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The Sheffield College’s Rachel Topliss shares how employer academies are building the future workforce – and keeping the city ahead of the curve on a national scale


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INSIDE... 6-9: News A round-up of news in the region, including award wins, free virtual workshops, and property news from Auction House, Redbrik, and My Landlord Cares. 10-11: Appointments All the latest appointments from around the Sheffield City Region. 24-25: Skills Focus The Source Skills Academy on the city trailblazers seeking raw talent for success. 37: Sheffield Chamber A sneak peek at the forthcoming collaborative ‘Chamber Hubs’. 38-39: Transport SYPTE ask if homeworking will play a big part after COVID. 41: Launchpad White Rose Tuition praise the ‘fantastic support’ from Launchpad.

43: Urban Splash The team on the commercial store opening at the development. 45: Barnsley College Barnsley College discuss mentoring the next generation.

EVERYTHING ELSE: 13: The Diary 14-15: Financial Health 16-17: Entrepreneur Support 19: Legal Matters 21: Evolving Technology 23: Securing Your Assets 29: IT & Cyber Security 62: Charity



ONE – SHARED – VISION “It was a business friendship straight away.” That’s how this month’s cover star Rachel Topliss, head of employer academy partnerships and work-related activity at Sheffield College, describes her introduction into the Sheffield City Region business community when she began establishing and growing the College’s employer skills academies brand. And Rachel’s shared vision with Sheffield Chamber of Commerce then President Steve Manley led to the creation of the college’s Business and Enterprise Academy – one of the employer-led academies that are now putting the college and the city ahead of the curve nationally. Three years ahead, as Rachel estimates. But this success is in no small part down to being ‘driven’ by local employers and entrepreneurs, as Rachel explains, and those strong business friendships. Read all about how former unLTD cover stars City Taxis’ Arnie Singh and Sheffield Chamber and Benchmark’s Louisa Harrison-Walker among many other leading employers are helping Rachel and the college boost the academy brand in our cover story from page 30. There’s more about building the future workforce from our columnist Helen Williams of Helping Entrepreneurs Win, too – check out her feature from page 16. And there’s another familiar unLTD face opening this month’s If You Ask Me – our very own head of sales Dan Laver who kicks off (almost literally!) our feature on how Zoom, Teams, Hangouts and FaceTime are helping keep business friendships across the community going. While Dan has a little rant – sorry Dan! We mean, of course, ‘explains why he resents the online platforms!’ – there will be many who agree, even with the cautious roadmap out of lockdown announced by the Government last month. Networking events were very much Dan’s ‘bread and butter’ … and, frankly, he misses meeting up ‘IRL’ for bacon butties. But guest contributors including organisations like And Other Stories and Social Good Sheffield also acknowledge how technology has enabled businesses not just to communicate but discover new ways of working that are here to stay. Read more from page 48.

UNLTD BUSINESS UNLTDBUSINESS EDITORIAL Richard Fidler richard@unltdbusiness.com Jill Theobald editorial@unltdbusiness.com General hello@unltdbusiness.com 0114 252 7781 ADVERTISING Dan Laver dan@unltdbusiness.com 07867 313995 Phil Turner phil@unltdbusiness.com 07979 498034 General advertising@unltdbusiness.com FINANCE Michael Johnson accounts@exposedmagazine.co.uk DESIGN Simon Waller, Simon Garlick and James Martin CONTRIBUTORS Matthew Ainscough Marc Barker Chris Coates Jo Davison Mike Durham Matt Holmes Sam Leeder

James Marriott Bronte Saulle Raj Shah Ian Snow Helen Williams Ash Young

unLTD is published monthly by Blind Mice Media Ltd Unit 1B Rialto, 2 Kelham Island Sq., Kelham Riverside, Sheffield S3 8SD and HRM PR | Creative Unit 1A Speedwell Works, Sidney Street, Sheffield S1 4RG The views contained herein are not necessarily those of Blind Mice Media Ltd and HRM and while every effort is made to ensure information throughout unLTD is correct, changes prior to distribution may take place which can affect the accuracy of copy, therefore Blind Mice Media Ltd and HRM cannot take responsibility for contributors’ views or specific listings.



BUSINESSMAN DONATES £11K TO ASHGATE HOSPICECARE AFTER MAKING £1M FROM LOCKDOWN START-UP Blades partner with iconic sports brand Sheffield United have partnered with iconic sports and lifestyle brand New Era to launch a bespoke selection of headwear for Blades fans. Launched in America back in 1920, the brand has become the market leader in sports headwear for teams across the NFL, NBA and is now progressing partnerships across the Premier League. The range will see a selection of caps and knits that feature New Era’s iconic 9FORTY and 9FIFTY fits, and the colourways incorporate traditional Club tones, plus nods to iconic strips. The drop is exclusive to SUFC Direct – The Official Online Shop of Sheffield United Football Club. The Club’s head of commercial Paul Reeves said: “To work with a popular brand such as New Era is another positive step forward for our retail operation. “We have worked hard over the last 18 months to develop our retail offer and bring new ranges and fashion that can be worn with pride both inside and outside of Bramall Lane. “This is the first of an exclusive headwear selection and we look forward to seeing future collaborations in store.”


Chesterfield man Ash Young, who launched CarMats. co.uk during lockdown, has raised over £11k for Ashgate Hospicecare. Alongside home-schooling his two kids during lockdown and running digital agency Evoluted day-to-day, Ash decided to start a new venture, launching his own ecommerce site with a target of reaching £1 million within the first 12 months. Ash took CarMats.co.uk from strength to strength, and in January, just nine months after launching, hit the £1 million mark. To mark the occasion, he decided to donate the entire revenue (not profit) from the day of reaching £1m, to local charity Ashgate Hospicecare. Ash said: “Ashgate Hospicecare was the natural choice. They are just up the road from where I live and they do amazing work. A large part of their income comes from the various events they run through the year that we love attending, such as the open-air cinema and summer fair which they haven’t been able to run this year. So we wanted to take this opportunity to support them and give back.”


On the day of reaching £1m, CarMats.co.uk received


Peter Stone, director of income generation at Ashgate Hospicecare, said: “We are absolutely astounded by the generosity of Ash and his new business venture and I would like to thank him on

behalf of everyone at Ashgate Hospicecare. “Right now, the demand for our specialist end-of-life care has never been greater, as we work with our NHS colleagues to ease the burden on the wider health system by freeing up beds in Chesterfield Royal Hospital and caring for patients in our specialist inpatient unit instead.” Read all about Ash’s e-commerce journey in unLTD – https://unltdbusiness.com/ on-the-road-to-e-commerce/ Read Ash’s latest column for unLTD on page 21.

FREE VIRTUAL WORKSHOPS FOR BUSINESSES HR & EMPLOYMENT LAW IN THE COVID WORLD Award-winning local law firm Bhayani HR & Employment Law is offering free virtual workshops to businesses and charities on COVID-19 related HR and employment issues. COVID-related enquiries, such as “Do I have to send a new letter every time hours of work change when I have an employee on flexible furlough?”,

“Can I force my employees to have the vaccine?”, and “What do I do if an employee wants to continue working from home?” are just a few the team has handled which can be covered in the sessions. MD Jay Bhayani says: “Businesses are certainly recognising the value of our cost-effective, fixed-fee HR

and employment service, Watertight. In fact, the package is so popular at the moment, take-up has grown by 93 per cent in the last 12 months!” To access the HR and employment law in the COVID world sessions, or find out about Watertight contact Bhayani Law on 0114 303 2300 or email hello@bhayanilaw.co.uk.



NO RUM DEAL FOR SHEFFIELD CHARITY THANKS TO LOCAL DRINKS BRAND Sheffield independent rum makers O’Haras Spiced Rum have launched a new limited-edition bottle of their signature blend and they’re using proceeds to help a well-known charity delivering palliative care in Sheffield. The new bottles, which feature exclusive artwork by another Sheffield favourite, artist BUBBA 2000, are available to purchase online now for £40, with £10 from every bottle going straight to St Luke’s Hospice charity. Founder Andy O’Hara said: “We reached out to our friend BUBBA 2000 for a piece of artwork that would excite people to want to purchase not only the rum, but a limitededition piece of art from a local artist. “We also knew other businesses and charities were struggling through the lockdown, so we thought if we could charge a little more for the limited-edition bottle, this

could be a great opportunity to get a charity involved and to help as many people as we can. “We are a small Sheffield brand, so we wanted to help a local charity. Cancer has in one way or another affected most people, and palliative care for cancer sufferers is so important.”

The new bottles are available to purchase online now for £40, with

going to straight to St Luke’s

GRIPPLE CROWNED MANUFACTURER OF THE YEAR IN MAKE UK MANUFACTURING AWARDS Gripple, manufacturer of suspension systems for construction and wire tensioning systems for agriculture, has come top of the class in the national 2020 Make UK Manufacturing Awards, crowned as Manufacturer of the Year, winning two other categories, and one apprentice receiving a regional award. In the top award, employeeowned Gripple was judged to have blazed a trail within the manufacturing sector, for leading by example and developing progressive best


21-year-old Gripple apprentince Estelle Smith won



practice for others in the industry. Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, said: “Gripple has been an exemplar company for many years and these awards are a testament to the people, innovation, drive and dynamic performance to which all

manufacturers should aspire.” Gripple won the Developing Future Talent category, the Business Growth and Strategy category, and 21-year-old Gripple apprentice Estelle Smith won Business Apprentice of the Year for the North East, Yorkshire and Humber region. MD Ed Stubbs said: “This recognition is absolute testimony to how our employee owners have gone above and beyond to support their business in such a challenging year. Thank you to them all.”

Re-accreditation marks out Sheffield Business School Four degree programmes led by Sheffield Business School have been re-accredited by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) – a globally recognised benchmark for the quality of teaching and learning.

Wentworth Woodhouse gardeners make great tracks thanks to TC Harrison JCB Sheffield JCB dealer TC Harrison gave ‘tonnes’ of support to help Wentworth Woodhouse get gardens ready for its snowdrop walks.

Phase two starts on £5.25m Barnsley business park Developer Carnell Management Services (CMS) has embarked on a second £5.25m phase at the Nexus Business Park at Capitol Park, Dodworth.

Research trial of ‘smart’ hand sanitisers to help office hygiene 'Smart' hand sanitisers are being trialled across the country, as part of research by the Universities of Sheffield and Leeds into how best to engage people with the latest COVID-19 workplace hand hygiene guidance.



MAJOR FUNDING ‘MORALE BOOST’ FOR UNIQUE SOCIAL ENTERPRISE Funds donated to Horizon Community College as part of The Glass Works Henry Boot Construction Limited recently donated £1,000 to Horizon Community College, as part of Barnsley town centre’s urban development project, The Glass Works. The donation has enabled Horizon Community College to support families by providing emergency food parcels in the local area. The latest contribution follows a donation of £1,000 to a steering group in Barnsley for young care leavers, and donations of £500 to TADS and Beacon South Yorkshire, chosen charities of the Mayor of Barnsley. Social value was designated as an ‘integral part’ of The Glass Works project before work started in 2016. Charities and community groups are among the many organisations to have been supported by the firm and its project partners as part of the scheme, with the second phase due to be completed in summer 2021. Ryan O’Loughlin, Director of Henry Boot Construction, said: “We’re committed to supporting local schools and families in the area, especially during a time which is challenging for many. “We set out at the very start of this project to integrate social value into the development of The Glass Works to ensure that it leaves a lasting legacy, and benefits people across the region for years to come.”


A Sheffield-based social enterprise, café and restaurant, which offers employment opportunities to some of the city’s most vulnerable and marginalised adults, has received a near £40,000 funding grant. Blend Kitchen, which is due to open a new state-of-the-art dining space and training facility in the spring, was selected as one of 120 social entrepreneurs in England to receive support from the Inclusive Recovery Fund. The fund is a partnership between unLTD, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, and Comic Relief , enabling social enterprises to ‘deliver important services’ while ‘adapting to the challenges presented by the coronavirus crisis’. It was supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport as part of the Government's £750 million support package for charities. The £38,000 received by Blend Kitchen will enable the organisation’s core staff to be brought off the UK



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organisations who applied to the scheme were successful

Government’s furlough scheme and paid in full, while also providing a resource to start training. It will allow Blend Kitchen to support local communities throughout the current

lockdown, including expanding its important community activities such as providing free meals to disadvantaged children along with a number of online life coaching and hospitality training programmes for people who are looking for work. Founder Chris Hanson said: “This funding is a huge boost and will mean that we can continue to support our team, as well as expand our capacity to support others. “It’s a real morale boost for us all and highlights the value of the work that we do.”

