepted has become more complex. Thankfully, a vaccine solution is finally here, although we must also contend with the Brexit situation. The bottom line is, people will still need mortgages and remortgages no matter what happens, and even though the banks are taking a more cautious approach, they are still competing for custom. So whatever your situation, there are always options for you. Feel free to call me for advice on 08000 835 209.


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Mortgages for the

self-employed Securing a mortgage when self-employed can be stressful, but one mortgage broker says this doesn’t have to be the case


here are more hoops to jump through to gain a mortgage as a self-employed home hunter. However, there’s “no need to panic,” says mortgage broker Yasheen Kasmani of Matrix Mortgages. Where PAYE applicants are required to provide mortgage lenders with three months’ worth of payslips, the self-employed must hand over at least two years’ worth of tax returns as well as, in some cases, having a qualified accountant send off your projections for the year ahead. Yasheen said: “At Matrix Mortgages, we try to catch self-employed people at the early stages of their dream of becoming a homeowner. We need to make them aware of the documents they’ll need to provide to be able to buy, so they can work out with their accountants how to get to that position.

“It could take up to two years to source, but we do work with lenders who will accept just one years’ worth if the documents are presented correctly.” Working in tandem with your accountant in Leicester, Yasheen advises on what their mutual client will need to provide. “Those who are self-employed are businessowners, they don’t have time to deal with the technical side of things. We can just take over for them and eliminate that stress.” The stress of a declined mortgage application and how it can affect a credit score is a worry that businessowners don’t need to keep them up at night. Yasheen added: “Working with a specialist broker for self-employed mortgages will help to increase your chances of application success.” Contact Matrix Mortgages on 0116 488 5803, visit or find them on Facebook @MatrixMortgages. Clients of Matrix Mortgages will also be giving back to the local community, as the company will provide a donation to Help the Homeless for every mortgage deal secured.

YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON A MORTGAGE OR OTHER DEBT SECURED ON IT Mahomed-Yasheen Kasmani trading as Matrix Mortgages is an appointed representative of HL Partnership Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. There may be a fee for mortgage advice.

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Expensive interior

design mistakes

Interior designer Andrea Yorston shares the biggest mistakes made in the interior design DIY process


hen redecorating or renovating your home, you essentially become your own project manager; there’s lots to consider from builders and electricians through to colour schemes and fabrics, all the way through to budgeting and time management. Interior designer Andrea Yorston of Interior Squirrel, who works internationally and with a team of trusted trades, said: “All trades have to follow each other logically, otherwise things can drag on for months. Some of the most expensive mistakes can be made early on because of this.” One expensive mistake Andrea suggests could be buying a sofa that won’t work for the shape or colour of a room. Even with exact measurements,

it may not fit in the way you pictured. Another mistake could be hiring a painter and decorator only to question your choices once the work is complete. Or, it could be as extensive as having plug sockets installed in inconvenient spaces, which could mean knock-on cost implications and even hinder the ability to add value to a house. Andrea’s job is to get inside the head of the client, understanding their likes and dislikes, and challenging the functionality and practicality of their thoughts and ideas. She said: “Your environment is so relevant to your wellbeing, especially as we’re in a situation where people are spending more time in the home and realising the space isn’t working or allowing them to

successfully work from home. “People are wanting to make more of a sanctuary, but many underestimate interior design and feel it’s something they can do themselves, but it is quite a science to get right.” This year, Andrea has taken to digital services, providing electronic mood boards and floor plans whilst also posting fabric and wallpaper swatches. She’s now offering free 30-minute video consultations where you can show her around your home to gain advice and ideas. Call 03300 904 240 or email for a free home video consultation or visit

ANDREA RECOMMENDS: H&M Home and ZARA Home for inexpensive, quality homeware this year.

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Making changes this year A

t this time of year there’s a traditional glut of ‘New Year, New You’ articles where magazines tell you how to stick to your personal goals to lose weight, be more productive, or quit smoking. But instead we’re going to sit back and let you digest this feature at your own pace. Afterall, we can’t be too harsh on ourselves after the year we’ve all just had. We’ve put together a few companies we think may come in handy to you – not just for your New Year’s Resolutions, but for any time in the future. You don’t have to change your life at the beginning of the year and become a new and improved

person. Just be yourself and take on the things that make you feel good; whether that’s working out, speaking to a professional about your bad habits or the mental or physical issues bothering you, or maintaining a regular self-care routine. This selection of adverts and articles are all from local, independent businesses, already tried and tested by Niche readers and the team here at our parent company Cross Productions. We want to hear what changes you plan to make throughout this year. Let our editor know by emailing

Kick start your health in 2021 The Arbonne 30 Day to Healthy Living Programme’s objective is to improve mind, body and skin


he ‘30 Days to Healthy Living’ programme is designed to help you form healthy habits and a healthy eating plan for life. “Arbonne is committed to Healthy Living inside and out, today more than ever. We are proud to provide safe and effective products to support a healthy lifestyle and your holistic journey in wellness,” explains Bev Sankey, Arbonne Independent Consultant and Coach. The programme refocuses your habits on eating and living consciously. It’s based on an Arbonne Special Value Pack (ASVP) of essentials, nutrition products that give you the clean nutrition you need to follow the

programme. After the programme you can choose to do another 30 days to reinforce the good habits you started, or gradually phase in omitted foods based on the 80/20 rule, in which 80% of the foods you eat follow the programme whilst 20% do not. Focusing on regularly eating whole foods and balanced meals of complete protein, carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables is highly recommended. “The 30 days will act as a reset to establishing healthy habits,” adds Bev. First, the programme will work to identify foods that do not suit you, with carefully selected Arbonne nutrition

products which serve to support the body’s nutrient needs during this phase. There’s plenty of support and advice on leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle too, with free entry to their Facebook healthy living enthusiasts community where you will find meal plans for the four weeks, recipes and live classes too, including a WhatsApp group and coaching. For a free copy of Arbonne’s 30 day plan get in touch now and be ready to make a change in 2021. Contact Bev on 07812 156 540 or book a free 15-minute consultation via the booking link To buy the nutrition products visit NICHE | 89

A Leicester footballing inspiration

and his dad

The result of suppressing 10 years’ worth of grief, and how Louis Hamilton honoured his dad’s name last year WORDS BY KERRY SMITH


t took Louis Hamilton over 10 years to cry over the death of his dad, Leicester City footballer and coach Neville Hamilton, who died just a week before Louis’ 18th birthday. The 29-year-old now runs Hamilton’s Honour, his own boutique gym with a difference in Oadby, which he set up early last year whilst finally addressing the grief he’d been suppressing since 2009 that was resulting in anxiety, all whilst enduring a pandemic. “I don’t really know the feelings I was feeling, but it took me until 2020 to deal with it so it was a bit of a big year,” Louis laughed. For the first time ever, he spoke publicly about the passing of his dad at the annual Leicester Mercury Sports Awards in January 2020 during the 10th anniversary of his death. The organisation would invite Louis to say a few words each year and give out the Neville Hamilton Award which was named in his dad’s honour, but he’d backed out at the very last minute each year having been wracked with nerves. Although he can’t remember much of what he said on the night last year – bright lights dazzling him as he spoke from the heart – he does remember the feeling of a weight being lifted as he headed backstage where he burst into tears as the sound of the audience’s applause echoed around him. 90 | NICHE

“I’d been putting that speech off for 10 years. I said to myself if I can’t do this speech then I can’t do the business. I hadn’t cried for years and then I was crying every day for two weeks after. It took me 10 years to realise I was hurting inside and I didn’t get enough support because I had too much pride, but that was damaging to me without even realising. I tried to take too much responsibility on at a young age.” Having not cried at his dad’s death bed or funeral, Louis took on the pressure of caring for his family. It was only in 2019 at a cousin’s wedding that he understood he’d been struggling. “I felt like I’d turned up to my dad’s funeral. I felt so nervous and I wasn’t even getting married! I didn’t realise I was grieving until that day. I can pinpoint that day as when the anxiety started and I knew I had to do the speech.” It wasn’t the only time he’d felt pressure in his life. As the 12-year-old son of Neville Hamilton, Louis felt burdened by the feeling that “the world would be watching” during every “harmless” Leicester Academy football game. Shortly before the passing of his dad, Louis found himself in another pressurised situation that changed the course of his life. He told his story: “I don’t like talking about this, but it’s part of the journey. After playing football with friends in the park, a man in his 30s who was on drugs and had discharged himself from the hospital pulled a knife out on us while we were in the car. I wasn’t in control of the car, so I got out and struck him twice. It was all on camera and I told my parents straight away. I was a young boy who

