Make It York

Call for businesses to have their say in COVID-19 impact survey

York businesses from across all sectors are being urged to feed into a new impact survey which has been created by Make It York to create a deeper understanding of how the city’s business community has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.  Make It York are working closely with City of York Council and York BID to see how the issues raised in the survey can be taken forward at a national level, continuing the work that is being done to lobby government for additional support.

The survey aims to provide real insight into the impact of the outbreak with businesses from all sectors being encouraged to take part and share their experiences. The survey is completely confidential and is a chance for business owners to feed back on their concerns and the areas where they feel they need further support.

Survey results will be used to gauge the key issues facing the different sectors and the scale of businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Make It York also aim to use the information shared to tailor how business support is delivered to the York business community and adapt resource to the areas where it is most needed.  

More than 150 York businesses have already taken part in the survey from a variety of sectors including retail, creative and digital, tourism, IT and food and drink. Early indicators show that more than 40% of businesses believe it will take over six months for their market to recover once we return to normal life – and that the biggest concerns facing business owners in addition to the financial impact are worries around the decrease in consumer confidence, business continuity planning and fears of a global recession.

Sean Bullick, Managing Director at Make It York said, “We’ve been working hard over the last few weeks to provide vital support to local businesses across all sectors and offer guidance on the various funding options available. In addition to this though, we really want to gain a deeper understanding of how businesses across all sectors are being impacted in order for us to get a city-wide picture of the areas where we can best provide support.

“The survey is a crucial way for us to really understand the issues York businesses are facing and with these valuable insights we can adapt our resource in order to be as effective and efficient as possible in supporting the business community. This also includes working with City of York Council and York BID to lobby government on behalf of York’s business community in those areas where more support is urgently needed on a national level. Thank you to all the businesses who have already taken part to help us to start to gain this crucial insight across all sectors.”

Councillor Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning said: “I welcome this initiative from Make It York. We’re working together with our partners and the region’s LEPs to speak up for York’s businesses and secure more support.

 We have successfully lobbied for more support for York’s 12,000 self-employed businesses, and continue to seek further improvements to the business interruption loans. The council has created our own micro grants scheme to help those businesses which miss out on government support, and are supporting free advertising across the city’s media to connect those businesses still operating with customers across York.

“So we need businesses to tell us what their concerns so we can build the right short and long term help to see us through these extraordinary challenges.”

Andrew Lowson, Executive Director at York BID said: “We’d like to thank those who have already completed the survey and encourage those who have yet to do so. It is really important that we hear from as many businesses as possible so we can ensure that they are getting the information and support they need at this challenging time. It will also help us to plan as we look ahead to support a return to life after lockdown restrictions are lifted.”

Business owners can complete the Make It York survey here:

More information on the current support available for businesses is also available here:

Details of free advertising opportunities with local media are available at

For further information please contact:

Amy Goodman, Consumer Communications Manager


Ana Ignatova – Communications Executive


Notes to editors:

About Make It York

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Its mission is to grow the economic prosperity and wider wellbeing of York and its citizens. In practice, this means delivering a range of projects and programmes based around our four corporate strategic priorities.  These are:

  • City positioning and profile-raising
  • Inward Investment and network building
  • Ensuring an exciting city centre
  • Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Cultural Strategy

Make It York – Update from Sean Bullick, Managing Director

Make It York’s Managing Director, Sean Bullick, sets out the challenges currently facing the city, and the support that Make It York is busy putting in place.

This is a hugely challenging time for everyone. As we all know, we’re living through unprecedented times and with previously unimaginable levels of peacetime day-to-day uncertainty. We’re incredibly grateful for the amazing efforts of all those key workers who are continuing to serve throughout this period; NHS staff, teachers and carers, bus drivers, binmen, police, and supermarket staff – thank you for keeping us all safe, secure and fed.

At Make It York, our key role throughout this period is to help the business community to navigate the support options that are available to them locally and through government. We’re doing this with City of York Council and York BID and have produced the following guidance on the different funding options available. You can read our funding guide here.  