BHP LLP recognised for ‘outstanding’ levels of employee engagement BHP LLP, the largest independent firm of chartered accountants in Yorkshire and North Derbyshire, has been recognised as a well led and well managed organisation demonstrating ‘outstanding’ levels of employee engagement, despite the current unprecedented circumstances. The organisation has been certified by Best Companies and recognised for its commitment to employees, with a 2-star accreditation rating. The accolade reflects the commitment BHP showed to

BHP has been awarded a

2-STAR accreditation rating

employees from the start of the pandemic, where they rolled out initiatives such as firm-wide webinars to provide updates on areas including financial information, remote working and the reopening of offices.

Lisa Leighton, joint managing partner, said: “We are delighted to have maintained our 2-star accreditation from Best Companies. The accreditation is a true testament to the way everyone at BHP has adapted and supported each other… to once again demonstrate an ‘outstanding’ level of engagement.” Jonathan Austin, founder and CEO of Best Companies, said: “BHP LLP’s fantastic achievement demonstrates that they have been well led and well managed during these most testing of times.”





Research by Auction House shows that the speed of the process is a major consideration for both buyers and sellers.

James Holding, regional auctions manager at Auction House South Yorkshire, said: “While buyers are capitalising on the government Stamp

Duty Holiday, auctions are now the only remaining method available to ensure buyers benefit from the temporary tax break before it expires on 31 March. “The lead time between entering and exchanging contracts is now down to just three weeks at auction, compared to what can be longer than three months by private treaty. That’s a major attraction to vendors who are in a hurry or want to select the specific date on which they sell.” The widening appeal of auction is confirmed by the number of big-ticket lots entered into Auction House sales in February, many guided at £1m or more. James added: “Auction is no longer the sole reserve of properties from the bargainbasement. Similarly, the wide range of lots available demonstrates the sheer variety of what can be bought and sold under the hammer.”

New not-for-profit letting agent launches A new start-up My Landlord Cares (MLC) has been launched as a social letting agency operating in Sheffield and Rotherham. MLC is the ‘dream’ of its founders, who have been private landlords for around 20 years and whose own frustrations and personal challenges around issues including changes, laws, and tenants’ rights kick-started the journey. The organisation operates as a social enterprise which means all profits get put back into the community. One of the co-founders Badrul Haque said: “For too long landlords have had so much bad press, we are seen as



greedy and selfish. We wanted to change this. “We wanted to support landlords who are like us, to help them understand these changes and not fall into the wrong side of the law by not complying with these changes. “Our tenants are well looked

after in all the properties we manage – 70 per cent of our tenants refer our next clients to us. This says a lot about the support we provide. In this way, landlords can be confident that they will receive regular rent and know they are getting more from their investments.”

Iconic tower regeneration project set to receive the green light for 103 apartments Hallam Towers is expected to receive further planning permission to create an additional two floors inside the new 15-storey tower at the iconic site on Fulwood Road in Sheffield. This will take the total number of one, two and three-bedroom apartments up to 103, complete with unrivalled views across the city and a swimming pool and gym on the ground floor level. Sheffield City Council is expected to approve the additional two floors, set to transform the former Hallam Towers hotel into a rare collection of apartments and penthouses. Redbrik, appointed as the sales agent for this landmark new development, already has over 75 people on a waiting list as it edges closer to launch. Peter Lee, a director for the firm, explained: "The development is being sympathetically restored back to its recognisable form, using the latest materials and technology that the construction industry has to offer. "There is a huge demand for high-quality homes in South West Sheffield, and we're thrilled to see it being filled by a regeneration project such as Hallam Towers." Earlier this year, Redbrik Land & New Homes became part of the Land & New Homes Network. The network's national coverage means Redbrik have relationships with builders, developers, investors and non-competing estate agents from across the UK.


AGENDA APPOINTMENTS Four new senior appointments for CC33 South Yorkshire contact centre CC33 has announced the appointment of four senior management team members as part of its latest recruitment drive. Joey Abubaker joins as operational lead where he will be leading a brand-new campaign, defining scope and developing customer and client relationships with defined strategies. Hayden Hale takes up the role of training manager following more than 18 years in learning and development in both the private and public sectors. Chris Wicks has been appointed operations manager and will oversee the coaching and development arm of the business to help drive commercial performance and ensure high engagement within both teams and clients. Joining the Rotherham office is Michael Mehtar as head of outbound sales. Michael joins CC33 following a five-year stint as an operations director in Dubai and will develop existing outbound accounts where he will help them to grow with CC33 and ensure the clients are maximising the firm’s service offering. Paul Fletcher, MD at CC33, said: “It is fantastic to be able to welcome our latest recruits to the CC33 family. “Each appointment brings with them a wealth of experience which will add a huge amount of value to the business. We can’t wait to see how their fresh ideas facilitate our growth plans throughout 2021.” CC33 are currently undergoing a period of rapid growth, recently creating 400 jobs across their two offices – one on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield and the other on Mansfield Road in Rotherham.




Jiraffe, the UK distribution division of postural support specialists Jenx, has gained almost 25 years of industry experience with the recruitment of Craig Ward as product advisor.

Craig officially joined Jiraffe this February, after choosing to leave his role as a trusted assessor and manager for a night time positioning company specialising in dementia care

and progressive illnesses for adults to pursue his strong passion for working in paediatrics. Before that, Craig had spent around 21 years working for an international postural support specialist in various roles. Craig said: “I’d always had a yearning to work for Jenx and Jiraffe as I’m familiar with the company’s founders Clive and Catherine, and have got to know many of their sales staff in a friendly capacity over the years, so I know what a good company it is.” Holly Jenkins, director at Jiraffe, said: “Craig has been a well-known name across our industry for many years now, and we’re delighted he’s bringing his enormous breadth of skills and experience into the Jiraffe family.”

Wake Smith welcomes three new appointments Sheffield law firm Wake Smith Solicitors has added three new hires to its growing team of legal experts. Associate Colleen Dooney joins the seven-strong private client team, paralegal Dylan Friend brings his skills to the clinical negligence department, while residential and commercial property paralegal Sam Brightman starts in the firm’s busy property department. Colleen joins from a niche private client practice in Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University law graduate Dylan Friend from a year long position at a local firm, while Sam Brightman, who

also graduated from Hallam with a law degree, joins after spending two years as a real estate paralegal. Head of private client Suzanne Porter said: “The

appointments will further enhance the services we already provide to our individual and business clients across South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire.”



TRAVELSOUTHYORKSHIRE.COM/BUSINESS Moto-Trek appoints managing director

BUSINESS REPRESENTATION STRENGTHENED AS SHEFFIELD CHAMBER WELCOMES NEW NONEXECUTIVE DIRECTORS TO ITS BOARD After a rigorous recruitment process, five new nonexecutive directors (NED) will be joining Sheffield Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors this month. Working alongside existing board members, these new business leaders will drive forward the new vision for Sheffield Chamber and ensure it becomes more representative of the diversity of Sheffield’s business community. Representing the city’s digital sector, the Chamber welcomes Emma Marshall, operations director of 3Squared Ltd and Dan Kirkland, co-founder and director of Tribepad. The Chamber also welcomes James Berry, partner at Freeths LLP and Martin McKervey, director of AESSEAL plc and Vulcan Engineering Ltd. In addition, the Chamber will welcome Faaiza Ramji,


principal of OnPurpose, a marketing strategy firm based in Edmonton, Canada. Faaiza is understood to be Sheffield Chamber’s first NED from overseas in the organisation’s 164-year-old history. James Needham, nonexecutive director and board chair, said: “The high standard of all of the applicants was yet more evidence of the depth and breadth of talent in our city across a variety of sectors and industries. “The whole recruitment process has only added to our resolve to drive the Chamber forward and represent our members and the region to the best of our ability. We are fortunate that every one of the new NEDs will improve and challenge the existing board and we cannot wait to welcome our new colleagues.” Matt Jackson Sheffield Chamber president said: “We

look forward to welcoming our new Non-Executive Directors. The selection process has been thorough and rigorous to ensure we change the dynamic of the board as we turn the Chamber of the Future into a reality.” Louisa Harrison-Walker, Sheffield Chamber interim executive director, said: “The Chamber has had some great business leaders sit on its board over the years. We thank them for their commitment, particularly Steve Manley from Universal Office Supplies, and a past president, and Ian Brown from Wosskow Brown, who both made a decision to step down late last year. “As the Chamber continues to grow and think differently, the recruitment of our new board members is a key milestone as we look to build the strongest Chamber of Commerce in the UK.”

Mark Cartwright, former managing director of Cartwright Group, has been appointed as managing director of Moto-Trek which is part of the Trek Group companies with headquarters in Sheffield. Mark will report to Tom Janion, CEO of Trek Group which also has in its portfolio companies such as EquiTrek, the largest horsebox and trailer manufacturer in the UK, and Cartwright Vehicle Conversions which is a specialist ambulance, security and welfare vehicle converter.


“As we continue to invest in talent and the growth of the Trek Group of companies, we are excited to welcome Mark to Moto-Trek,” Tom said. “Mark’s impressive background and industry expertise will help bolster our motorhome operations as we focus on developing the business which has seen demand increase significantly since the start of the pandemic.” Said Mark: “I’m thrilled to have been appointed as Moto-Trek’s managing director. We have exciting and ambitious plans in place for the coming few years and I look forward to driving growth in the leisure vehicle market.” Mark brings with him to his new role more than 25 years of experience in the manufacturing, logistics and automotive industries.



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Our editor is optimistic about the ‘realistic’ roadmap announcement

HERE COMES THE SUN…? Just in case you’re reading this with rain battering the windows and the heating fully on, it was written as the sun shone through into my living room. Not that you need sunshine to be positive, of course, but there’s definitely a feeling around that things are on the up following the announcement of the roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions. Looking back to the start of the year – unless your business practices were pretty much untouched by the lockdown – then January was an horrific month to deal with. The immediate lockdown and closure of schools, just one day into the new year, ended any early optimism that 2021 would get off to a flying start.

It seemed as though everyone you spoke to was going through a tough time with no real end in sight. We knew we’d eventually come out of it but it’s the not knowing which makes life difficult, especially when having to reassure children. And the backdrop to it all was an immense amount of suffering. This second wave seems to have hit many far closer to home than the first. However, February came around and with the huge success of the vaccination rollout we could at last begin to look forward. I don’t know about you, but I think the February weather helped with people’s spirits, too. Either bloody freezing with a decent amount of snow,

or nice crisp sunny days. At least you know where you are with weather like that, not the 31 days of cold mizzle we seemed to have in January. So here we are in March. Who’d have thought 12 months ago that we’d go through what we have done? Lives put on hold, businesses ruined, education as we know it all but shut down and the severest ever restrictions put on our freedom. And yet we battle on in hope that what the government has planned will happen. I’m naturally untrustworthy of politicians and their pronouncements, but what has been laid out seems, to me at least, to be realistic. Yes, it would be nice to

throw everything open straightaway, but the staggered timeframe at least provides the opportunity to go nice and steady. I also think there will be a period of readjustment for people as we get acclimatised to just how busy life used to be with the myriad of options available to us in a ‘normal’ world. Hopefully this will be the last edition of unLTD that is only produced digitally. It would be lovely to see hard copies of the magazine in businesses, cafes and bars across South Yorkshire this spring and summer. For that to happen we’ll have to wait just a little while longer – but with sunny days ahead it’ll be worth it.