I feel like people need to hear these kinds of stories. When I lost my dad and got rejected I was like, why is everything and everyone against me?

stuck up for his friend and it all happened in 10 seconds. If my friend had died I knew I couldn’t live with myself.” A criminal record led to a rejection from a private school while working as a football coach aged 22. “I went to the car and called my boss to tell him and I broke down and just thought I’m never coaching again. That scenario cut me really deep,” Louis confessed. “I feel like people need to hear these kinds of stories. When I lost my dad and got rejected I was like, why is everything and everyone against me? As a young person, it’s easy to not do the right thing once something bad goes against you, it’s a vicious cycle but, speaking from experience, it can be broken.” Speaking about the added pressures he experienced and still experiences as a young black man trying to succeed and build his career, he added: “Things are not easy when you have the added pressures of racism and prejudice. There are many young successful black men and women, but it is hardly ever spoken about in the mainstream media. I feel it is my duty to be an inspiring role model to young black men and women, just as my dad helped inspire me and many others.” A tenacious attitude no doubt helped him to break that cycle. Louis remembers devising ways of making money even as a child by washing cars. As soon as he turned 16, he took on a seven-day schedule, working at Halfords and as a personal trainer at Parklands Gym, whilst also attending Loughborough college, football training and matches, and football coaching during the summer holidays. Choosing to follow a fitness career path instead of a coaching one, Louis began making plans to open his own gym three years ago. Just as he’d signed the lease for the perfect building this year, Covid impeded his goals and he had to work even harder than ever. “From day one, the whole business was in the red. I wasn’t entitled to any Covid support. The builders weren’t allowed to work, gym equipment was hard to get hold of, and the rent still needed to be paid.” As soon as work

was able to commence, he would continue personal training, go to the building in London Road after work to clear up, be at the skip each night from 8pm and have dinner at midnight ready for a 5am start the next day – all made even more tiring by having to cycle everywhere after selling his car to fund solicitor fees. Hamilton’s Honour opened to the public in December. His inspiration for the boutique wellness studio concept came after visiting home interior showroom Oadby House. “I loved everything in there and wanted to create something as special. You go to nice hotels and restaurants so why can’t you go to a nice gym? “Hamilton’s Honour is for those individuals who are passionate about health and fitness, but who want to work out in a truly unique and relaxing environment. There are a lot of people who want a gym that’s not full of bodybuilders, something more private. Around here there aren’t many gyms so this will suit the people of the Stoughton, Oadby, and Great Glen areas.” Hamilton’s Honour is complete with state-of-the-art equipment and has an exclusive, limited membership ensuring a spacious environment to train in. In memory of his dad’s name, Hamilton’s Honour is a venture Louis is sure Neville would be proud of. Email for membership details.

Online fitness sessions

Find free online fitness sessions on Instagram @HamiltonsHonour. Viewers are welcome to make donations. During both lockdowns, the team raised over £1,435 for the British Heart Foundation. NICHE | 91

Maintaining a

Happy Head Clinical Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist Anna Rawson at Happy Head Hypnotherapy gives her insight into the effects of the past year on our mental health


he unprecedented pressure, stress, challenge, change and uncertainty at this time, has certainly affected a lot of people in a distressing manner. But it has also bred a growth in the support for mental health, with alternative therapies becoming the norm, flourishing and seeing results that make a genuine and long lasting impact. There has been a great deal of attention on the negative impact, but what a lot of mainstream media leave out is the impact it’s had on how we support mental health, and furthermore make it normal for us to value, prioritise and share a collective responsibility for our mental health. There is so much positive

and impactful support available to both help recovery and more importantly, prevention; or even optimisation. We’re in the midst of a global shift in understanding the body-mind connection. People have not only faced unknown challenges and new levels of stress and anxiety, they’ve also had the time to reflect on life, and how their own world is being so affected by their relationship with the ‘real world’. The biggest changes we need to make are through considering the way society is developing and the disconnect we are creating with the natural world. Humans are biological, we need connection to the natural nature of our existence through exercise, diet


and connection. But more importantly, the biggest changes come through increasing our awareness of how we function and how our mind is structured so that we can better dissolve our limitations and states of suffering. More love, less hate. More support, less ignorance. More acceptance, less closed book. More gratitude, less greed. It’s compassion and intrigue that we need to foster to make the long lasting changes required for more people to live joyful, fulfilled and purposeful lives. To discover how to unlock the tool box and take back autonomy over your mental health, call 07568 562 319 or visit





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SuperPath® Minimally Invasive Hip Replacement Nuffield Health Leicester Hospital is one of the few private hospitals in the UK to offer minimally invasive hip replacement surgery. Recovery is typically faster than a traditional hip replacement with patients often able to walk assisted on the day of the operation. SuperPath Hip Replacement Procedure improves patient recovery Problems with bones and joints can really hamper your way of life. And in the UK, osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting around 8 million people.

What causes Osteoarthritis? Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease often referred to as ‘wear and tear’ due to its prevalence in older people (although it can develop from any age). There is no known cause and, whilst men can suffer from it, it is more common in women. Osteoarthritis is painful because joints become stiff and inflamed when the smooth cartilage lining gets damaged. Without the protection of cartilage, the rough surfaces of your bones rub together as you move, causing pain. With osteoarthritis, simple, everyday things like going for a walk or even getting dressed

become more difficult. There’s no known cure and over time the condition gets worse. There is good news however, because joints can be replaced successfully, improving mobility and reducing pain. The damaged joint is swapped for an artificial one, called a ‘prosthesis’ – which can be made from a combination of metal, plastic or ceramic. This is a common procedure and a long-term solution for wornout joints. At Nuffield Health, we’re experts… carrying out almost 4,000 knee replacements and almost 5,000 hip replacements last year alone.

Minimally Invasive Hip Replacement Recent advancements in prosthesis design and surgical techniques now mean drastically improved recovery times for patients. Available at Nuffield Health Leicester Hospital, the SuperPath procedure can be completed with reduced trauma to the soft tissue around the hip – in fact, often without cutting any muscle at all. Getting patients back on their feet more quickly and with less discomfort and pain.

After suddenly losing my mobility at the age of 46, I was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis in my left hip. In August 2019 I saw Mr Kulkarni and he informed me of the SuperPath procedure. The day of my surgery, I woke up free from relentless grinding pain and within hours was able to walk to the toilet with a frame. The week after I was able to walk crutch free around my house and have made significant improvements since. A year on I actually enjoy walking again. Mr Kulkarni and SuperPath surgery have given me back my mobility, my life and my hope for the future.

Attend our virtual event: Meet our expert on SuperPath Hip Replacement Surgery 10 March 2021 This event will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams and your appointment link will be emailed over to you with exact details of when to log in. You’ll have a free 10-minute advice session with our expert Orthopaedic consultant Mr Ashwin Kulkarni.

