Since its COVID Business Helpline was set up at the start of the pandemic, the Kent and Medway Growth Hub (KMGH) has helped thousands of companies adjust to changing times.
A one-stop-shop for business advice, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP)-funded Hub helps new and existing firms find the most suitable support available in their area – from accessing funding to connecting with other like-minded enterprises.
Since March 2020 the KMGH COVID line, backed by Kent County Council (KCC) and a number of districts, has received over 18,000 calls for advice – including guidance on grant applications, furlough arrangements and home working.
More than 5,300 businesses, primarily in Hospitality, Services and some in Agriculture, have also been assisted by webchats, with a further 8,785 receiving individual one-to-one advice sessions.
Now the Kent & Medway Growth Hub is focused on supporting businesses as the UK economy continues its COVID recovery and adaption to Brexit. And Kent companies are being reminded that support, including 36 hours of one-to-one free mentoring through the Hub’s KCC-funded enhanced Business Support Programme, is just a phone call away – on 03333 602 300.
As well as providing direct advice, and offering a ‘Find A Desk’ service for start-ups, businesses are also being invited to join Peer Networks – a national peer-to-peer networking programme for SME leaders who want to grow and develop.
Delivered locally by coaching organisation New Level Results, Social Enterprise Kent and Kent and Medway Growth Advisers, cohorts of diverse individuals are created to learn from one another. By collaboratively working through common business issues, course members gain skills enabling them to act on new opportunities, proactively generate leads, stay on top of cashflow and build a trusted network of connections to support them on their journey.
There is some simple eligibility criteria to meet and an enquiry form to complete to make sure people are placed into a group which matches them to peers with similar challenges and opportunity.
Seb Tidey, Director of Total Sports Coaching, based in Ramsgate, is one of numerous young business leaders to have completed the Peer Networks programme.
Seb, who works to help children’s personal development through values-based coaching, encouraging them to lead a healthy and active lifestyle, said: “The peer networking programme was excellent for me as an individual and for my business. The sessions were very well led and I felt comfortable sharing issues and areas I wanted to improve on.
“The advice I received from the people within the network, and the experts leading it, was hugely valuable. I left every week with new ideas, connections and solutions.”
Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Derek Murphy, said: “There is so much support available for businesses that going through a one-stop shop such as the Growth Hub can make the experience of seeking advice less time consuming and daunting.
“It is also clear from the sheer number of calls received by the Hub’s helpline during the pandemic how much people wanted guidance as trading rules and regulations continually changed.
“I know that behind all the phone conversations, webinars and mentoring sessions are a team of dedicated business advisors and a lot of small and medium-size companies looking to invest in training and development to improve their overall performance.
“I would like to say thank you to each and every one of them as they are all playing their part in advancing Kent’s economic recovery.”
The Kent & Medway Growth Hub forms part of the wider South East Business Hub, SELEP’s overarching business support programme, which also covers local hubs in East Sussex and Essex, Southend and Thurrock.
For more information, and to sign up for regular updates, visit the KMGH at www.kentandmedwaygrowthhub.org.uk
Visit peernetworks.co.uk to find out more about b2b networking in Kent and Medway.
Finally, read more about the businesses who have been helped by the Kent and Medway Growth Hub here: southeastbusiness.org.uk/kent-medway/about-us/case-studies/