Got views of your own? Let me know: richard@unltdbusiness.com LinkedIn: Richard Fidler





BY RAJ SHAH, DIRECTOR AND PRINCIPAL OF BLUE WEALTH CAPITAL The financial planner on the differences between the stock market and the economy


This month I am still banging my ‘optimism is the only realism’ drum – despite the gloomy headlines that screamed out at me from the weekend papers: ‘Economy’s 10% fall was worst for three centuries.’ The ‘Great Lockdown’ slump earns its place in the history books.’ ‘Deepest recession for 300 years.’ And yet, often in the same paper, one can read what seems to be the opposite, such as: ‘Optimistic investors pile into equities.’ ‘House prices surge.’ ‘Markets reach record highs.’ Unless you know the difference between the economy and the stock market, you’d be forgiven for feeling rather confused.


WHAT TO BELIEVE? When we think of financial health, a few things might come to mind. We may think of our own financial status, our investments, the ‘market’, the economy, the country’s employment status and so on. While some aspects may be interrelated on some level, they are not all one and the same, nor do they all indicate the status of one another. The various ways in which we characterise financial wellbeing might explain why so many people think of the stock market and the health of the economy as a gauge for each other. However, the stock market does not define economic health as a whole. As we’ve seen during the recent pandemic, equities are back on the rise, but many individuals

– and the country as a whole – are still facing the effects of business closures, recordbreaking unemployment rates and more. So why is this? Below, I outline the major differences between the stock market and the economy and why one can progress while the other tells a different story.

WHAT IS THE ‘ECONOMY’? The economy can be defined as “the wealth and resources of a country or region, especially in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services.” 1 As a result, understanding the health of the economy can be thought of in terms of the growth rate of real GDP, meaning whether or not the production of goods and services is increasing or decreasing.2

WHAT IS THE ‘STOCK MARKET’? The stock market can be defined simply as “a stock exchange.”3 It is the buying and selling of ownership shares in a corporation.4 The stock market is comprised, therefore, of the buyers and sellers (with some buyers and sellers holding more ‘stock’ or ‘equities’ than others) and is not necessarily indicative of every business, worker, and family.

THE STOCK MARKET VERSUS THE ECONOMY The stock market and the economy can display very different pictures of what we might call ‘progress’. With regards to the stock market,


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a collection of 500 of the world’s biggest and best financed companies (the S&P 500) surged since the market downturn in March.5 On the other hand, GDP in that market decreased by five percent in 2020’s first quarter, and as of June 2020, the number of unemployed individuals rose to 12 million since February. 6,7 There are many reasons for this apparent disconnect between the markets and the economy and yet this does not stop the financial media constantly agonising over every slight movement up or down in dozens of economic indicators from new home sales to the balance of payments, and from manufacturing capacity utilisation to the producer price index. We are drawn to negative headlines and – as some would say – the role of the media is to keep us in a sustained level of anxiety. As anyone who has been around economics for any length of time will agree, the waxing and waning of


the economy defy consistent anticipation. This is equally true whether the drama is for good or ill: economists missed the productivity gains from the rise of the Internet as completely as they did the looming sub-prime mortgage crisis. But I think the bigger truth is that some wealth managers/ economists labour under the delusion that if they can somehow predict what the economy is going to do next, they can then proceed to anticipate how the markets will respond. They study the economy, in other words, not as a matter of interest for its own sake but as a predictor of markets. This is one of those rare ideas in finance where both the premise and the conclusion are wrong for reasons entirely independent of one another. The premise is “If we can figure out what the economy is going to do next, we can predict what the market will do.” We can't—no one consistently can. We don’t have a crystal ball!

If you (or worse still your advisor/wealth manager) do not understand the disconnect, the response to any forecast of an agonisingly slow economic recovery is likely to be “I'm not going to invest until the economy gives me much more positive signals.” And if those signals are not forthcoming, in all likelihood, uninvested is where you will stay. The truth is, if you are waiting for the government to confirm to you that a recession is over, you've probably already missed the market. After the sudden downturn in March last year, equity prices went up in response to the same forces which have always driven them: optimism. Looking back on this historic (and record-breaking) upsurge, we see above all that equities rose not in response to the economy but in spite of it. Thankfully, our clients are long-term, goal-focused, patient, and disciplined investors who we have coached over time to tune out the meanderings of the economy. In fact, with our

help and advanced skills in behavioural coaching, they have learned to tune all current events out. If you would like to learn more about our approach, please contact us for a no obligation chat. (1.) https://www.lexico.com/en/ definition/economy (2.) https://www.imf.org/ external/pubs/ft/fandd/ basics/gdp.htm (3.) https://www.lexico.com/en/ definition/stock_market (4.) https://www.econlib.org/ library/Columns/y2010/ Murphystockmarket.html (5.) https://www.marketwatch. com/story/its-been-100days-since-coronavirussent-the-stock-market-torock-bottom-heres-whatcomes-next-after-its-bestrally-over-that-period-in-80years-2020-07-01 (6.) https://www.bea.gov/data/ gdp/gross-domestic-product (7.) https://www.bls.gov/news. release/pdf/empsit.pdf




Our columnist Helen Williams of Helping Entrepreneurs Win (HEW) shares how getting involved in The Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Business and Enterprise Academy at The Sheffield College is helping ‘build the future of business, employment and entrepreneurship’, thanks to HEW as a source of learning, work experience and personal growth THE SHEFFIELD COLLEGE Helen was first introduced to The Sheffield College by Steve Manley when he was in term as President of The Sheffield Chamber of Commerce where he opened the Business and Enterprise Academy. It was through this connection that Helen and Rachel Topliss, head of employer academy partnerships, and work-related activity, met and hit it off instantaneously.

The alignment for involvement and the ability to add value was most certainly there and the rest, as they say, is history. During this time Helen, and then later joined by business partner Lauren Brady, has delivered a number of workshops and speaking presentations to the college. What started off in person amongst the hustle and bustle of the campuses at both City and Hillsborough was taken swiftly online to enable crucial delivery and learning support

whilst students navigated their studies through the online world, rather than within their usual environment of world class facilities. Looking through the eyes of the student is something easily relatable for Helen and Lauren as they both have had experience with higher and further education. Helen studied at University for a degree and a Masters and Lauren left after her first year to start in a self-employed role. Both paths, combined with the day-to-day

involvement in personal development, mindset and business application proves to be a realistic and profound approach that students and staff alike, take a lot of value from. The key areas of focus and delivery from HEW that support student learning have been around confidence, resilience and self-belief. All of these are fundamental attributes and life skills required as a core foundation – regardless of whether the path leads to an

For more info on how coaching with HEW can help you and your business please visit




entrepreneurial destination or not. Transferable skills and personal growth for students are a huge area to nurture for Helen and Lauren, as they know the pitfalls at this stage in life. Along with the professional services of HEW, they can help build the future of business, employment and entrepreneurship by providing this source of learning alongside academic studies. Education and employability are intrinsically linked, and The Sheffield College are miles ahead at getting this right with their wrap-around services, the numerous on-site academies and the creative partnerships formed that allow for a complete experience for students, not only for their time at the college but when they enter the workplace. An exciting bridge for this very experience has been built between HEW and the college. A newly formed project team consisting of three students

now line up alongside Helen and Lauren for a bespoke opportunity of work experience and personal growth. The new project team, a combination of Journalism, Business and IT students, entered a formal application and interview process. The selected candidates are an integral part of helping drive forward the business’s online strategy, with numerous opportunities for them to be involved in social media creation, website development, content writing, project management and video and podcast editing. Naturally, the students are also now under the wing of two extremely passionate coaches whose daily responsibility is to help build confidence and personal accountability, as well as to allow foresight around the dynamics of teamwork in order to deliver on overarching strategic requirements.

A FEW WORDS FROM RACHEL: “On my first meeting with Helen, it was evident straight away that she had the drive and passion about the development of young people that I was looking for out in industry. The first workshop Helen delivered for me saw more than 100 students requesting a limited seat in the audience. “The workshop was so popular that Helen came back shortly after to deliver again where we were able to include our staff. Students stop me on campus regularly to ask me when HEW are coming back, which is exactly the kind of student curiosity, buzz and energy I set out to create on campus when creating the Employer Skills Academy brand. “HEW have given their time and expertise and have worked closely

with my team over the past 12 months to enable me to trial new initiatives in a supportive business environment. “Helen and Lauren have more recently been an integral part of the creation and implementation of our ‘Sheffcol Business Support Team’ soon to be launched in the city. “I am so grateful for HEWs continued and consistent support. It’s so crucial for me that we work in partnership with our employers in this way particularly in times where we need the freedom to not only be creative and take risks but also to allow for trial and error.” For more info on how coaching with HEW can help you and your business please visit www.helping entrepreneurswin.com or email helen@helping entrepreneurswin.com

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BY MATTHEW AINSCOUGH, BELL & BUXTON SOLICITORS INCORPORATING IRONMONGER CURTIS The senior employment lawyer on harassment in the online or remote workplace

WORKPLACE TRAINING ON HARASSMENT MUST BE ‘MORE THAN TICK-BOX EXERCISE’ Even though the majority of employees are working from home at present, workplace harassment could still take place. Indeed, there has been recent reports in the media that harassment has actually increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, and instead of taking place in the office, it is now taking place online or remotely. In harassment cases, an employer can potentially defend such a claim if it can show that it took all reasonable steps to prevent the harassment or discrimination from taking place. Providing training to staff on preventing discrimination and harassment is one way in which employers can show that they took ‘all reasonable steps’. However, in a recent case before it (Allay v Gehlen) the


Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled that if the training has not been updated and has been allowed to become “stale”, then the employer cannot rely on the defence. In this case, the EAT found that the training had been conducted about one year and eight months before the employee began his employment and two years and eight months before his dismissal. The EAT decided that whatever training had taken place was no longer effective and there was nothing in the case which suggested that further training of a good standard would not have had a good chance of preventing the harassment. The EAT emphasised that an employer seeking to rely on the defence that it has taken all reasonable steps to prevent

harassment or discrimination has to cross a high threshold. It is generally accepted that having equal opportunity policies and procedures is not enough for an employer to escape liability for acts of discrimination carried out by its employees. The EAT emphasises that the mere fact of having training on those policies and procedures is also insufficient. The quality of the training is relevant, so brief and cursory training is unlikely to have much of an impact. It is also clear that if an employer believes employees might have forgotten the training, it should be refreshed. In summary, employers should be encouraged to ensure that workplace training on discrimination is substantial in nature, is more than just a ‘tickbox’ exercise, and it is conducted

regularly (perhaps once a year, if not more frequently) to avoid it becoming ‘stale’. Employers should also consider whether there are other ways of promoting a diversity and equality at work, such as through policies and procedures, initiatives, communication strategies, and making it easier for victims of harassment to come forward. Aside from avoiding legal liability, an employer that takes harassment and discrimination seriously is likely to inspire a happier, more diverse, and more secure workforce. If any employers would like any equality and discrimination policies or advice on delivering training, please get in touch with Matthew Ainscough at m.ainscough@bellbuxton. co.uk.



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4 WAYS LOCAL BUSINESSES CAN GET STARTED WITH LINK-BUILDING Local link building is the process of getting other sites to link back to your website, in a targeted local region. It’s an important factor for local search optimisation, and it’s not as scary as it seems to get started. Most importantly, don’t pay websites to add backlinks to your business (or hire an agency who uses this tactic). Google can penalise you for doing so, and there are plenty of other ways to build links naturally without paying them to do so. Leverage local relationships and get involved in the community Leverage any existing local partnerships – get in contact with local professionals that are more than likely already a brand advocate and want to support local businesses. Considering you already have a strong relationship, it’s likely


they will be eager to help you out with a natural link. The best part about these links is they’re difficult for your competition to replicate! Could you utilise any of the following existing partnerships? ⚫ Does a local company use your products or services? They may list you as a local source. ⚫ Are you a vendor? Wholesalers or manufacturers may link to you on their site as a vendor of their produce. ⚫ If you’re happy with a local business relationship, add a positive testimonial and ask for a link in this. In a post-COVID world, I’d recommend sponsoring local events in the community. Often, they have an online event page, where there’s high potential for a link.

Offer a discount Customers love a deal! You can secure some easy local links by offering a discount or special offer for those in the area. If your town or city has a high student population, perhaps offer a student discount. You could also choose to do a limited time discount for everyone in the area, or an exclusive for readers of specific local publications.

⚫ Do you have products or services that need trialling by locals? These are all things that could get news coverage in the local press, and can often lead to a natural link.