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FOOD COURT In this issue, local businesspeople choose their favourite places to eat in and around Leicestershire

The best eating establishments in Leicestershire PAUL BAKER


Managing Director at Bakers Waste

As a follower of Knight & Garter on social media, I have often found myself wanting to try the weekend brunch. In October, I finally decided to give it a go. A warm, inviting, and stunning venue, you know it’s going to be more than just food and drink as soon as you enter. The menu was not disappointing and ‘Bottomless Mimosas!’ caught our eye. Well, it was now noon so that’s OK, isn’t it? After all, they shut at 10pm. To soak up the Mimosas, we had a full English. This did not disappoint either, in quantity or quality, with excellent ingredients. I have always enjoyed having a drink here when visiting the city centre, whether I’m with my wife, the whole family or just me and mates after football,



Managing Director at Digital Ethos

96 | NICHE 0116 303 3310 14 HOTEL ST, LEICESTER LE1 5AW the ambiance is always welcoming. The Budvar beer served here is not found in many places I visit, so this does make it different especially in the large steins! As we found, like every time we visit the Knight, time flew, so we needed another nibble before leaving. We had to try the pint of prawns. Wow. The prawns were just amazing, perfectly cooked and overflowing from the glass. The attention and service we received was excellent – nothing was too much trouble for the team to ensure we had the best experience. While I think it’s fair to say the prices were not the cheapest, I would say it was great value for money overall and makes me want to go back again and again. 0116 248 9100 ORTON SQUARE, LEICESTER LE1 1RD I’m always on the lookout for exciting new places to dine out in Leicester and when I heard about Orton’s Brasserie opening up, my interest was piqued and it has definitely lived up to the hype. Situated in a Grade II listed building with street art adorning the walls of the interior, it’s classy with a modern, playful edge. The branding is inspired by the restaurant’s namesake and legendary Leicester-born playwright Joe Orton. The gorilla motif used throughout is a nod to the notorious trial he was involved in for defacing book covers, dubbed ‘The Gorilla and the Rose’ – as a marketer I love a good backstory! It’s not just the decor that’s impressive – when it comes to

food, the menu at Orton’s does not disappoint. The chefs use locally sourced ingredients for their small but mighty à la carte menu, which changes seasonally and offers a modern take on classic dishes. They’ve clearly taken inspiration from Leicester’s rich cultural heritage; I was blown away by the fish and chips which have been given a ‘Leicester’ twist by introducing Indian spices into this traditionally English takeaway meal. The extensive cocktail menu has loads of great options (the staff will happily recommend their favourites if you’re not sure what to go for) but my favourite has to be the Negroni – a classic.

JAKE ELLIOTT Lead Generation Consultant at Cross Productions

CHRIS CAIN Owner at Kazzoo


fb/nazarbarbecuehouse 0116 249 0006 42 MAIN ST, EVINGTON, LEICESTER LE5 6DN I first visited Nazar about two years ago for my friend’s birthday, unsure whether Turkish was my thing or not. I quickly realised what I was missing out on! It has become my go-to place for a meal. Nazar offers a dine-in or takeaway service to suit all requirements and is a restaurant filled with Turkish heritage and decor, which, as a result, offers an even better dining experience combined with the great service and warm welcome provided by all of the staff. It offers a range of tasty Mezes for starters, followed by a range of individual mains as well as set menus. I personally go for the chicken shish every time; the chicken is succulent and so tasty and never gets boring. Even

the rice is cooked liked no other place (I wish I knew their secret!). Giving in to temptation every time, I also order a portion of chilli cheese bites, halloumi cheese, and a portion of chips as a side, accompanied by a fresh lemonade to really get your taste buds going. I would highly recommend that you take a visit to Nazar Barbecue House in Evington, I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed and will want to return again. I’ve missed visiting the restaurant during the lockdowns, but could not resist getting a takeaway. The restaurant serves the best quality food at great value prices and is a very popular venue, always bustling with appreciative customers.

YUM SING 0116 271 6331 11 LEICESTER RD, OADBY, LEICESTER LE2 5BD Set in the heart of Oadby is my favourite Cantonese restaurant, Yum Sing. As you walk into this little restaurant you feel as though you’ve walked into a homely, family eatery, and you immediately have that feeling of friendly warmth. The website states that it bestows a casual, cosy atmosphere and I can certainly vouch for that. Alan and his team look after each and every customer to such a high standard, nothing is ever too much trouble for them. The latest feedback, according to the website, records: “Friendly and attentive service and priced right for the quality of the dishes.” I usually go for the chicken rolls and

prawn crackers for starters, followed by the chicken in black bean sauce (nice and spicy) with egg fried rice and chilli chips for a main. The dessert is something else. If you ever want to taste the most amazing sculpted pineapple dish, look no further than Yum Sing. It is elegant and delicious. A treat for the eyes and the taste buds. Before the Covid pandemic, I would regularly meet friends on a monthly basis at the restaurant to have a catch up. I always delighted in sharing my birthday meal with friends there. I hope to continue to do so in the years to come. In my opinion this is one of the best restaurants in Leicester.



Hospitality Industry Consultant and Mentor

My work and life is hospitality, it’s also my passion, so I spend a huge amount of time thinking about this stuff. I look forward to a visit to my local restaurant, or a cosy tearoom or Sunday lunch with real delight, but the places I have missed most during lockdown have been the pubs. In particular, those fantastic places created, seemingly with no effort, where you can meet up with friends, relax, and chinwag. Where you don’t have to worry about the quality or cost of the drinks and you get to grab some delicious food into the bargain. For me there is nowhere better than The Rutland & Derby Arms on Millstone Lane. A stylish, airy venue with ample


space, cosy booths (great for social distancing), an inventive quirky outside space, a fantastic drinks list with craft beers, real ale, cocktails, artisan spirits and a great wine list. What is not to love? particularly when you add a pub quiz, occasional live music and the exceptional service from the professional and friendly staff. Then top it all off with the best value quality menu around, with salads and sandwiches starting from just £6, pizzas around £10 and main meals topping at only £12. But mostly, I am missing a Creole Spiced Pizza, but then the Pie & Chips ‘basket meal’ at £10.50 is also irresistible. NICHE | 97


The flames that make the fire Orton’s Brasserie was (figuratively) on fire when it opened last year. We introduce the flames that set it alight WORDS BY KERRY SMITH


rton’s is one of those places where the waiter will have you engaged in conversation right from the get go. It’s a place from which you walk away talking about the staff. And only in a good way. Their quirky personalities, quick wit, and banterous yet quintessentially well-mannered conversation are talking points for guests which see them return again and again; not to mention the photo-op potential of the aesthetically pleasing décor perfect for ‘the gram’, which social media users were hot on before last year’s second lockdown. Whether you stumble across the gorilla mascot on your way through the Cultural Quarter and are enticed in for a spontaneous after-work beverage with your mates,

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you’ve booked a table for a first date with a touch of class, or you’re looking to treat your parents to a special evening out on their anniversary, Orton’s has a vibe to suit all. It’s partly down to the distinctive look of the place, but it’s the staff who will make your visit one to remember. The team, each exquisitely dressed in smart-casual attire, are the Orton’s brand themselves. Hand-picked by owner Guy Kersey, the Orton’s crew are altogether interesting, unique, highly skilled, and passionate about hospitality. When they were open before the tiers were introduced, they were – metaphorically – on fire. Having opened for the first time this year, mid-pandemic, we thought we’d introduce them to our readers who’ve not yet had the chance to meet them.



Age 22 from Superior, Michigan, USA Responsible for: Drinks making, service, preparations and garnish creation, recipe writing and menu creation, stock and ordering processes. Loves most about his job: The science and art of cocktails and seeing guests fall in love with Orton’s. Best Orton’s anecdote: On my second shift ever, I worked a 13-hour shift and the day literally felt like 30 seconds. It was one of the smoothest, fastest and most gratifying nights of my career. At the end of the night, I got my pink tie and officially started. What he brings to the table: An original attitude and style, and charismatic, old-fashioned American hospitality that everyone should know and love. Where he’s worked before: Hospitality for eight years, with work focusing on recipe creation, stock diversity, and the study of spirits and distillation and brewing. What he does outside of work: Military simulation operator, airsoft player and ice hockey player. Studies anthropology, astronomy, astrophysics, graphic design and artistry. Biggest inspo: My mother who was a Sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division, US Army. She defied odds, overcame gender inequality and led men and women through the biggest adventure of their lives. I try to incorporate her strength and will into my life every single day.


Age 21 from Crewe Loves most about her job: Making people happy with the help of the best food and drink in Leicester. Describes Orton’s as: Fun and boozy. Currently: A third year student at DMU studying graphic design. Where she’s worked before: In catering since age 15 at the likes of Stoke City Football Club, Keele Hall, and a local gelatisserie along with other random stuff. Hobbies and interests: Spending time with friends and travelling. I also enjoy chucking myself out of planes and anything else to push myself. Biggest inspo: Front of House Manager Ciro and General Manager Kev are my inspiration. Career goals: I’m only 21 so who knows. But I’d love to eventually go on to do some sort of combination of graphic design, travel and catering. Who she’d invite for dinner at Orton’s: Hmm someone really controversial, maybe Jesus?