We are also running a cross-sector business survey to collate a city-wide picture of the issues facing York businesses, including access to bank loans and problems specific to the self-employed. This will allow us to focus our resources where they are most needed and to evidence these concerns at a national level with the government. I encourage businesses across all sectors to take part and all responses will be confidential:

Beyond all of this, we are continuing to champion the valuable work that York businesses do across all sectors, in particular where it relates to helping overcome the challenges presented by Covid 19. Please let us know if we can help highlight your business by contacting us on

Tourism is of course of huge value to the city – bringing in around £765 million each year and supporting over 24,000 jobs. We’re working hard to ensure that York remains at the forefront of people’s minds as their place of work, the city that they love, or the city they plan to one day visit – and as a world-class destination. Our team are working on promoting the wonderful work being done in the city by businesses to adapt to these challenging circumstances – whether that is through diversifying by offering delivery or online options, or through sharing inspirational content online. We are already looking at our plans for a ‘recovery’ campaign so we bounce back as quickly and strongly as possible one we are through this.

While we have had, like everyone else, to make the difficult decision not to go ahead with events such as Bloom, we are already looking ahead to plan for events that we can bring to the city later this year; what currently remains confidential, but I can confirm they will be new and very York!

Talking of which, we have turned our annual Visit York Tourism Awards into a ‘virtual ceremony’ this year. Working with Minster FM (which as all the necessary tech!) we will ensure tourism businesses across the city still get the recognition they deserve for all the hard work they have put in over the last twelve months. A huge thank you to our sponsors and partners, including Minster FM who have supported us to ensure the ceremony can still go ahead.

Finally, if you think we can help at all, please get in touch: we are here to help and support and the various MIY teams have areas of real expertise as well as experience working on other crises such as the 2008 financial crash.

Our website also includes a dedicated page outlining all the current support available and links to the City of York Council and UK Government websites with further detail:

Make It York: Covid-19 Update – Bloom! Statement 31.03.2020

Make It York has today announced that Bloom! – York’s festival of horticulture -planned for 20th-28th June across the city will not be going ahead this year as a result of the escalating uncertainties surrounding the impact of COVID-19.

Sean Bullick, Managing Director of Make It York said: “It is with deep sadness that we have made this decision, but ultimately it is the right thing to do given the uncertainties that we all face as a result of the ongoing coronavirus situation.

“We have had discussions with our festival main sponsor, York BID and our other valued partners and sponsors across the city and we are all in agreement that this is, unfortunately, a necessary step we must take at this time.

“Ultimately we want to ensure that as many people as possible can experience the festival and see our beautiful city blooming with flowers and colour. The Make It York team will therefore work with York BID and other partners to look at how we can bring Bloom! back in 2021 and cultivate another exciting programme of activity for residents and visitors.”

Further details will be announced later in the year.

Make It York: Covid-19 Update – Shambles Market 24.03.2020

Make It York have today announced that the Shambles Market will be closed to all but essential fresh food traders from Tuesday 24th March until furth​er notice. This is to ensure public safety and slow the spread of COVID-19. This move follows updated government policy announced on Monday 23rd March.

Special provision will be made for those traders supplying fresh food, with social distancing measures put in place.

Opening hours are set to be 10am until 5pm and any further updates will be shared on the Shambles Market Facebook and Twitter accounts.

All measures are under continuous review, and Make It York will follow the advice given from local and national government over the coming days.

Open Letter to the Government from City of York Council, Make It York and Cultural Leaders

The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
100 Parliament St

Dear Secretary of State,

We, the representatives of the City of York Council, Make It York, and the Cultural Leaders of the city, are deeply concerned about the risks faced during the COVID-19 pandemic by the cultural, creative and voluntary sectors, and in particular by the freelance and self-employed people working in these sectors. Together, we represent the collections, combined arts, dance, libraries, literature, museums, music, theatre and visual arts within the city of York.

We welcome the positive measures already announced by the government to support our sectors, including loan and cash grant options and the commitment to pay up to 80% of employees’ salaries, as well as business rate relief for theatres and music venues, and the tireless work by Arts Council England, and the many other organisations and individuals donating and giving their time.

However, more desperately needs to be done.