Reactive PR (Newsjacking) Monitor news about your industry (both locally and nationally), so you can spot opportunities to put you or your business in the centre Local news coverage of the conversation. When ⚫ Do you have a something newsworthy or heartwarming or incredible prominent happens, contact personal backstory about the journalists writing about how you started your this, and offer an expert, business? authoritative comment. You ⚫ Are you offering an need to be fast and useful to opportunity to locals or jump on the story, but links via can you provide anything insights and expert tips, help educational about your to build trust with Google. industry? If you need help with local ⚫ Have you helped the local SEO and link-building, community or raised contact the Evoluted team money for a local charity? today.


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Sam discusses the high-profile issue of Business Interruption Insurance

BUSINESS INTERRUPTION INSURANCE – WHAT DOES IT COVER AND DO I NEED IT? Given the impact of COVID-19 on businesses around the globe and the recent FCA test case ruling by the Supreme Court, Business Interruption Insurance (BI) has rarely been higher in the public consciousness than it is now. It is therefore worth considering for a moment, what a BI policy covers and whether your business should be buying it. In its most basic form, the intention of the BI policy is to replace the lost profit or turnover following an insured loss at the business premises. If a business suffers from a fire or flood or other insured event at their premises, which causes a loss of turnover and/ or an increase in costs, the policy will aim to replace that lost income.


In addition to this core cover, the policy also has a wide range of add-on extensions, which can include things like denial of access, interruption to your services such as gas or electricity and even infectious diseases, which has obviously been at the centre of the current FCA test case. These extensions to cover are automatically thrown in and the cover they provide can vary significantly from one insurer to another based on slight differences in policy wordings – which has obviously caused much confusion to policyholders during the current pandemic. So, having said all of the above, does your business need BI cover? The short answer to this is

if your business is dependent upon your premises and would suffer a loss of turnover without it, the answer is yes. Imagine a manufacturing business with specialist machinery, or a hotel for instance. A significant fire or flood at a business like that would most probably shut them down completely for a period while they rebuild – without BI cover those businesses would most likely go bust. If, however, your business can carry on through home working or if you work at your clients’ premises – such as in contracting or construction – then the answer is you can probably live without it. Alternatively, you may be able to take out some cover which is pared right down and will

primarily cover your increased costs of working to continue your business elsewhere following a major loss. As with all business insurance issues, the key thing is to discuss your business and its requirements in depth with your broker to ensure that the cover you are buying is fit for purpose and that you fully understand what you are buying and why. If you’d like any further information regarding Business Interruption or any other insurance matters please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Sam Leeder ACII Actus Insurance samleeder@ actusinsurance.co.uk 0114 2903624 07718 189476





CITY TRAILBLAZERS SEEKING RAW TALENT TO FUEL DRIVE FOR SUCCESS Three tech-powered Sheffield trailblazers are among the businesses working with The Source Skills Academy to recruit potential new talent via Kickstart. City, one of the country’s most successful taxi firms, its app-fuelled delivery business City Grab and sister tech company Caboodleit are giving six unemployed young people the chance to get ‘a foot in the door’ with the government’s new work experience scheme. If they show the right potential during their sixmonth placements, permanent careers will be on offer. Kickstart aims to get jobless 16-24-years old receiving Universal Credit on the road to jobs. “We want to give young people having a difficult time in the pandemic the chance to make their mark with us,” said Arnie Singh, the Sheffield entrepreneur behind the three brands. Two will be recruited for City Grab, Sheffield's answer to Deliveroo. The multidelivery app platform, which charges lower commission and keeps revenue in the local economy, launched in early 2020 and rocketed as demand for takeaways soared in the pandemic. The service has now made more than 200,000 deliveries and works with 376 city outlets – from Beres the pork sandwich chain to Nonna’s. Two recruits at Caboodleit, the tech company which launched City Grab, will learn sales and project management as it sells to



taxi firms nationally and creates a ‘white label’ tech product tailored for individual food, convenience, and retail outlets. At City Taxis, two Kickstarters will learn from a vastly experienced team and get an insight into the work ethic needed for success. Mr Singh is urging other SCR businesses to embrace Kickstart. “Work experience gives young people the chance to gain experience and prove

themselves in the workplace,” he said. “As an employer, Kickstart gives six months of support as we train people and ensure they are right for us.” The government funds Kickstart placements, paying the minimum wage for 25 hours a week, N.I and pension contributions and gives businesses grants of £1,500 towards the recruit’s set up and training. Mr Singh is pledging to top up hours and wages to full-time.

Dale Robinson, director of business development at The Source, said: “We are proud to be giving our expertise to City Taxis and Caboodleit, the brains behind City Grab. “We have now helped more than 65 employers to take on 150 Kickstart recruits. “Employers who choose us as their training and employment partner can retain the Kickstart grant, while we help their young recruits gain valuable qualifications and key skills.”


SKILLS The Source Skills Academy in Sheffield is passionate about bringing out the best in people. It has been helping businesses to increase the talents of their teams since 2003 and is proud to sponsor Skills Focus, a monthly spotlight on training and apprenticeship news and funding to help you develop your staff. Contact 0114 2635600 Marketing & thesourceacademy.co.uk

Source comes to aid of the First Aiders


GALAXY REACHES FOR STAR APPRENTICES WITH THE SOURCE The Source Skills Academy is providing apprentices across the UK for a hugely successful Sheffield insulation company continuing to grow during the pandemic. Galaxy Insulation and Dry Lining Limited, a marketleading, independently-owned supplier to the construction sector, decided to launch an apprenticeship scheme to 'future-proof' the business. It discovered highperforming training and skills organisation The Source Academy was on its doorstep at Meadowhall. Five apprentices, aged 16 to 22, are now in roles across the country and studying for qualifications in customer service, warehousing and business administration. The Source is recruiting more apprentices for Galaxy and looking to provide fully-funded training and qualifications for other staff. Galaxy is also working with The Source to assist with recruiting unemployed young people for funded six-month placements under the government’s new Kickstart scheme. Turnover is now in excess of


£66million for Galaxy, which employs 220 and has continued to expand during the pandemic. New branches opened in Bedford and Newcastle in 2020 and another two are planned in the South West this year, bringing the total to 12. Galaxy started making contributions to the government’s Apprenticeship Levy in the first quarter of 2020 after its annual wages bill hit £3million. The Levy exists for employers to fund new apprenticeships in England through the Digital Apprenticeship Service. “Utilising our Levy funds to support an apprenticeship programme is a win on so many levels – we can increase staff and grow the business and, very importantly, give young people a head-start in a very difficult climate,” said Richard Walker, group operations director. “Our apprenticeship scheme also helps us to future-proof the business, ensuring the skills of highly-experienced and long-serving employees are passed on. “We are committed to ensuring apprentices can grow careers with us. Our company

ethos is: ‘It doesn’t matter where you start – if you work hard you can achieve and climb the ladder’.” Jack Robinson, 22, joined Galaxy’s Sheffield HQ in January on a Business Admin Level 3 Apprenticeship. “I was working at a COVID-19 testing centre and was worried the pandemic would stop firms from recruiting,” said Jack. “That wasn’t the case at Galaxy. I’m very pleased to be part of the team. An apprenticeship is a great opportunity to show an employer what you can do and gain a qualification while you work.” Dale Robinson, head of business development at The Source, said: “Despite the challenges of the pandemic we enabled job-seekers throughout the country to find roles at Galaxy, a Sheffieldbased success story. “We urge companies to remember that apprenticeship recruitment still plays an important part in business strategy and to contact us. Our apprenticeship success rate ranks in the top tier nationally.”

Trained First Aiders will be needed more than ever when schools and businesses reopen after lockdown. An experienced First Aid training provider, The Source Skills Academy has created a dedicated, COVID-safe Learning Zone on the ground floor of its Meadowhall Way premises and resumed its classes on March 1. Danny Slinn, employment and skills project manager said: “It is absolutely crucial for organisations to get their First Aiders trained or retrained and ensure they have the knowledge to deal with virus infection risks when people return after lockdown. “There is new COVIDrisk avoidance advice for something as simple as dealing with a minor cut to giving rescue breaths. The virus is also badly affecting people’s mental health. Training now includes instruction on how to spot the signs and give support.” Three-day First Aid At Work courses for new learners and two-day refresher courses for First Aid requalification are running every week. Courses run under tight health and safety measures. Attendees complete a health questionnaire prior to attending, temperatures are checked on arrival and social distancing is maintained throughout. Go to www. thesourceacademy.co.uk/ commercial-training/first-aid to book, or email training@ thesourceacademy.co.uk




ISN’T ALWAYS BAD NEWS Most people don’t usually look forward to seeing an insolvency practitioner – but as the team at Hart Shaw explain, their work is not all about saving failing companies A bit like going to the dentist, most people don’t usually look forward to seeing an insolvency practitioner. They assume it will be a painful experience and they will only receive bad news. Of course, this is not the reality that most people experience. No matter how bad the situation people think they are in, they often leave their first meeting with us with a clear idea of what needs to be done and feeling the weight of the world has been lifted from their shoulders. But the work we do is not all about saving failing companies. We also provide advice and help to people with successful solvent companies and one of the formal processes we offer is the Members Voluntary Liquidation. This is where we help close and liquidate a solvent company that is no longer required in order to pay its capital value to the shareholders.


A limited company exists in its own right as a legal entity independent of its shareholders and it can own businesses, property and generate wealth. During its life surplus profits can be distributed to the shareholders by the payment of dividends, such dividends being accounted for as part of the shareholders income and taxed accordingly. However, when a company comes to the end of its natural life, such as when its business has been sold and the shareholders are looking to cash in the value of their shares, it is often more appropriate, and tax efficient, for its value to be returned to its shareholders as a capital payment rather than as income by declaring a dividend. This is achieved with a Members Voluntary Liquidation which can only be carried out by a licenced insolvency practitioner. The insolvency practitioner

will work with the directors to prepare the company for liquidation so as to end up with a balance sheet that often comprises just cash at bank. The directors then make a Statutory Declaration of Solvency to confirm that the company is solvent and can pay its debts in full and the shareholders pass resolutions placing the company into liquidation. Once in liquidation, the liquidator goes through a process to establish that the company has paid all its creditors before distributing the company’s assets to the shareholders as a capital distribution. Although we often just distribute cash, it is possible to distribute assets – for example a property – direct to shareholders which is called a distribution in specie. In recent weeks we have distributed in specie three residential properties in one liquidation, a trade debtor in another and a stock market

portfolio in another. As a member’s voluntary liquidator is acting for the shareholders, (as creditors have been paid in full) he or she can, within reason, do whatever the shareholders require, so a Members Voluntary Liquidation can be very flexible. As a busy practice, we carry out Members Voluntary Liquidations throughout the year for all types of companies and businesses. However, in recent weeks we have been particularly busy with such liquidations as our clients have been keen to liquidate their companies and distribute the funds to shareholders before the Budget on 3 March, in case taxes are increased. A Members Voluntary Liquidation is a cost-effective way of closing a company that is no longer required and returning its capital to shareholders and, depending on the circumstances, can be a very flexible process.


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Ian shares the ‘precision learning’ of the CT Knowledge platform

MAJOR LESSONS FROM MICRO LEARNING PLATFORM Over the past year, nearly every business has experienced some kind of disruption to operations and, as millions of employees adjusted to working remotely, IT teams had to provide quick solutions to ensure work could carry on as normal. Businesses have been forced to deploy new tools to help teams collaborate and communicate remotely. But with unfamiliarity and lack of experience with new software, staff are being left frustrated and inevitably on the phone with IT. At CT, we offer all our customers CT Knowledge – a micro learning platform with a hundred three-minute training sessions which are easy to navigate and help your team make the most of your most important existing and new business platforms. Utilising your tech


platforms effectively and understanding simple security measures is crucial in growing and protecting your business, saving your team time and importantly developing their IT knowledge base. Our aim is simple – to help ensure your business is more secure, efficient and productive. Through what is coined ‘precision learning’, CT Knowledge gives you more than 100 three-minute engaging training sessions which aim to help your team learn new skills and how to make the most of your important business platforms including 0365, Sharepoint, Windows 10 and Excel. There are also important videos covering cyber security and mental health in the workplace. Some training sessions are even just 60 seconds long! Users can click,

swipe and tap content on their computer, laptop, tablet or phone making it easier than ever to access important IT training courses quickly and easily. So, for example, if you wanted to learn how to schedule a meeting in Teams, organise your inbox in Office 365, upload and share files with your colleagues in SharePoint or manage large amounts of data in Microsoft Excel, you can learn quickly in just three minutes without the need to ask a colleague, your in-house IT Manager or calling your service desk. Some of the key benefits include: Scalability – As best practices evolve and internal processes expand, content can be removed, updated and restructured to fit any company need.