Age 17 from Leicester Responsible for: Ensuring food and drinks are taken to the correct tables and ensuring all guests have the best time possible. Loves most about his job: The people. Getting to know the guests who dine and drink at Orton’s and hanging out with the rest of the team is what is so great about my job. Best Orton’s anecdote: When a group of ladies were chanting my name! What he brings to the table: A helping hand to the front of house team, a friendly face to guests, and the best food and drink made by the best bar tenders and chefs. Hobbies and interests: I love football and movies. Favourite things: While I don’t have a favourite film, I am a fan boy over Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson! Who he’d invite for dinner at Orton’s: Michael Jackson, or Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson, of course.


Age 24 from Connecticut, USA Responsible for: Upholding safety and cleanliness standards for guests as well as providing them with the best dining experience possible. To me that means going above and beyond what people expect from a server to make every guest feel like a VIP. Loves most about her job: Having fun with customers and meeting new people. I’m a huge people person and I enjoy getting to know customers and building positive relationships that keep people coming back. Best Orton’s anecdote: The day we all got together and tried the new winter menu. It was an opportunity for the whole team to get together and share all the things we had been working on. It was like a big family holiday meal! Describes Orton’s as: Fun but sophisticated. While we love to enjoy good food and good booze, we do it in a way where everyone can have fun and feel safe. Qualifications: Bachelors of Science degree in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Politics. Favourite things: My favourite film is a Taika Waititi film called Hunt for the Wilderpeople. My favourite book is “Women Don’t Owe You Pretty” by Florence Given, and my favourite artist is probably Fleetwood Mac. Biggest inspo: US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Who she’d invite for dinner at Orton’s: Mom. She passed away in February 2020. She loved good food, good wine and a good time, all the things Orton’s does best.


Age 33 from Lincoln Loves most about his job: Meeting our guests and spending time behind the bar. Describes Orton’s as: Unpretentious. Whether you’re looking for fine dining or a night out, it ticks all the boxes. What he brings to the table: Organisation and cocktails. Myself and Frankie designed the cocktail menu from scratch, they’re all classics with a contemporary twist. Qualifications: One third of a degree in business management. Where he’s worked before: In hospitality for 15 years with seven of those in management. I’ve been a kitchen manger, pot wash, glass collector, chef, and I’ve worked in lively student pubs to cocktail bars, local boozers, and restaurants, but Orton’s is the finest end of the scale. What he does outside of work: Rock climbing, bouldering, and spending time with my two young boys. It’s been lovely to spend more time with them during lockdown – there’s a silver lining to everything. Favourite things: At the minute it’s a band called Postmodern Just Box, they do 1920s jazz covers of modern songs. It’s been a lot of fun to listen to them in lockdown. Challenges faced over lockdown: Losing weight. Lockdown 1 added about three stone on to me. But I lost 4lb during this first week of my diet! Career goals: Proving the Orton’s concept works. I think the rest of the country needs to see it. Who he’d invite for dinner at Orton’s: My grandparents. NICHE | 99


into a new year


ill 2021 bring with it a brand new car? Change is good and with a new year comes plenty. Switching up your wheels could be a change that gives you that much needed lift at the start of 2021. How do you pick the right car to suit you and your lifestyle? Finding the right vehicle goes much further than considering what sort of colour you to pick or simply selecting the latest model. Setting up test drives, considering the finances, and taking into account what works for you and yours isn’t a fast-track purchase. The best thing to do here is seek out the experts, as is often the case, and to discover what best suits your needs and budget rather than a desire for looks alone.


Making an entrance

CEO Dream Car Consultants


hen it comes to finding the perfect match for a client and their new car, I thoroughly enjoy the process from start to finish. With clients often too busy to source the car themselves, I discover what it is they need and get to work on finding the ideal match. Hilary Devey, known for her role on TV’s Dragons Den, requested my assistance in finding a car for her appearances and every day life – and I delighted in finding the right fit.

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After discovering her budget and knowing the image Hilary wanted to portray, I suggested that to stand out and create the right impression, there is nothing better than a Rolls-Royce Phantom. Not only did it look the part, but it had exactly the right spec inside to suit what she needed, including massage seats, a fridge, reclining seats, and plenty of added luxurious touches adding to the prestige of the purchase. Too busy to survey the market

herself, she relied on my personal knowledge which makes it easy for me to arrange suppliers and test drives quickly through my comprehensive network of contacts. I sourced exactly the right specifications for her, including aspects that she hadn’t even considered herself. Hilary was thrilled and not only was her purchase successful for its practicality and her lifestyle, but she made an entrance wherever she travelled too!


Making drivers' dreams come true As the founder of Dream Car Consultants, Kiran Mistry combines his perfect job with helping others achieve their ideal wheels


passion for cars has been a part of his makeup as far back as car consultant Kiran Mistry can remember, “My dream car was and always will be a Ferrari F40; an iconic car even today. It captures exactly what Ferrari is all about, they build cars with Italian excellence to win on both the road and the track. It’s not just about aesthetics and engineering, it’s about history, passion and how it makes you feel," Kiran says enthusiastically. Kiran, who has a motor vehicle engineering qualification, adds: “I learnt the inner workings of cars from both the practical and theory stance, rebuilding engines, gearboxes and much more without manuals. Having learnt about engineering aerodynamics, bodywork, electronics and so forth, I know the technicalities of cars and how they work.” After some years of owning a luxury, corporate chauffeur business, he soon found he could combine his enjoyment of cars with his knowledge and started Dream Car Consultants, a company which considers the

lifestyle and needs a driver has when looking for a new or used purchase, then finds them their perfect match. “Because I have knowledge and experience on the engineering side of cars as well as the appreciation of their styling, my team and I find exactly what a client wants by listening to their lifestyle needs and budget. With this understanding, I can then find the right luxury car for them via local, nationwide and international partners by arranging test drives and working out their financial elements.” Taking the stress out of ‘car shopping’, Kiran has assisted a number of high profile clients over the last few years and, as he says: “Yes, driving is functional, but I think it should be pleasurable too. By finding the right car and helping to make a dream a reality, well, that all helps to make it the pleasure it should be!” Contact Kiran on 07458 303 121 or for more information, visit

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Unit 5, The Mill Lane Industrial Estate, Mill Lane, Glenfield, Leicester LE3 8DX Email: Website: NICHE | 101

Toyota Supra: The Legend. Reborn Car expert Kiran Mistry of Dream Car Consultants assesses the return of a classic Japanese performance model


he Supra’s iconic status spans four generations. Originally known as the ‘Celica’, the ‘Supra’ brand was recreated in 1986. Beyond the aesthetics, its highly desirable 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged inline-six engine has been at the core of the Supra legacy. It further shot to stardom after its appearance in the acclaimed 2001 Fast and Furious mega-film and became one of the most desirable Japanese cars of its generation. The 2020 comeback of the Supra Mk5 has a modern twist as Toyota joins hands with BMW and their development of the BMWvZ4 M40i. Purists may scoff and be disappointed, but given global diverging markets, digital demands and overall cost pressures, this paradigm shift towards greater collaboration is eminently sensible and an increasingly popular trend. As a result, take a look at the spec sheet and you’ll notice that it shares its 3.0-litre turbocharged straightsix, gearbox, differential and basic suspension set-up. A closer look at the interior will reveal the presence of BMW switches, stalks and other controls. The 8.8-inch display is essentially BMW’s iDrive setup and whilst it’s the German


Farmer and Carlisle Leicester 129 Welford Road, Leicester, Leicestershire LE2 6BE 0116 285 2851

company's previous generation, it’s still very decent indeed. With the 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six, you get 335bhp paired to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and rear-wheel drive. The bucket seats are snug and along with super-sticky Michelin Super Sport tyres you feel the tremendous traction. The electronically-controlled limitedslip differential gives you the racing feel and heritage as you manoeuvre the car around corners. The Legend. Reborn. I’d say it’s more like a reincarnation! The soul has been reborn with a German chromosome and as a result, the experience is, as they say in German: “Freude am Fahren” – Sheer Driving Pleasure!