Efficiency – Increases learner comprehension and knowledge retention through the use of mediarich learning materials and bite-sized content. Three-Minute Videos – All of the videos you will find are three minutes or under, giving you precise and bitesized information as you need it. Develop Personal Skills – There are also important bite-size training videos covering cybersecurity, management skills, and mental health training. If you would like to find out more, or have a demo of CT Knowledge, please get in touch with one of our account managers today on 01246 266 130.




Rachel Topliss, head of employer academy partnerships and work-related activity at The Sheffield College, tells Jill Theobald how her shared vision with Sheffield Chamber of Commerce then President Steve Manley of boosting the workforce of tomorrow’s employability skills led to the creation of the college’s Business and Enterprise Academy – and how the employer-led academies programme is now putting them and the city ahead of the curve nationally



COVER STORY ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it’. This mantra is one that Rachel Topliss head of employer academy partnerships, and workrelated activity at The Sheffield College, uses often during our interview – and it’s not hard to see why It played a major part in her vision for the College’s employer skills academies to inspire, encourage and support young people with the skills that businesses need by providing real-life examples of role models and successful businesspeople. And indeed, two years on from launch of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Business and Enterprise Academy at the College, that vision has become a reality. Within three months 900 students had signed up to the academy – that has since gone on to hit a milestone of 1,500. Rachel’s goal of three academies has become 15 including the Business and Enterprise Academy and


academies involving leading businesses Discovery STEM Education, Greene King, Kier Construction, Kryolan, Liberty Speciality Steels, Millgate, MSK Ingredients, NextGen Skills Academy, PJ Taste, Sheffield Sharks, Uniheads and WANdisco. The college has received Association of Colleges Beacon Awards' commended status for engagement of employers as a result of its academies. Oh, and earlier this year the Government published a Skills for Jobs White Paper which focuses on the ‘vital role of further

education (FE) colleges being at the forefront of a skills led recovery and ensuring employers are at the heart’. The Sheffield College’s academies are a forerunner – not least because the Business and Enterprise Academy was the first time a British Chamber of Commerce had worked with a further education college in this way. Rachel says they were ‘blown away’ by the White Paper and while the college was not named its recommendations for other chambers and colleges

nationwide to follow suit means ‘we have set the precedent now. It rubberstamped our ideas and our vision of what we could do to make the college special.’ Keeping The Sheffield College and the city ahead of the learning and employability curve then – especially as Rachel believes that, thanks to the academies and the support from businesses the college is now, she would estimate, three years ahead of others in the country. But she is keen to point out that it is down to her dynamic team – and the academies being ‘driven’ by a supportive Chamber and business community. “The Sheffield College feels so different to any of the other places I’ve worked in such a positive way,” she says. “The businesses and the sense of community, the people’s work ethic and their spirit – I wish I’d gone to work in Sheffield and the area a long time ago because it’s a fantastic place to be and got a real buzz about


COVER STORY it and that’s evident with what we’ve set up with the academies.” Rachel’s passion stems from her first role after leaving school as overseas operations manager for Thomson Holidays, now TUI, which was ‘very glamourous flying round the world every week’, but at a young age it ‘wasn’t all sandcastles and sangria’. Dealing with serious trauma such as a plane crash on mainland Spain was mentally and emotionally challenging but helped her build her resilience, as well as transferable skills. She was ‘not necessarily shy but not as confident as other staff’ but grew in confidence thanks to a combination of watching and learning other staff whose skills impressed her and a dynamic businesswoman mentor – in other words, other real-life role models, just like at the academies. “I learned everything from my mentor and that’s when I thought I need to help other people. I wouldn’t want people to struggle like I did when I thought ‘I can do that’ and then suddenly in middle of something and you’re not resilient or confident.” Ultimately, Rachel started training and mentoring other managers and became the youngest ever manager for the company at the time aged 22. “Everything I learned from a


corporate company worldwide has transferred into everything else. It’s about determination – I wanted that lifestyle, but I needed to learn how to get there. One of the things I feel strongly about at the college is the ethos of ‘careers not courses’ so my team will ask them what career do you want – apprenticeship, full-time job or university or higher education – and we work back from there and create a bespoke plan for them.” Which leads us nicely into the academies and The Sheffield College’s pioneering approach. “When we started looking at what could we do as a team to make the college unique, special, to make employer interaction meaningful – that’s when we came up with the idea of the academy brand. “In the first year I thought we’d be really successful if we opened three – and we ended up doing 12! WANdisco was our first, then Millgate and then we met Steve Manley.” The Sheffield business community was ‘so welcoming, almost like it was a business friendship straight away. Everyone wanted to work together, everyone wanted to help everyone else’, says Rachel, adding: “When I met Steve, it was really evident within five minutes that what he

I learned everything from my mentor and that’s when I thought I need to help other people.

wanted to do for the Chamber while he was president was exactly the same vision I had. “We talked about about his vision, and how I wanted the academy to look like a lecture theatre, so it was more like a university environment, and Steve was very keen for Chamber members to get involved so at the time we had 978 members – every business across the city, every sector, small and large, so it was a great spread for us to start building the academy.”


COVER STORY And after Rachel spoke about the academies at the Chamber annual dinner ‘everything went crazy – everyone wanted to get involved which was great!’ “Some employers wanted to dip their toe in with work placements or guest speaking. Others wanted an academy. It was like a snowball which kept going and it was very hard work – it was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my working career, but so worth it because it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. When you’re working on a project you’re passionate about you can’t stop and you can see how amazing it’s going to be!” “Steve is very passionate about what we’ve done. He used to go to The Sheffield College, and he set up his own business because he took part in Young Enterprise and is where he is today, so he was


very keen to give back. He’s had that experience so when he’s delivering workshops or mentoring students, it’s real because he’s done it.” Rachel is keen to turn the spotlight, too, on other academy stakeholders including Louisa HarrisonWalker of Benchmark and Sheffield Chamber, City Taxis’ Arnie Singh and unLTD columnist Helen Williams of Helping Entrepreneurs Win (read more about Helen’s work with the college in her feature from page 16). “We’ve got a really nice mix in Sheffield of corporate companies and SMEs and international companies and some really great personalities at the forefront of those businesses – people like Louisa who is all about collaboration and I think that really helps because behaviour breeds behaviour and that helps us get people on board. “I always say ‘if you can’t see

“We definitely need more women in engineering. Let’s not let fear, age, gender or anything else stop us from dreaming big and being the best we can. We can do it!”

NYACHIENG JOK JOHN, LIBERTY ACADEMY STUDENT “I joined the academy because Kier has a huge reputation within the construction industry... Since joining in September, the course has exceeded all expectations.”

KIAN BLAKEMORE, KIER ACADEMY STUDENT it you can’t be it’ so if young people in the community don’t have a role model but want to set up their own business and are wondering if they can they need to build confidence and resilience. They need to see people from their city that have made it as a success – Arnie Singh, he’s young, really relatable and students love him because he’s from Sheffield,

he’s built his business and is still here and giving back. “Helen Williams ran a confidence and resilience workshop, and we can hold 100 people in our lecture theatre – we had to turn staff away and Helen ended up coming back three times because it was that popular! “To have key stakeholders is an exceptional experience,


COVER STORY "Sport is not just between the competition lines, it is a major business with a lot of strands that need a skilled workforce to deliver and that is what we are here to teach.”

MIKE TUCK, CAPTAIN OF B. BRAUN SHEFFIELD SHARKS “Having a positive social impact is at the heart of everything we do, and it is a privilege to work with The Sheffield College and support young people in our region.”

HARRY BLISS OWNER OF UNIHEADS AND CHAMPION HEALTH it really is magical to see how different the students are.” And Rachel wants to hear from more employers, too. The message to employers is that the main investment is sharing their time and expertise,” she says. “And whether it’s a day’s work experience, a year’s placement, or a few projects or they want to speak to the Chamber academy – it doesn’t matter, because the more employers we can get involved the more we can help fill the skills gap. “Now that we’re leading the way with our employer academies, we need to stay front and centre. Without the employers driving that with myself and doing it together it wouldn’t have that buzz and be magical and I can’t stress enough how unique it is because of those employers.

They own our academies! I want businesses in Sheffield to see that and say ‘that’s our college and those are our academies and I want to be involved’ because they need to own that as well – we’re all responsible for our workforce. “We’re all in it together, particularly now under the pandemic and with business recovery. I’ve really felt the business community and the work the Chamber have been doing have really pulled together – we’re a team, it’s not about them and us, it’s about what we collectively do together. “If a business has ideas of doing something different or special, I welcome them because we can’t not stay out in front now – we’ve got to do it for the city, we’ve got to do it for the north!”

BITESIZE LEARNING LESSONS GETTING STARTED “We’ve launched a new programme called Start-up for students with an interest in becoming self-employed because this is going to be a massive growth area. “The sessions are managed by us under the academy brand and delivered by external speakers in areas like marketing, sales, procurement, mental health, resilience… “After 10 weeks they get a business mentor for three weeks and can apply for the Twinkl scholarship programme. This is launching in March and going to be a Dragons Den-type set up where they pitch their business plan and can potentially be sponsored by Twinkl to set up. Not only will they win the money, but they’ve got mentors like (Twinkl chief operating officer) David Angrave – that is a priceless prize.”

MARCH-ING AHEAD “We’re also launching in March a virtual reality (VR) placement platform with interactive voice overs and guest speaker talks so students can experience what it’s like to go on placement at businesses. “It’s absolutely incredible, I had a vision of what I wanted it to look like and it has completely exceeded that. “I can’t take credit for this, it is absolutely my team’s work and am keen for us to build on the VR platform this year because that’s going to be huge.”

SKILLS GAPS AND SKILLS GROWTH “When we started everyone had the same sorts of issues across industries such as ageing workforce. We need to be raising those pathways because if no one goes into a sector, it will die. “Another big area was digital – businesses’ website needed a refresh or they didn’t have one or didn’t use social media. Our young people know absolutely everything about being innovative with your media profile. “Recently people are talking about carbon footprint and CSR – we’re seeing more jobs that weren’t there two years ago. “The biggest thing now will be innovation – young people either with change management ideas or setting up as self-employed.”

SPRINGING BACK FROM COVID “The academies have become more crucial through the pandemic and spring-boarded because we were already doing virtual webinars and pre-recorded workshops. “The only thing that’s changed is students aren’t physically in the academy branded spaces, they’re at home, but still completely committed to those employer sponsors. That’s really evident in our data because we have a 97 per cent retention rate.” “If anything, they’ve thrived, and my team have been able to launch things like the virtual placements, but we couldn’t have done that without the academy brand. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”




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CHAMBER HUBS SET TO ‘DRIVE THE CITY’S FUTURE AGENDA’ Successful business is about working together, innovation, and driving change – creating the conditions for sustainable success. Perhaps most importantly, successful business is about collaboration. Collaboration with customers, clients, and suppliers. Collaboration between teams, colleagues, and partners. Collaboration between business, communities, and government. Those ideas are at the heart of a new network of collaborative spaces being developed by Sheffield Chamber of Commerce. We call these collaboration spaces – Chamber Hubs. Here is a sneak peek, exclusive to unLTD readers, that gives you the inside track on what the Chamber is building. Strategic Hubs – For businesses who want to drive the agenda in the city. These four Hubs will be where Chamber members gather to learn what is going on around Sheffield and shape

what the Chamber has to say on key policy issues. These are the places for debate, discussion, and driving an agenda about the future of Sheffield. • The Travel & Transport Hub is for those who care about making Sheffield the best-connected city in the UK. • The Low Carbon & Sustainable Business Hub is for those who want to drive Sheffield towards a zero-carbon future. • The Healthy & Diverse Workplaces Hub is for those who want businesses

in Sheffield to be the happiest, healthiest, and most diverse places to work. • The Social Impact & Community Hub is for those who care about our society, our community, and what binds us together as a city. Business Hubs – For those inspired by collaboration, making connections, and sharing ideas. These are the places where our members will forge new connections and spot opportunities.