Farmer and Carlisle Loughborough Belton Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 1ND 01509 215 731

*0% APR Representative: Available on a wide selection of models between 1st December 2020 and 31st March 2021 and registered and financed through Toyota Financial Services by 31st March 2021 on a Toyota AccessFlex (PCP) plan with 0%-35% deposit. Subject to availability and status to over 18s. Other finance offers are available but cannot be used in conjunction with this offer. At the end of the agreement there are three options: i) pay the optional final payment and own the vehicle; ii) return the vehicle: subject to excess mileage and fair wear and tear, charges may apply; or iii) replace: part exchange the vehicle. World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP): Fuel economy and CO2 results for the Toyota range: Mpg (I/100km) (combined): 27.4 (19.3) to 217.2 (3.7). CO2 emissions 29 – 212 g/km. All models and grades are certified according to the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), which replaces the New European Driving Cycle test procedure (NEDC). All CO2 figures quoted are NEDC equivalent. This means the CO2 figures are based on the new WLTP test procedure but calculated (using a standard European calculation method) to allow comparison with the NEDC test procedure and will be used to calculate vehicle tax on first registration. All mpg figures quoted are full WLTP figures. More information can be found by visiting The Vehicle Certification Agency website:

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Corporate Social Responsibility A

s the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact businesses, it is crucial that corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts aren’t put on the back burner. Instead, businesses should tailor their plans to meet the demands of the new normal, adapting and approaching their local community with a sense of care. Among the benefits of investing in a CSR strategy is creating an accessible ‘human’ identity, and a company with a strong social conscience will create a positive Image to clients and customers as well as its employees and potential employees. Businesses have a chance to give back to those who have supported their growth pre-pandemic. However, adaptation is needed, and business leaders must realign their efforts to suit the current climate – communication with the organisation they are supporting is key here. Shoppers and clients enjoy playing their part by supporting businesses that share their success with those who need it. Workers want to feel they are part of something bigger than

just an office. CSR efforts allow employees to channel empathy, understanding, and support into their work. Considering the importance of social responsibility to a business’s employees, it’s crucial businesses communicate ongoing CSR strategies and commitments, even as they change. Part of this could include asking employees to participate in the strategy from the start. You could consider sending an email to staff, discussing the company’s ongoing CSR policy welcoming suggestions on approaches and local causes which the business can support. Since the pandemic, a shift in the awareness of our local communities and charities has occurred. Many of our Leicestershire business community have created opportunities to support not only the business in their communities, but the charities too. The charities that we have talked to in this feature have all commented that they have been taken aback by the response of local businesses to their support in the pandemic, and of course, this response will need to continue.

Changing lives in Leicester & Leicestershire Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL) is a charity that has been helping local people to change their lives for the better for over 50 years.  Supporting local charities by providing advice, training and resources  Promoting volunteering across the city and county  Helping people find work through our YES and GREAT projects  Supporting people with learning disabilities to live fulfilling lives  Low-cost office space for local businesses and charities

If you’d like to help VAL improve the lives of local people, get in touch with us today 0116 257 5050

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Support in

difficult times It would be easy to presume that giving back was off the radar for businesses after last year, but the CEO of a Leicestershire Charity Menphys, brings news of a different kind of reaction


n a time when Menphys adapted and changed the way they supported their young people and families by moving to a At Home Support Service and online resources, CEO Ian Caldwell explained that it wasn’t only the charity that changed the way they did things, “At the start of the first lockdown last year we, like most in the charity sector, feared the support from businesses would reduce as they needed to ‘tighten their purse strings’. However, what we have seen is support continue in new and more dynamic ways.” The charity, which provides a range of specialist services to support children and young adults with disabilities and their families, altered the way they supported their service users during much of 2020. “We created fun and enriching packs to be delivered directly to families and found ways to provide online resources for families. We even arranged ‘Back to School’ haircuts for those who needed them as lockdowns lifted and we continued to provide an increased presence

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online to provide any help that we could,” Ian explains. Of course, funding was difficult but with some grant support and strong and lasting relationships with local businesses over 2200 items were sent between April and December. Ian is more than hopeful that 2021 will mean Menphys can once again provide the full service that families have come to rely on. “The partnerships we are looking to make support both the aims of the businesses as well as the charity. Businesses know exactly where their time, money and effort is directed and they are making a real difference within their community which in turn gains them respect and admiration from their customers and employees for their commitment to our charity.” If you would like to know more about adopting Menphys as your chosen Charity Partner contact Ian and his team at the Menphys Hub on 01455 323 020 or visit to find out more.

26/11/2020 12:30



Help for

Hope Against Cancer is calling on businesses and individuals to do what they can to help them continue their essential work


aving brought cuttingedge research to the area, as well as making clinical trials available to local people and providing support in a variety of ways, Hope Against Cancer continues to be there for those who need them. Since 2003, they have raised £6m and funded over 60 research projects tackling many forms of cancer. Helping more local people survive cancer by funding innovative research that leads to improved treatments, the charity is crucial in the fight against cancer. With the public’s help, when this global crisis is over, they will still be there providing support to local cancer patients in the only way they know how: through funding world-class research.

Even in these uncertain times, they remain tirelessly committed to beating cancer. Hope’s CEO Nigel Rose said: “Whilst our participation fundraising events have had to adapt according to the pandemic, we are still here continuing our research. Hope Against Cancer has a loyal, local support base, and as cancer patients have suffered due to missed diagnoses and treatments during this difficult time, our world-class, life-saving research is more important than ever.” Undoubtedly, the crisis will have an economic impact on their fundraising and the charity calls for anyone able to support them to do so to help continue their valuable research. The


charity receives no government funding and is entirely reliant on the generosity and loyal support of community groups and individuals to allow their crucial work to continue. Nigel added: “We have had to adapt our way of doing things, much like everyone has, but we are very keen to emphasise that we are flexible, strong and committed, but we need help to ensure that we rise to the challenge of these extremely difficult times.” For over 17 years, Hope has invested time and money in fighting the disease which affects so many of us; they need your help to do so for many more years to come, visit to find out how.

Funding world class cancer research in Leicester Find out more about how Hope Against Cancer is supporting world class research in Leicester

Call 0116 270 0101 Registered Charity No. 1091480. Company No. 4397137 NICHE | 105

Making the most

of charity

Charity Link maximises donations from businesses to support local families in need


harity Link has a 140-year history of working with Leicester businesses and in October 2019 launched its ‘Proud Business Supporter Club’ (PBS). The club offers companies of all sizes the opportunity to make a massive difference. Due to Charity Link’s unique way of working (each £10 donated helps to untap £50 from charitable trusts), PBS members who give a £50 monthly donation actually help to provide £3,000 of essential items each year to the most vulnerable people in the city and county. Gold members’ £100 monthly donation provides £6,000 worth of items. Graham Smith, Managing Director of Cunningtons Accountants, a PBS Member says: “We have chosen to support Charity Link, knowing that the money we donate will have the greatest impact at a local level and will help to improve the lives of those most in need within the community we serve.”

Charity Link also believes that whilst providing vital funding and support, partnerships can be extremely beneficial for the business lending their support too. Susan McEniff, Director at Charity Link, says: “We can offer many positive opportunities, whether a business joins our PBS Club or wants to get involved in a different way. From networking with like-minded businesses, to supporting their brand-values with positive PR, to teambuilding, including activities such as our January Sleepover or Leicestershire Three Peaks Challenge, we find out what a business wants from our activity together to ensure their CSR and wider aims are achieved. That is the key to a successful partnership and is one of the reasons that we’ve been working with a number of businesses for many years.” To find out more about the opportunities at Charity Link contact Sue McEniff on 0116 222 2212, visit or email

Let’s make a difference

Join our Ethical Business Club and help us eradicate Duchenne

for just £75 per month Please contact Emma Hallam on 07903 349475 or email for details For details visit

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A rising tide

lifts many boats Having a safe space that gives the young people of Leicester the opportunity to take a breath and be curious, a place they can truly be themselves, a place where they can flourish and belong is vital


OCUS Charity supports young people between the ages of 13 and 25 who come from some of Leicester’s most deprived communities, to develop the skills, confidence and aspirations to lead fulfilling lives and ultimately give back to the world through volunteering. The charity’s work has never been more in demand, bursting at the seams with young people who need their support. With referring organisations such as social services and schools massively overstretched, they are called upon to offer the additional support so many young people desperately need. “Youth work has not been a government priority for many years after huge funding cuts. So, our work is dependent on corporate, and individual donations along with trust and grant giving organisations,” Emily Taylor, Director of Communications at Focus said. Funding from local corporations is vital for the charity to continue to meet the growing demand for their services. Launching a new membership programme in 2021, the charity are keen to

ensure that a relationship with any business is a flexible one with companies able to invest in their work and, in doing so, they are able to raise the skills, confidence and aspirations of young people. Everyone benefits. Young people’s lives are improved, their future prospects grow, and the future workforce becomes better skilled and more motivated. The charity is aware of how much or little a business might want to be involved and works with their supporters closely. “We are happy to discuss the best way forward and what works in terms of investments in time and money for a company. Some may want to keep things simple with just a financial investment while others may wish to attend events or engage their staff in volunteering with us. We also recognise that the level of engagement might vary over time or through the seasons. Every company is unique,” Focus Chief Executive Matt Lilly said. Businesses and charities working together in our communities is a relationship which sees the most impact. Working with local charities


means that companies are better able to see the impact of their support and are therefore more likely to have a personal relationship with the staff and volunteers at the charity and can engage directly with the charity’s work. They are also able to do more with their donations, as there’s often a higher proportion of their funding that will go directly to supporting the charity’s beneficiaries. “A rising tide lifts many boats,” Emily said. “A thriving community means thriving businesses. We can all play a role in making Leicester a stronger community moving forward.” To find out more about the new and exciting membership support programme email emily., or visit

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CSR that supports

real change Investing in our local economy has been one of the key discussions for the past year, but investing in our local community is just as essential, if not more so, for 2021


orking directly with refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants as well as supporting members of BAME communities and those from lower income families in the city and county, the Afro Innovation Group (AIG) is calling on local business to support them through Corporate Social Responsibility in 2021. By becoming a Corporate Champion you can help them to continue the incredible work they do with over 500 people who need it every year. The charity, founded by refugees in 2006, empowers its beneficiaries to access a range of essential services such as employment and housing support in order to become an integral part of Leicester’s diverse community. “For us to grow and continue with our five year plan to assist more vulnerable people, which has increased in need since the global pandemic with a loss of employment opportunities, homelessness and domestic abuse levels rising, we need continued and stable support from businesses looking to make a real and direct difference to

the lives of people in their local community and economy,” said Lloyd Ganza, Business Development Manager at AIG. Becoming a supporter of the charity means that investors will be part of a CSR programme, which does real, effective ground work within the local community, and will also create opportunity for businesses to gain connections with an enthusiastic and skilled employee market. “Much of AIG’s work is around the practical elements of settling into a new life; but perhaps more essential is the work that we are able to do to support this resettlement, such as recreational and befriending activities, things that really enable and encourage community living and all the benefits that come with that for the beneficiaries and the city. Helping people into employment for the benefit of everyone is a key component of our work,” Lloyd commented. Contact the charity on 0116 208 1341 or via the website and make your CSR count right here in the heart of Leicestershire’s community.

Think Funding and

community A Leicester Giving Day is in the pipeline for Think Funding Leicester


elping charities and social enterprises to access much needed funding is more than a job for Think Funding owner, Chris Shaw. His work is driven by a strong sense of social justice, especially regarding those communities in Leicester and Leicestershire that lack resources or support services. “My work enables me to see at first hand the positive impact that community groups make in and around where I live,” Chris explains. The Leicester-born, business consultant and fundraiser is committed to supporting local organisations. His experience of working in local communities has given him a deep knowledge about the support that community organisations need to create solutions for the problems they face. “After 30 years working in many 108 | NICHE

different settings, you get a real sense about local need,” says Chris. “My role is to help local organisations secure resources to address those needs.” Think Funding has experience working with EU, UK national and regional funders in multiple settings, including young people’s services; local economic development and enterprise; health and wellbeing; housing and environmental services and arts and culture. This past year in particular has created a stronger awareness about the needs of our communities, and here in Leicester and Leicestershire the response during the pandemic has been extraordinary from both the general public, businesses and, of course, the voluntary sector. “I’ve been able to secure a great deal of funding for charities during

the past ten months. We’ve pulled in grants from a wide range of sources including the Cultural Recovery Fund, BBC Children In Need and the National Lottery Community Fund. The New Year will be a massive challenge, though. Charities will need to up their game to create new sources of income as competition for grant funds will be fierce. Strategic planning and service innovation will be key to future success,” Chris adds. Later this year Think Funding hopes to work with partners to establish the first ever Leicester Giving Day, creating opportunities for local businesses and charities to build lasting and beneficial partnerships. Watch this space for news on this exciting new initiative. For more information about Think Funding visit



The Bridge turns The demand for local homelessness charity The Bridge (East Midlands) services rose by more than 90% in June 2020 compared to June 2019 WORDS BY EMILY MILLER


he demand for The Bridge’s services here in Leicestershire last year was exceeded as the charity worked hard with the local community to continue to support those that needed it. Molly Boggis, Head of Housing Services at The Bridge, said: “While celebrating our 25th anniversary, it gives us great joy to see how far we have come and what our impact is on the local community on a daily basis. “Whether it’s a food parcel, tenancy support, assistance with housing applications, or family mediation, we will always continue striving towards our vision of resilient and compassionate communities. “There are always new challenges to be faced; this past year has presented more obstacles than ever before. Despite the on-going pandemic, we have adapted our services and continued operating, while dealing with the vastly increased demand for support. “Times are tough for so many, and we are extremely grateful to those who have helped us reach our £25,000 2020 fundraising target in just nine months. We are excited to set a new challenge though, to help us expand some of our services to cope with the increase in demand, including our 0800 number which has

dealt with 75% more enquiries from March to September than the same time last year. “Having doubled our initial fundraising target, we are so proud to say that we have now successfully raised over £50,000 during 2020. We hope that the community will continue to support us and get behind us in the ongoing fight against homelessness, particularly as we go through the difficult upcoming months.” Since 1995, The Bridge has grown significantly, and the organisation now employs 45 staff who deliver 12 different services across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Working holistically, The Bridge helps local people to address the root causes of homelessness and find longerterm sustainable solutions. It offers assistance to a range of client groups including young people, ex-offenders, street homeless people, families, landlords and those who are housed but at risk of crisis. The award-winning homelessness prevention charity has gained great recognition over the years, presenting at national conferences and receiving long-term support from the likes of Children in Need, and the National Lottery Community Fund. The organisation has


benefitted from the fantastic generosity of local people, and adapted ways of fundraising throughout ‘lockdown’, including hosting online quizzes and social media call-outs. Paul Snape, Deputy Chief Officer, who has worked at The Bridge for 18 years, commented: “Our longevity is testament to the success of our work, and we are also incredibly proud to have nurtured great partnerships with the council, the wider voluntary sector and other statutory organisations. I’m also incredibly proud of our team who work tirelessly to improve the lives of others.” The charity is now seeking further help from the Leicestershire business community and is looking to partner with businesses who want to make a real difference to the lives of people in their local communities and the economy. For more information on The Bridge’s services, to read client stories or to gain support for a fundraising event visit their website at or call 01509 260 500.