• The Visionaries Hub is for budding entrepreneurs and individuals starting out in business. • The Explorers Hub is for Chamber members looking at new markets overseas or excited by export potential. • The Innovators Hub is for Chamber members who embrace change, challenge assumptions, and think big. • The Accelerators Hub is for Chamber members in a hurry, who want to scale and want access to smart thinking and finance. The Chamber is assembling a team of business leaders who will curate, inspire, and facilitate work in our Chamber Hubs. Chamber Members will shortly be invited to sign up to any of the Hubs that grab their attention. If you are not a Member, come and get involved in Sheffield Chamber. Successful business is all about collaboration and you would be very welcome.

To find out more about Chamber Hubs, contact the Chamber Team at membership@scci.org.uk or on 0114 201 8888




HOMEWORKING BEYOND COVID – WILL IT HAVE A BIG PART TO PLAY? Recent surveys have suggested that many people would like some element of homeworking to become a permanent fixture of their job. Richard Pilgrim, marketing manager at Travel South Yorkshire’s Active and Sustainable Travel Team, talks to Chris Coates about the importance of employer and employee communication when it comes to future working practices According to a survey by AlphaWise of office workers across Europe, many ‘do not expect to return to their workplace until at least the summer’. Sixty two per cent of those currently working from home, for at least one day a week, think they will be back in the office around June. The survey, undertaken by AlphaWise, also highlighted that UK office workers have continued to spend more time working from home – an average of 3.1 days per week,


compared to Germany (2.5 days) and Spain (1.8 days). When asked how many days they would like to work from home in the future, respondents from the UK said they wanted an average of around 2.5 days per week. But the feeling amongst those surveyed was that their employer may not match their expectations, with most believing that they were more likely to be allowed to work from home around 1.5 days per week. At the same time, a separate YouGov poll showed

that 66 per cent of people listed the ‘ability to work remotely or flexibly’ as their top priority when looking for roles in the future. Although the 40 per cent of people that that have continued to work from home have realised a number of benefits from increased workplace flexibility, and many employers have supported this transition, it has not been an easy time for many who have needed to juggle work and family commitments.

Whilst uncertainty continues around how and where large numbers of people will work in the future, there have been noticeable shifts in attitudes towards remote working. There have been several recent high-profile stories of organisations that have permanently switched to, or expanded their use of, remote and home-based working. Many of these have involved major household names with offices in multiple territories, but there are examples far



closer to home. Last month, Grand Central Rail made the decision to move their customer relations team permanently from their Sheffield HQ and introduce a permanent working from home operation. Whilst the timing of the move coincided with the end of the lease on their Sheffield office, it also came in response to feedback from employees. Time will tell if moves such as this are indeed permanent. It’s vital that the


Flexibility in future working practices will also bring with it a more flexible nature to commuting

conversations between employer and employee happen now, so that expectations can be captured and supported from all sides of the debate. What may work for one employer or employee will not work for another. Flexibility in future working practices will also bring with it a more flexible nature to commuting, particularly where people are working in a more ‘hybrid’ way. And whilst employees may be able to reconsider their own

commuting habits more fully, employers will also pay greater interest to how their people choose to travel to and from their place of work. To find out how Travel South Yorkshire’s Active and Sustainable Travel team can help your workplace to help keep these conversations going and explore options for the future commute, contact sustainabletravel@sypte.co.uk or visit travelsouthyorkshire. com/workplace.


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WHITE ROSE TUITION MD Sarah Elliott tells unLTD how ‘fantastic support’ from Launchpad helped her realise the ‘long-held dream’ of setting up the family business White Rose Tuition offer tuition in all subjects including, for example, arts and crafts for adult learners. We would also like to offer group sessions making learning accessible for more students. Currently, we are also in the process of producing fantastic, selflearning style courses that students can download to aid in their studies.

Tell us about your company? White Rose Tuition are based in South Yorkshire. We offer a bespoke tuition service where we match the individual needs of each student to their perfect, fully vetted tutor. Every tutor on our site is an expert in their subject and experienced with online tuition. Our tutors are lovely people and have a fantastic record helping children and young people across the UK. When did you first decide to start up on your own and what inspired you? Starting a tuition business was a long-held dream. In August 2020, my sister, Elizabeth Bell and I were


discussing the impact of COVID-19 on school students and our idea was formed. Working together to combine our 40 years’ teaching experience, we created White Rose Tuition. Ours is truly a family business as our 90-yearold father even came up with our name! As the first lockdown took hold, we felt passionate about trying to make a difference in supporting students who had fallen behind due to school closures. As tutors ourselves, we were determined to create a tutorfriendly platform for other educational professionals who were looking to increase their portfolio of students.

How has Launchpad helped you? Launchpad has been a fantastic support to us as a start-up business and provided invaluable business advice. We have been able to access workshops on customer profiling, marketing, and forming an effective business plan. Networking with other businesses was also made easy and it felt good to meet others going through a challenging time for SMEs in this climate. What are your hopes and aims for the business? Our hope for the future of White Rose Tuition is to build a platform where we can

“I love working with Elizabeth as she shows such a passion for teaching and was very keen to learn as much as possible about how to start a business. Starting a business is never easy especially under Covid and I am delighted that her client base is growing” “Starting and growing a business is not easy and that’s why the Launchpad programme was created. Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and our partners means there is no cost to the entrepreneur, so we can get straight to work on turning those dreams into reality. “Stop dreaming and do it. Contact us for information now on 03330 00 00 39 or email growthhub@ sheffieldcityregion.org. uk.”


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PARK HILL WELCOMES ITS FIRST CONVENIENCE STORE CALLED PARK HILL PROVISIONS Park Hill is to welcome its first convenience store. The award-winning redevelopment and joint venture between Urban Splash and Places for People has been planning to add a store as an amenity on site now that the population within Park Hill is well over 800 – a number which will grow later this year when new residents move in to the next phase. Zak Malook, who already runs two other stores in the city, will be managing the one at Park Hill. Called Park Hill Provisions, it will provide “a one-stop-shop”, says Zak. The store signage design will be in keeping with other notices around Park Hill that are all intended to reflect the heritage and shape of Park Hill. Park Hill Provisions will be based on the site of the Parkway Tavern, one of the four original pubs that were onsite at Park Hill. The double fronted 1890 sq ft store will be based within Béton House, Phase 3 of the redevelopment, completed by student housing specialists Alumno Developments in September 2020 and now occupied. Zak says: “I was born and brought up in Sheffield and know the area of Park Hill as I already run a store nearby, and my current customers were old residents of the place. I have been wanting to open a store there for a while as it’s a great location and I expect to be used by residents as well as the surrounding local communities.


“I was the first person to make enquiries about the unit when I saw it was available. We have now exchanged on the premises and after arranging the fit out I shall be planning the opening celebrations in the coming months.” Nicky Harries on behalf of the joint venture, said: “We are delighted to welcome Zak and his store Park Hill Provisions, adding to the growing

amenities on site. We envisage Zak’s shop to become a real asset and a community hub just as the café; South Street Kitchen based in Phase 1 has proved to be. At Park Hill we are creating a place where people can live, work and play with access to community amenities as well as green space provided by our landscaped areas that have proved so popular during the recent lockdowns.”

The commercial opportunities at Park Hill include 20,000 sq ft of new mixed-use commercial space available within Phase 2, currently being developed, providing the opportunity for a variety of work, leisure and retail spaces. These will be available later in the year. For further information visit: urbansplash.co.uk/commercial


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OF BUSINESS LEADERS Since the pandemic, Barnsley College has seen a record number of businesses launched by its students, with support from the iTrust initiative – here they share two success stories

The iTrust initiative is a joint venture between the College, Barnsley Chronicle and The Business Village which supports students interested in starting up a business. Students have access to an array of information and guidance, including mentoring from the College’s Enterprise team, The Prince’s Trust, industry specialists and local businesses from the College’s Talent United networking community. The scheme can also provide a start-up grant of up to £250. Jess Widdowson, enterprise team leader at Barnsley College said: “The guidance and support are invaluable to our aspiring entrepreneurs as they get first-hand, practical advice from successful business leaders. “Talent United partners can devote as little or as much time as they wish and there are some extremely worthwhile benefits associated with the scheme, not least the fulfilment gained from mentoring a young person and watching their business grow. The College continues to Transform Lives and help our students to fulfil their potential throughout this very difficult time.” Megan Faith Art Student Megan Timms turned her craft hobby into a career



when she launched her business, producing and selling products including jewellery, accessories and sculptures. Studying Level 3 Digital Design at the College, Megan said: “During lockdown I started experimenting with polymer clay. I made a few pieces of jewellery and loved the process as it was fun to work on something that brought my art to life. “I have always been interested in starting my own business but often thought I had to be older or didn’t have enough time. Lockdown was the perfect opportunity, and as I’d already designed my own branding in one of my units at College, it gave me confidence

to build my brand and design all the elements that go with it.” Megan invested an iTrust £250 grant in a machine enabling her to make new products. She has also launched an e-commerce website to showcase her products. Victoria Prendergast Victoria decided to turn her love of health and fitness into a full-time job after realising she could support her local community to get engaged in sports. Ex-forces and now studying Coaching, Physical Education and Sports Development at Barnsley College, Victoria will open a bootcamp activity group to host a variety of fitness

programmes, creating a safe environment which is accessible by all. Victoria said: “I am a qualified personal trainer and have been helping local people to stay motivated to keep fit by joining them for runs. I’ve realised a lot of parents in my local area live such busy lives they lack the drive to keep fit and encourage their children to do the same. I see children spending time on devices and gaming, so they are missing out on really important time being sociable and active. I want to encourage an active lifestyle and make activities more accessible.” Victoria has assisted a nutrition class at her local church which has given her fresh knowledge and skills to advise local people and is also studying a course to enable her to understand autism better and help create an entirely inclusive business. She intends to spend her iTrust £250 grant on insurance for a venue to host fitness classes, and also cover costs to ensure classes are COVID-secure. Find out more about iTrust or the employer engagement initiatives offered by Barnsley College – visit www.barnsley. ac.uk/enterprise or email enterprise@barnsley.ac.uk



THE UBER RULING – AND THE FUTURE FOR THE GIG ECONOMY Following the recent Supreme Court ruling that Uber drivers are workers and not self-employed, Sara Ellison, chartered legal executive at Banner Jones, takes a look at why the case is important – and what it could mean for employers

On 20 February 2021, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the long-awaited Uber case (Uber BV and Others v Aslam and Others). All six judges unanimously ruled Uber drivers were workers, not self-employed contractors and as a result were entitled to basic employment rights like National Minimum Wage, holiday pay and sick pay. Why is this case important for the gig economy? In 2019, it was estimated by the TUC that more than 5 million people were employed in the gig economy and it would be fair to assume that this figure has risen because of the pandemic and the increased reliance on delivery drivers, for example. This illustrates the potential number of workers who will be looking at the Uber case and questioning their own employment status. For any employers relying on casual contracts it could mean an increased risk of expensive claims where the employment relationship is not clear. In the UK there are currently three different types of employment status: Employees – they have the most employment rights and are afforded the most protection by employment law. While employees have more labour security, the employer has more control over when,



where and how the work is carried out. Workers – they have more flexibility over how they work and some basic employment rights and protection, such as the right to be paid the National Minimum Wage, holiday pay and sick pay.



Self-employed/ contractors – they

have very little employment law protection but should, in theory, have full control over the terms upon which they carry out their services (and the most symptomatic of the gig economy). Simply labelling someone as a self-employed contractor does not make them selfemployed if, in reality, they are being treated as a worker or an employee with little selfcontrol of how they carry out

their services. Uber has found this out to its detriment and, no doubt, at a huge cost when the Employment Tribunal determines how much compensation the Uber drivers should now be awarded. The Uber judgment follows the recent review of the gig economy in the Governmentcommissioned Taylor Review, which resulted in the Good Work Plan that came into force in April 2020. The Plan aims to secure a better balance between flexibility and employment rights. Part of this protection is to ensure all workers are given a statement by their employer on the first day of their relationship, confirming their status and their terms and conditions for undertaking work. Following the Uber judgment, and in line with the Good Work Plan, employers in all industries, not just the gig economy, should be ensuring their contracts are up to date and the right ‘label’ has been correctly applied to the relationship. Employers need to ensure the contract terms are provided on day one – this is now mandatory in all cases and could lead to claims for failure to provide them. Many employers in all sectors have understandably been preoccupied with the pandemic since the Good Work Plan came into force, so now may be a good time for employers to review their contracts. Our team are here to help.



PODCAST SPOTLIGHT This month we talk to the people behind Sheffield-based SEO agency Rise at Seven to find out how they have, well, risen so quickly! And producer James Marriott turns the spotlight on Sheffield Digital, podcasting strategy – and the best kit to buy, too!

Rise at Seven Carrie Rose and Stephen Kenwright set up Rise at Seven just over 18 months ago and have already grown to 60 plus members of staff and picked up major accounts including online retailers Missguided and Halfords. Now with offices in London, and a newly announced one in Chicago, Carrie and Stephen tell us the story behind the firm’s meteoric success and what they have learned about operating a fast-growing startup during a pandemic. Sheffield Digital Sheffield Digital is a not-forprofit organisation which links all the area’s digital industries. Some directors also do a cracking regular podcast exploring the issues facing businesses and freelancers around South Yorkshire. Recently, they decided to take a short break from creating new episodes – giving you plenty of time to catch up with some of the 70 they’ve already produced. Episode 69 in December is a good starting place, looking back on a ‘unique’ year for the city’s digital community.


Audio Strategy Unless you’ve been completely hidden away this year, you’ve probably heard of Clubhouse. You might not be so familiar with Twitter Spaces. And even less likely to have come across Facebook Audio Live. The latter two are still in beta stages, but they all share something in common – audio-driven social media. It’s pretty clear this year is a huge one for audio, with podcasting continuing to grow at a pace. This brings us to Audio Strategy – basically a plan for how your business approaches these platforms and its overall ‘sound’. It’s a bit complex to go into full details about here, but I did a 25-minute presentation all about it last month with the lovely folk at Sheffield DM which you can catch up with – just search on YouTube for ‘Sheffield DM #11’.

In short – you really should be putting time aside to work out your strategy for audio in 2021, otherwise you’re at serious risk of getting left behind. And of course, if you need help creating or growing a podcast for your brand, get in touch: james@unltdbusiness. com Podcasting Q&A: What’s the best podcast mic? This is often the first question someone starting a podcast asks – I understand why. We all love buying a new toy! But honestly, it’s better to hang on until you have properly nailed down your format and strategy. Once you know exactly WHAT your show is, you can pick the mic to match. Right now, chances are you’re only going need something to record you, as everything is being done

virtually. But in time, maybe you’ll be looking to do face-toface recordings – so get a mic to match. I recommend USB microphones as they’re simple and cost-effective. If you’re just recording yourself, you can’t go far wrong with the Rode NT-USB. It’s sturdy, sounds great, and is a bit of a looker to boot. For something a bit more futureproof, the Blue Yeti has been around for years, but still stands out because of its four recording modes – it’s good for solo episodes but also for larger groups recording together. If your budget is a bit higher, the mic I use is a Shure MV7. The sound is simply superb, and you’ll even get comments on how clear you are on things like Zoom calls. unLTD’s latest podcast episode is available through all your usual podcast providers – search ‘unLTD business’.




ZOOMING IN With networking events cancelled, many offices closed, and face-to-face meetings discouraged, video conferencing has slotted into our lives to connect us to our colleagues, clients and customers. While many of us have felt distant from the teams and people we have worked with, Zoom, Teams, Hangouts and FaceTime have been utilised in new ways to help keep us in touch. unLTD’s Dan Laver shares his own experiences and learns how technology has enabled some local businesses not just to communicate between themselves but to reach out across the world and discover new ways of working that are here to stay.

unLTD HEAD OF SALES, DAN LAVER I hate Zoom. There, I said it. That’s not some strange brand loyalty to Google, Apple or Microsoft. Zoom is actually my software of choice, but I hate it in the same way that I hate my internet provider every time Netflix freezes during Rick & Morty and my washing machine, every time I overload it and it refuses to complete the spin cycle. The truth is, that I resent Zoom. Overnight, about a year ago, much of what I love about my job got stripped away and I’m one of those people who has never settled in to ‘the new normal’. I want the old normal back, thanks and Zoom is my constant reminder that it isn’t here yet and might not be for some time. Networking events were very much my bread and butter. I have often been chided by my peers as the guy who turns up at the opening of an envelope/door/jar of beetroot and it’s true that not


only did I find them one of the best routes for meeting new potential customers, but I genuinely enjoyed them. Most of them, anyway. The ones that started at 6:30am were probably a bit too much. That enjoyment never

really came from being given the opportunity to sell my wares Dragons Den style for 90 seconds while we were waiting for the bacon butties, but from the chance to really get to know the people I was meeting. I miss really getting

to know people. The catchups by the coffee jug where someone lets me know why the bloke in accounts got the hump with them and how they finally managed to close the deal that they’ve been working on for the last month or two. I’ve met some great people on Zoom, I admit it. I’ve enjoyed quite a few of the events that I’ve attended, even if I’ve slightly regretted being quite so honest to Andy Hanselman when he asks me to rate how I’m feeling out of ten, forgetting over 30 people were listening to my rant! It’s also been very handy to sit in my conservatory and catch up with Sophie Conboy at Connect Yorkshire rather than driving to Leeds and the benefits of dressing formally above the waist only are an unexpected pleasure. But I still loathe Zoom. And that’s because I miss everyone. And I hope that soon, we can meet up and gossip by the coffee jug while we wait for that bacon buttie.



STEFAN TOBLER, FOUNDER AND OTHER STORIES As COVID-19 hit in 2020, we saw larger publishers becoming risk-averse (as they were ten years ago in the last recession), and so we had an opportunity to grow that was too good to miss. For almost all our ten years of existence, we've published most of our books in the US as well as the UK, with separate sales and publicity campaigns in each territory. It's always a thrill when one has taken off and become a word-of-mouth and sales success through our work there. We put 'New York' on our books along with Sheffield (our home) and London (where we have a publicity outpost), but we kept active in the US mainly through a lot of transatlantic trips by me from Manchester airport. It was not great to head off for weeks and leave my wife to hold the fort alone with our little pre-schoolers, and it was certainly not playing our part to reduce carbon emissions. In 2020 it became clear that no one is going to care if you actually rent some overpriced, underheated Brooklyn office space. As long you have a team of US-based staff, you have a US office. And if you have the right people, people take you seriously. In some ways, the post-COVID landscape is



much more of a meritocracy and benefits businesses like ours who are not based in the mega-cities. So, what did we do? We expanded our US office – quickly recruited three of the most respected people in the industry (in editorial, publicity and bookseller outreach), people who we'd heard had had the bad luck to fall foul of pandemic redundancies. And now that we are all used to working remotely, we could choose the best candidates,

We expanded our US office – quickly recruited three of the most respected people in the industry.

not the ones who happen to live in one location. Our US publicist lives in Brooklyn (handy, for sure), but our editor is in upstate New York and our outreach person in Chicago. By comparison, last year, we failed to recruit for a senior role in Sheffield because there are not yet many publishing folk here. In future, we may find it easier to recruit, if we are less set on the person relocating here. (Hard as it is to imagine anyone struggling to relocate!) And what has our expanded US office meant? The industry considers us part of the US publishing community now. This is already growing sales in the US for us. And even once all the COVID restrictions pass, I'm not going to burn through carbon and money with the transatlantic flights. I know my US colleagues will do a great job and I can stay home. We're also using the changes of 2020 to re-evaluate how worthwhile different projects have been and to cut anything that isn't adequately repaying our time and financial commitment. It's like a year-long spring clean, and actually, it feels great. One thing is for sure though, we'll always be committed to growing our publishing work in Sheffield, away from the metropolitan centres. I wouldn't be anywhere else.


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NISHA KOTECHA AND ALEX SWALLOW, SOCIAL GOOD SHEFFIELD Social Good Sheffield is a meetup for people in the Sheffield area who are involved in social good in some way – perhaps they volunteer at, or work for, a charity, social enterprise or social business. Pre-pandemic, we used to meet at a city centre pub. Having online meetups has been a lovely way to keep our networks connected. It has lifted our collective spirits during this difficult time to hear inspiring stories of all the


ways the Sheffield community has come together and made a difference. The three biggest things we’ve learned about online meetups are:

dynamics of online are different, so we have introductions at the beginning and we try to get as many people talking as possible so everyone gets something out of it before they leave.

It is important to try to involve everyone as fully as possible. At our physical meetups, people could circulate and meet each other and come and go as they pleased. So for example, people could just introduce themselves as and when and if they only wanted to stay for a quick drink, that was fine. The

Planning things out beforehand is more important when you are dealing with things online. For example, for in-person events we might be chatting to people and then we’ll go to order a drink at the bar and in that bit of time on our own we can think things like ‘Ah I must introduce X person to Y person’



or ‘I wonder if Z person is having a good time?’. With online meetups you are less likely to have those little breaks, so pre-planning helps. Online meetups do have their advantages and it is good to focus on those. It can be easier to get people together and it is much easier to share resources with the whole group. Focusing on the positive aspects of online, rather than having the constant feeling that we’d rather be in the pub (even if we sometimes miss it!) helps us all.




CHRIS WOOD BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE, OVO SPACES Zoom, the platform unknown to so many in 2019, should look at creating an annual award for the most used phrase, and if so, the winner for 2020 would without a doubt be ‘you’re on mute’. For me, Zoom is something I knew I had to get used to and learn about with me starting out in a new business development role for OVO Spaces in September 2020. I wanted to attend networking events and build relationships with businesses around the


Sheffield City Region but with the country being in a pandemic I knew face-to-face wasn’t going to be possible, so remembering I wasn’t on mute when speaking and understanding virtual backgrounds instead of having my kitchen units or bedroom wardrobes on show it was. Over the past five or six months I have attended many different networking events online across the South Yorkshire region which, if it wasn’t for online platforms such as Zoom, just wouldn’t have been able to go ahead. From a personal view, I can’t

wait for the ‘old’ normality to come back and we can be back networking and having meetings face-toface, especially with us being in an industry where those conversations can benefit our company much more than being online. Doing so much work online and asking for Zoom links instead of ‘which pub shall we go to for lunch’ actually made me think a few months ago ‘will people even recognise me on behalf of OVO when we get back face to face?’ Well, a few weeks ago this only went and happened as I’d bumped into someone in real life – at a

social distance! – who I’d only ever met on Zoom and they said ‘Chris, you’re a lot taller than I thought from Zoom’. The likes of Zoom and Teams and their platforms might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ll always be grateful for them giving me the opportunity to meet many different people such as Dan Laver, businesses such as unLTD, becoming a part of networking groups that moved online such as 3D Connect with Andy Hanselman and Jill White, and I will still continue to do so until it’s safe for everyone to go back face-toface.



ANDY HANSELMAN What do the following have in common? • £2,600 raised for Weston Park Cancer Charity • Amazing insights from some of the region’s most successful leaders including Arnie Singh of City Taxis, Amanda Holmes of Dransfield Properties, Dave Capper of Westfield Health, Julie Dalton of Gullivers Valley, Marie Cooper of CBE+ and Simon Biltcliffe of Webmart. • Local young hero Captain Tobias being donated a super tricycle for his fundraising adventures from a very generous local business, Jiraffe. • A new van for the wonderful charity Grimm & Co. • Insights into the revolutionary new tourist attraction, Gullivers at Rother Valley • People signing up for online beer festivals inspired by entrepreneur Fraser Doherty. They were just some of the outcomes of our online 3D Connect events over the past year that have had lots of local


business leaders learning together, exchanging ideas, suggestions, sharing and solving problems, supporting each other, and doing business together. Yes, like all networking events, Zoom can have some vocal, hard sell, and, dare we say, opinionated people. It can also be a great source of stimulation, innovation,

challenge, learning and fun – provided, of course, you attend the right events! We’ve worked hard to ensure our 3D Connect events have done this by transferring what works well at our monthly face-to-face gatherings onto Zoom. That includes ‘participation’ (no two-minute pitches, but updates on how things are

going and how people are feeling), sharing of ideas and experiences. As well as the names mentioned earlier, we’ve had some amazing insights from successful leaders from businesses such as 3 Squared, Airship, Jessica Flynn Design, HLM Architects, Glu Recruit, Razor, BHP, Bhayani HR, Resolve IT and SCCCC. A real success factor has been the honesty of people sharing their challenges and issues as well as their successes. Other things people tell us they like? Interacting, having ‘fun’, whether that’s quizzes and the banter between participants, or making it focused and relevant, and keeping it ‘short and sweet’ – 9.00 am to 10.30am and then it’s back to work! So, yes, our monthly 3D Connect Zoom sessions have been a real success story and we’ve had some fantastic experiences, even having treats delivered on one occasion by the City Grab team. But…we can’t wait to get to see everyone back face-to-face as soon as possible!