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Bringing home

experience CEO of Warning Zone tells us why she swapped a global career in international development for charity work closer to home WORDS BY EMILY MILLER


nce a figure in fashion PR, Elaine Stevenson’s desire to be part of something more meaningful meant she left the media frontline for decades of international charity work. Whilst in remote parts of the world, Elaine headed large scale programmes working in solidarity with communities to access funding, resources and networks. Her role also included strengthening their capacity to address inequality and inequity through challenging local, national, and global practices, policies and laws. She said: “In South Africa, we worked with young and vulnerable people. Many of them were survivors of abuse, gangs, and extreme poverty, who were denied access to education, health care and their human rights, facing a lack of global political will. We engaged in partnership at all local levels, with NGOs, teachers, police, medical professionals, lawyers, sports

coaches, and many others to improve their experience from the ground up, increasing their self-belief and choices.” Elaine went on to become CEO at Warning Zone in January 2020, which ensures children and young people are aware of risks and choices, and are resilient to all forms of coercion, from peer pressure and bullying to grooming, abuse, hate crime and radicalisation. Her daughter inspired Elaine to work for Warning Zone after a school visit to the charity eight years ago. “It had a big and long-lasting impact on her and her peers. I had seen for myself through direct experience the importance of work with young people in Leicester, and I could see the dedication of the charity and its partners, including schools, the police, the Fire and Rescue Service, the High Sheriffs, funders and corporate supporters, and knew I’d love to be part of Warning Zone. “Teaching life skills to prevent

harm, injury, death, crime, abuse, incarceration and radicalisation, educating children about coercive behaviours, how to reduce risk and make positive choices, Warning Zone empowers young people with the knowledge and confidence to talk about their concerns and seek help if needed.” Warning Zone’s founders, trustees, supporters, partners, staff and volunteers have created, developed and sustained this successful organisation and are on a continual journey to remain current, relevant, fun and financially stable. “We welcome the focused support of businesses – including corporate volunteering – to strengthen Warning Zone and ensure we’re here for children for as long as we’re needed.” Discover more about the important programmes Warning Zone offer by calling 0116 262 9739 or visit


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Wednesday 30th June 2021 Shotgun Start: 2-00pm | Followed by dinner and prizes

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Easing the suffering of

Domestic and financial problems Hardships were faced across the country last year including widespread job losses and increased domestic abuse cases during the pandemic – this charity wants to help


he Zinthiya Trust reaches out to those who have found themselves in need of financial support or are suffering domestic abuse. Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan, who founded and runs the charity, hopes to show that people are not alone if they now need money and debt advice, or are experiencing abuse. Between March 20 and December 20 last year, the charity managed £459,752 and wrote off £221,263 worth of debt. The gains in beneficiary income was £636,080 and 360 people were helped with budgeting. Zinthiya said: “We are here to be your someone to turn to. Whatever situation you find yourself in right now, know that we can help or that we can find someone who can help you.” Zinthiya Trust is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, and team members are trained to deal with a range of financial issues from bankruptcy, debt relief orders, and emergency gas and electricity top ups, through to completing application forms to apply for Universal Credit. “People who have made a living their whole lives are

suddenly losing their jobs. They don’t know how to navigate the system or even where to start. They might also be embarrassed due to the stigma associated with applying for benefits. But these people are not alone,” Zinthiya explained. “Some won’t even know that they are eligible to apply. That’s why it’s important to reach out to us as soon as possible. We can help manage debts, find ways of increasing income, and donate time and advice to you.” The Trust also supports women and girls fleeing violence. During 2019 they provided over 2000 nights of emergency accommodation to women and girls who fled violence. “We know abuse has no boundaries and we are here to help and not judge. We are able to support with securing emergency accommodation for any women who want to leave a violent relationships. “We understand that, if leaving was easy, many women would have done it. Others might want to get out completely. In any case, we will form a safety plan to suit the needs of each person.” Thanks to the Smallwood Trust, Zinthiya Trust can also help


women with hardship grants. They also have access to other organisations that provide grants to individuals which the team can assist with when applying. Last year, they applied for 416 grants for individuals amounting to £188,423. Zinthiya added: “We have also launched our emergency fund and we are thankful to Nylacast and She Inspires for donating the initial money to set up the fund. Through this, we will be able to support women who have no recourse to public funding and are made destitute, to have access to basic items such as prescriptions, eye tests, or even purchase emergency clothing or underwear for themselves and their children – all those things we all take for granted.” If you or anyone you know is ready to seek help, contact The Zinthiya Trust using any method you feel safe to use. You can call 0116 254 5168, message on Facebook @ZinthiyaTrust or email Always dial 999 in emergencies.

NICHE | 111

New Awards a big success The first Leicestershire Community Champions Awards was held on Tuesday November 24, with the Midland Langar Seva Society taking the flagship award of Charity of the Year


he Leicestershire Community Champions Awards was set up by the Furnley House Foundation in partnership with Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL), to celebrate the amazing people and organisations who have gone above and beyond to help their local communities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The Furnley House Foundation was born out of Furnley House’s ambition to create opportunities and improve the lives of the local community. Usually, they hold a number of events to help bring the community together and have previously raised in excess of £40,000 each year for charities and not for profits. For the awards, the Foundation asked people to nominate their local heroes over ten categories including registered charities, community organisations, local businesses, as well as individuals. Hosted by local celebrity Ian Stringer, the virtual awards evening on Tuesday November 24 was attended by more than 160 people online. Over

£650 was raised on the night, plus an additional £250 from some generous Furnley House clients, which will be split equally between the five Charity of the Year finalists. Midland Langar Seva Society were awarded the title of Charity of the Year, which was sponsored by Furnley House, winning a £5000 grant as well as a share of the proceeds from the next Furnley House Foundation Summer Ball. The runner up, Charity Link, will also receive tickets to the Ball. Stefan Fura, co-founder of Furnley House and Trustee of the Furnley House Foundation said: “It was great to see the community of Leicestershire pulling together during this difficult year. We are delighted that we’re able to raise awareness and support for so many local causes as well as celebrating the fantastic individuals and organisation who have really made a difference. Congratulations to all the very deserving finalists and winners. “Thank you to all our judges and sponsors for their generous support of the Awards and the Furnley House Foundation.”

CHARITY OF THE YEAR Sponsored by Furnley House Winner: MLSS – Midland Langar Seva Society Runner-up: Charity Link Finalists: Help the Homeless, Steps Conductive Education Centre, Zinthiya Trust CHARITY EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR Sponsored by The Miller Partnership Winner: Nicola Rhodes – Bodie Hodges Foundation Runners up: Francesca Pearson – Macmillan Cancer Support, Louise Wylie – Eyres Monsell Club for Young People YOUNG FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR Sponsored by Mark J Rees Winner: Alex Hallam Runners up: Faye Callaghan, George Wright, Martha Whittaker FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR Sponsored by Octopus Energy Winner: Glynis Wright Runners up: Janet Gilchrist, Richard Frape SUSTAINABILITY Sponsored by Fischer Future Heat Winner: Red Circle Angling Club & Nature Reserve Runners up: Your Local Air Ambulance, Soar Valley Press COMMUNITY SPIRIT CHAMPION – BUSINESS Sponsored by Glynis Wright & Co Winner: Ben’s Kitchen Runners up: Thaliwal & Veja Solicitors, Wigston Fields News and Deli COMMUNITY SPIRIT CHAMPION – INDIVIDUAL Sponsored by Pattersons Commercial Law Winner: Gareth Padfield Runners up: Dr Abeer Kholghi, Yvette De Sylva COMMUNITY EVENT OF THE YEAR Sponsored by Paradigm Wills & Legal Services Winner: Suits & Vinyl Runners up: Inderjit Bajaj – Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning, Pie Cycle COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS Sponsored by Soar Valley Press Winner: Woodgate Community Food Runners up: Syston Charity Crafting Group, We Care UK, Woodgate Community Food BEST SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE Sponsored by The Beauty Barn and Winfields Bookkeeping Winner: Help the Homeless Runners up: Leicestershire Cares, Soft Touch Arts




Shining a light in the darkness


Here’s what charity SoundCafe has been doing during the pandemic to shine a light in the dark for the homeless

e are all just three steps away from homelessness, says charity SoundCafe Leicester. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how fragile the vital social structures that we take for granted can be. Where people find themselves vulnerable and in need, SoundCafe is there to help. More than ever, SoundCafe’s activities have provided some of the most vulnerable local people with the opportunity to build their confidence. Alan Fletcher, Co-Chair Trustee at SoundCafe, said: “It’s important for us to provide everyone with a sense of belonging at a time when lockdown has caused more isolation and loneliness than ever before.” SoundCafe’s usual creative café at St Martins House had to be cancelled during lockdown. The charity developed a suite of new Covid-secure provisions to make sure its guests continue to benefit from its services. The new initiative, SoundCafe to Take Away, gives guests a takeaway bag containing a creative activity, as well as refreshments and useful resources like hand sanitiser and reusable face coverings. Alongside the takeaway, there are also football health and

wellbeing workshops run in conjunction with Leicester City in the community as well as creative writing workshops. These activities have been made possible through the generous support of the National Lottery, the Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation and private donors like Paragon Bank. Founded in 2014, SoundCafe aims to inspire those who are homeless or socially isolated by providing safe creative spaces. The charity offers services for guests that encourage their physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. It aims to create a diverse and inclusive community that reflects on personal experiences so that beneficiaries’ personal lives may be transformed and empowered. SoundCafe relies on external funding to maintain its activities and is keen to speak to individuals and businesses who share its ideals. If you would like to make a monthly contribution or want to know more about getting involved, visit or call Alan on 07780 607 063.