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FOR SHEFFIELD BID The pandemic has been tough on businesses, but with Sheffield voting in favour of another five years of BID, a vibrant (albeit different) future lies ahead according to BID deputy chair John Baddeley It’s never been more important to support Sheffield’s city centre as it’s going through an incredibly difficult time, and I’m not just saying that from my role as part of the BID – but also from the perspective of a business itself as chair of Wake Smith Solicitors. I think a lot of people often take the work BID does for granted, but without the BID things likely would have been a lot worse. Take our street cleaning service for example; without it who would get rid of the rubbish in doorways and clear away the graffiti left from the night before? If that doesn’t happen soon our city becomes a much less desirable place to be, and that’s the last thing anyone wants as non-essential stores start to reopen. We await further Government announcements on support for the High Street which may help to kickstart it. Not that we’re expecting to see an immediate return to normality with footfall numbers where they were prior to the first lockdown, as it’s going to be very difficult to attract shoppers in particular offline.


The horse may have already bolted there but I think what people will come to the City Centre for is the experience and, when restrictions are fully lifted come June, I hope BID can continue to build on its legacy of supporting events that help to bring people into the centre. One of my past favourites was Santa’s Post Office. I went in one evening, straight after work, and it was really good to see families

there and the looks on children’s faces as they sent their letters to and saw it on a journey across the wall to Santa. The Bears of Sheffield should finally go ahead later this year, with BID acting as headline sponsor, after being delayed due to the pandemic. Families will take a tour of the city centre and tick off each bear as they go around on their app. We also hope to have an increased focus on making Fargate a more vibrant area, as it has arguably lost its crown as Sheffield’s premiere shopping street following extensive redevelopments of The Moor.

It’s going to be a case of looking at what we do with our city centres, and how we repurpose them. For one we now have more people living in the area than ever, especially if you look at the number of students in apartments and flats who require restaurants, bars and other services. That is what will fill the void left, in addition to which we need to encourage more independent businesses and smaller retailers to get involved as they offer something different. It won’t perhaps fill the big space where major retailers like Topshop used to occupy, but with more diverse restaurants, cafes and entertainment to hold people we hope Sheffield city centre will remain a really vibrant place to be. This is going to be a reinvention that will take some time, and in the end not all city centres will likely look the same anymore – but I for one am looking forward to having a unique ‘Sheffieldness’ about our city centre. Find out more about Sheffield BID here: www.sheffieldbid.com


To all our clients:

YOU’RE AWESOME No calls to action, no gimmicks, no cheesy sales lines, just a simple message - we love you. This past year has been a difficult time for all businesses. Just like you, we’ve struggled, we’ve adapted and, thankfully, we’ve survived. This is down to you, our clients. Your continued trust in us during this time has kept us going, and without you, we simply wouldn’t be here. And so, we want to say thank you. Thank you to each and every one of you for continuing to work with us through this difficult time. #BestClientsEver


*Let’s meet up for coffee and cake when this is all over. It’s on us.

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ECOPORIUM The team at Ecoporium are currently crowdfunding to open a plastic-free coffee shop and re-fillery in Waverley. Here they share with unLTD their hopes to create a community hub and an educational resource – as well as providing a good cup of coffee!


Tell us about your business – sell yourselves! Hello, we are the Ecoporium! We are currently crowdfunding to open a new plastic-free coffee shop and re-fillery in Waverley. The Ecoporium will stock freshly baked bread and confectionary from a local baker as well as milk in refillable glass bottles from a local dairy. We will sell basic food items such as rice, flour and pasta as well as household cleaners and


cosmetics – all plastic-free. The coffee shop will only be using compostable coffee cups or customers’ own refillable cups. We will create a community hub that will signpost people to local resources and act as a meeting place. We will provide workshops, talks, and activities to bring like-minded people together to make friends while at the same time decreasing plastic waste in South Yorkshire in an enjoyable way!

While there are a few plastic-free shops in Sheffield, we would be the only one to be an educational resource as well as providing a good cup of coffee. Who are your customers and how are you targeting them? We are currently using social media to connect without customers. Our audience is young families – we hope to engage the whole family in plastic reduction. Our range

of workshops will cover all ages and we hope to work with the local schools within the next year. We've had so much interest and support so far – we can't wait to open our doors! How can people get in touch with you? Email: info@ecoporium.co.uk Web: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/ ecoporium Facebook: www.facebook. com/Ecoporium.Waverley





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EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNALS: WHAT TYPE OF CLAIMS ARE LIKELY TO INCREASE? Employment Tribunals are on the rise – and expected to continue as a result of the ongoing pandemic. Here the Taylor Bracewell team take a look at which type of claims are likely to increase over the next year It is no surprise that claims to the Employment Tribunal have increased by 18 per cent, compared to the same quarter the previous year, for the period of April to June 2020, according to the Ministry of Justice quarterly statistics. We predict that this figure will increase further over the coming months as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the winding up of the furlough scheme expected in April 2021. What type of claims are likely to increase over the next year? Whistleblowing Most employers, without a doubt, will have dealt with a query relating to their obligations in some form or another. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the law. Employers should be particularly wary of ‘furlough fraud’ and dealing with concerns about health


and safety. This might include situations where an employee has refused to attend work out of fear of contracting the virus. Discrimination Discrimination is when an individual is put at a disadvantage because of a protected characteristic. The characteristics include disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race religion or belief. This year, the UK’s attention has been firmly drawn towards equality for all with the #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements, the consultation relating to mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting, and the topical debate about if individuals should be forced to take the vaccine. Discrimination claims are likely to surge and we encourage employers to consider discrimination when considering any type of decision-making.

Unfair dismissal When the furlough scheme eventually comes to an end, it is highly likely that businesses across the UK will face the daunting prospect of making employees redundant. We predict that Employment Tribunals are likely to be inundated with these types of claims for the foreseeable future. Employers should plan for redundancy, ensuring that they have sufficient time to go through the necessary steps before terminating an employee’s contract. Why is this important? Employment Tribunal claims can be costly, stressful,

and disruptive. More often than not, a lack of planning and knowledge of current employment law lead to an increase in disputes within the workplace. While you cannot always prevent an Employment Tribunal claim being brought, employers can minimise the risk of facing a claim, and the damage if the worst happened, by obtaining upto-date legal advice as soon as possible. For further information, please contact Harriet Gardner on 01302 965250 or by email at: harriet@taylorbracewell.co.uk


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CLEANING UP – WITH FLEXIBILITY AND VALUE Over the past 12 months the team at Crystal Clean Service have helped businesses stay open with cleaning methods that meet government guidelines. With more businesses looking to re-open under the road to recovery they tell unLTD how they can offer flexibility in uncertain times Over the past 12 months our teams have helped businesses to stay open with stringent and thorough cleaning methods that meet the government guidelines to ensure confidence to staff, visitors and customers. Sarize Hill, the operations director for Crystal Clean Service, has been looking at ways to help more businesses over the next six months. “The road to recovery announcement is very helpful in providing a time-frame for businesses to come out of lockdown, but we understand that many are still facing uncertainty and feel that now is not the time to be taking on long-term commitments. “While some services are necessary for your business, we know you need to ensure that you are getting true value for money. COVID-19 has taught us all to look for the best value services that effectively meet the needs of our businesses, and we understand that anything that falls short of your expectations is not viable. So, to help support local businesses, we have introduced the ‘Crystal Clean Flexible Contracts’ for new clients who want to change or enhance their cleaning procedures. These options give business owners the freedom to adapt their service, either


when their needs change or when the government restrictions are lifted.” Fully Flexed “Sign up to a regular cleaning service for up to six months under a rolling monthly agreement. As your business reopens you may need enhanced cleaning measures to ensure that you are meeting government guidance and providing a safe environment. “We understand that if the new roadmap for the UK is successful then you may not need this service on an ongoing basis. 'Fully Flexed' enables you to sign up to a monthly package for up to six months that can be cancelled at any point during this period, with just 30 days’ notice. B23 “Designed for those businesses who are looking for a regular, ongoing cleaning service but feel unsure about signing a 12-month contract. If you are looking for a reliable and professional cleaning service from a trustworthy supplier, we are now giving you a three-month trial option.

“On the ‘B23’ package you will get all the same high standards as every customer, but we are giving you reassurance that if you are not happy you can walk away without any tie-ins. We know that you’ll be 100 per cent confident with our service and standards and this is our way of providing you with a more flexible entry to working with

a high-quality service provider. “We look forward to supporting you and your teams on your road to recovery by making sure you have a clean and safe working environment. If either of these options are of interest to you or you would like to discuss any other cleaning services to help prepare for your return to work, then give us a call today.”




EVEN THOUGH WE’RE APART, WE’RE STILL SHEFFIELD TOGETHER Cavendish Cancer Care, an independent charity based in Sheffield, is encouraging people to get ‘Sheffield Together’ while we’re apart by joining in a fundraising fun run route – on their doorstep. Last year more than 130 runners, joggers and walkers powered through a new route around Ecclesall Woods to raise £7,718 for Cavendish services which are dedicated to offering free of charge support to cancer patients and their loved ones. This year is going to be different, but with the same aim as always – to raise as much money as possible, to continue providing life

changing therapy for families affected by cancer. On March 7, pop on the trainers and enjoy the great outdoors, right on your doorstep. Supported by partner sponsor Atherton Godfrey Solicitors, there will be fundraising goodies up for grabs. If you reach £55 individual sponsorship, you’ll receive a Sheffield Together t-shirt, and £110 individual sponsorship, a #TeamCav medal, too. Matthew Gascoyne, senior solicitor at Atherton Godfrey, said: “We are thrilled to be able to support Cavendish with Sheffield Together again this year. After a successful

2020 event, we have seen how hard charities like Cavendish Cancer Care have been hit by the pandemic. We encourage everyone to get outdoors and be together in spirit with us on March 7."

To sign up, visit www.sheffieldtogether.co.uk. For more information, get in touch on hello@cavcare.org.uk or call the Fundraising Office on 0114 275 4070.

OLDER SHEFFIELDER RECEIVES VACCINE THANKS TO CHARITY’S PANDEMIC HELP An older Sheffielder who struggles to walk has hailed a charity scheme for helping him to get his virus vaccine. Roy Helliwell, aged 78, reached his appointment thanks to (SCCCC), who are escorting existing service users in an extension to one of their flagship schemes. The father of three says the two SCCCC team members who drove him to his appointment and kept him company while there helped him to overcome his anxieties about the jab. Roy said: “The two ladies who took me were really good to me. I was a bit nervous, so one of them, Emma, stood with me whilst I was waiting. One advantage of someone talking to me, was my worries went, and I didn’t even know I’d had the jab. Her chatting to me for the 15 minutes after was also a welcome relief.”



Emma Ward, Hospital to Home team member, said: “Roy was a delight to escort to his vaccine. I was allowed to escort him into the surgery and wait with him in the queue.

“We had a wonderful time waiting in the queue, and we talked about Roy's wonderful marriage and the strong bond he has now with his sister-in-law who lives in Canada and who he plays online Scrabble with!

"It's fantastic that as part of SCCCC we get to be able to provide this kind of additional support, particularly at such a crucial moment for the nation’s older people.”



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