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ange NICHE | 113

A tribute to our friend

Tracey Miller

Niche Magazine was first published in 2013. That same year we had the pleasure of meeting Tracey, a real personality and lover of everything Leicester. A longstanding friendship was soon established. As a true ambassador of our brand, you wouldn’t find Tracey out without a copy of Niche in her handbag ready to seize any opportunity that might arise and point people our way using those famous words ‘you need to be in here!’ Her ongoing support and belief in the business have helped shape our magazine over the years. With Tracey’s honest feedback and constructive criticism, we have been able to grow and develop to meet the needs and ongoing demands of our loyal readers. Tracey was an integral part of this development. For that reason, we wanted to share a few words from various people within the business community who over time have also been touched by the kindness, love, and support of this incredible woman. Tracey had no idea just how much she meant to so many people. A tragic loss has been felt by Leicester’s business community.


racey Miller was one-of-a-kind, a vivacious person who lit up a room as she entered with her infectious laugh, occasional inappropriate jokes and state of the art jewellery. Tracey was a fantastic friend who could always be depended upon and was admired by us all for her huge heart and passion to support so many local charities and causes. Tracey lived and breathed all things Leicester, whether it was down at the football stadium cheering on LCFC, engaging with our city’s diverse communities, or attending and supporting local events – she was a true Leicester advocate. With a mutual love for purple, it was destined that Tracey became a close friend and an extended part of the ER team who revelled in listening to her funny stories and often sharing a few bubbles. We will always be so grateful for the support and love Tracey showed us. I’ve been lucky to share so many incredible memories and great times with Tracey and her husband Pete, she brought the sparkle to the party (literally, with her bags and accessories) and any time with Tracey always left me feeling liberated and loved. Although small, Tracey was mighty. If something needed organising, she was the first in line. If charitable funds needed raising, she would be there shaking her bucket. If great ideas needed injecting, she had a notebook of plenty. Always making a difference, always creating a smile. The absence of Tracey within the Leicester business community will be widely grieved and the events will shine less brightly without her presence, but we will always remember the incredible impact she had as a friend, charity advocate and Leicester ambassador. “Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it’s inspiring.” – And that’s what Tracey Miller was – inspiring. Good night and god bless our very own ‘sweetie’. Eileen Richards


t’s still hard to believe that the terrific Tracey Miller is no longer with us. I first met Tracey and her husband Pete at a Leicester Comedy Festival networking event at Curve Theatre and struck up a rapport after all three of us got picked on and dragged to the stage. The rest, as they say is history, and for the past five years, Tracey was a wonderful advocate and supporter of Soft Touch Arts. As a long-term member of our Soft Touch business development board, she was well-liked by our staff, young people and other supporters, and really understood how our work made a difference to young people. Tracey raised thousands of pounds for Soft Touch over the years and helped me and the charity to make new connections, and spread the word about our work and impact. Our charity has lost our number one supporter and we all miss her very much. She regularly came up with fantastic, off-the-wall, fun and unusual fundraising event ideas, which she would then organise brilliantly and, of course, always made sure there was an opportunity at the end to dance and party! She knew how to make things happen; ‘impossible’ was not a word that featured in her vocabulary and she certainly knew how to enjoy herself whilst making a difference. Tracey had an inimitable style; glitter ball handbags, strings of pearls, and off the shoulder frocks were wardrobe staples. But it was her cheeky smile, the laugh that made everyone laugh along with her, the mischievous glint in her eyes, and her fun, infectious presence that will be truly missed. Tracey touched the lives of so many people and helped make the Leicester community a better place for everyone, and she gave a huge amount of support and friendship to me personally. Leicester City 0 – Heaven 1 Christina Wigmore

Please consider a donation to charity in memory of Tracey Anne Miller:



’d alway hear Tracey before I saw her waltz into my boutique. “Hi Sweetie” I’d instantly grab the Champagne flutes, she’d have a catalog of fashion faux pas to show me and we’d laugh for hours. Though we laughed so much, we also spoke about real personal stuff, which I generally don’t do, but we really connected and shared so much and I will miss those deeper honest and wise conversations. I always felt adored by Tracey, we all know she had the biggest heart, she always wanted to instantly sort any problem I’d ever have and always was 100% supportive on any idea or event I was thinking about. I feel so privileged and grateful that I got to enjoy and experience this fun, crazy and caring woman on this journey of life that I will never ever forget. She lives on in our hearts. Sukhina Garcia

aving known this lovely lady since she was 17 years old, with her ability to live life to the full and enjoy all that she did, entering into it with all her available gusto and energy has always been, shall we say, prominent. If you mentioned an embryonic charity event idea to her, in minutes it had become a factual commitment with the PR in motion and the team being gathered quicker than she could down a bottle of Prosecco. Everything was possible in Tracey’s eyes and a challenge to be delivered at all costs to the highest quality, and raising the maximum amount of money. She embraced business charity events: the Gauntlet in 2015; The Balloon debate in 2016; she starred in the pre-event Dancing Around Town memorably leading us down to the Tigers ground with her stick and wheelchair, sometimes in it, sometimes out of it, but never quiet! When I mentioned Team Leicestershire and MIPIM she’d booked her flight and hotel – including special space for stick and wheelchair – and commandeered George Chuter and Matt Elliot to push her round Cannes before they could say “well actually Tracey I’m busy that week?” But she had a massive caring side to her which we all had the benefit of. She was a rock to many people, and someone who one could always be turned to for a considered view and, shall we say, ‘realistic’ sympathy, whether you wanted to hear it or not. But she never judged you: “Guyler, if that’s what you want then just do it!” She was just always there for you. She visited me three times in hospital when I had my stents put in a couple of years ago. She lit up the Glenfield Hospital. And she managed to drag me out of my slumbers after a heavy night out at MIPIM to achieve a world record dash back from Cannes starting at 5am on a Friday morning to get back to Uppingham for the Biz Club lunch at 1pm. This was via a trepidatious change of plane in Paris where she fixed the pilot with a ‘cobra’ type Tracey no-nonsense stare ordering him under pain of death not to leave without us. Charles de Gaulle airport had never seen anything like an English bloke sporting a hangover accompanied by a mad lady waving a stick from her wheelchair being pushed along by two airport staff shouting “don’t you bloody well start those engines yet!” Tracey we love and miss you! Ian Guyler


y friend Tracey with an ‘E’, that’s how I greeted her most days when we spoke. She was one of a kind, hated being the centre of anything unless it was the dance floor. She shared my love of the greatest game that is football, what she didn’t know about the sport was not worth knowing! She engaged with everyone on their level, she entertained lavishly and gave her time and energy generously without giving away the pain she was feeling with her illnesses. I also got to know the vulnerable, insecure side of her that longed for nothing more than being surrounded by like minded loved ones. She has left a massive void and will be forever in our hearts. I feel so lucky to have a friend called Tracey with an ‘E’. Harinder Sahota

first met Tracey though her gorgeous husband Pete, back in Pete’s Powrie Appleby days. Tracey made an instant impression, as she does with everyone who has had the pleasure of meeting her! From this, both Pete and Tracey became firm supporters of Charity Link’s ‘A Bellyful of Laughs’ Leicester Comedy Festival night from 2012. Tracey would bring a table of friends and always took up the prime position at the front ready to heckle the comedians each year. (may I add that she was always the first to book tickets and always the last to leave on the night!). We worked together and planned our charity events for the comedy festival each year, discussing ideas over many very enjoyable lunch dates whilst checking out potential venues. I will truly miss our conversations setting the world to rights, chatting about our shared love of Star Wars, amongst so many other things – of course these conversations always started off with just a quick call about… Tracey was an inspirational lady, a champion of Leicester and a champion of all of the amazing local charities supporting the community. Tracey’s legacy will most certainly live on. With love, Susie at Charity Link.


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