While the package of support for employers and employees is an extraordinary and most welcome intervention, a third of the UK’s creative workforce is self-employed, and the freelance artists, creative practitioners and other workers in our sectors will be seriously affected by loss of income due to the pandemic. The Creative Industries Federation survey last week showed that 60% of freelance respondents estimate their income will decrease by over 50% in 2020 due to this crisis.

The cultural, creative and voluntary sectors are the life-blood of our communities. They support our wellbeing, enrich our lives and have vast economic benefits. Nationally, the creative industries contributed £111.7bn to the UK economy in 2018, growing five times faster than the wider economy. There are at least 62 professional arts and heritage organisations operating in the city and over 140 creative enterprises. Together with York’s universities and colleges, they are dependent on developing creative participants and cultural consumers to sustain their businesses. As most of these organisations have moved their models towards a greater reliance on earned income, their margins are far narrower than ten years ago, and much more fragile during economic downturn. With a significant proportion operating as charities, they also cannot access government loan funding.

These organisations in turn are dependent upon the active participation in the cultural economy of freelance and self-employed workers. If these workers are not supported to survive the crisis they will not be able to return to activity afterwards and our organisations will not be able to resume the service they provide to our communities, and most importantly, to the vulnerable people who rely on the voluntary sector for support, especially in times of crisis.

Guarantees to protect the income of freelance and self-employed artists, creative practitioners and other workers are now urgently required, to enable them to access support equal to employees, to continue working in and supporting the cultural, creative and voluntary sectors within York and across the UK.

We call on you now for your support in this critical matter and we stand by to help however we can.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure & Communities, City of York Council
Sean Bullick, Managing Director, Make It York
Reyahn King, Chief Executive, York Museums Trust, Chair of the Cultural Leaders Group

On behalf of:

Andrew Morrison, Chief Executive Officer, York Civic Trust
Ben Porter, Co-Director, York Creatives
Charlie Croft, Assistant Director (Communities and Culture), York City Council
Cherie Federico, Director, Aesthetica Magazine
Chris Bailey, Clerk and UNESCO Focal Point, The Guild of Media Arts
Chris Edwards, Chair, REACH (York Cultural Education Partnership)
Chris Sherrington, on behalf of York Music Venues Network
David Jennings, Chief Executive Officer, York Archaeological Trust
Delma Tomlin, Director, National Centre for Early Music
Drew Wintie-Hawkins, Artistic Director, York Dance Space
Esther Richardson, Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive, Pilot Theatre
Fiona Williams, Chief Executive, York Explore
Hannah Wintie-Hawkins, Artistic Director, York Dance Space
Helen Apsey, Head of Culture and Wellbeing, Make It York
Joan Concannon, Director of External Relations, University of York
Kathryn Blacker, Chapter Steward, York Minster
Lydia Cottrell, Co-Director, SLAP
Mandy Smith, Executive Producer and Joint Chief Executive, Pilot Theatre
Marc Fleetham, Director of Business Development and Knowledge Exchange, York St John University
Rachel Crocombe-Lane, Theatre Director, Grand Opera House, Ambassador Theatre Group
Rebecca Carr, Co-Director, York Creatives
Rose Kent, Creative Director, Accessible Arts & Media
Sarah Maltby, Director of Attractions, York Archaeological Trust
Sophie Unwin, Co-Director, SLAP
Tom Higham, Creative Director, York Mediale
Darren Moore, General Manager, York Barbican
Tom Bird, Executive Director, York Theatre Royal
Ian Murphy, Director, HIDden Theatre
Nathan Bargate, Director, HIDden Theatre. 

Please contact Make It York’s Head of Culture & Wellbeing if would you like to add your signature to this letter.

Make It York: COVID-19 Update – Shambles Market 18.03.20

Whilst a significant number of traders yesterday requested that Make It York closed Shambles Market as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, a number of others have since come forward wanting to continue to operate during this time.

Make It York staff are therefore contacting traders to see how this can be best facilitated while complying with government guidance and public health requirements.

We understand that is an unprecedented time of uncertainty for everyone and our aim is to do everything we can to support traders during this difficult time.

Make It York: COVID-19 Update

Following the latest Government advice relating to the global outbreak of COVID-19, Make It York has taken the decision to implement a number of measures to ensure the safety of our staff, residents, Shambles Market traders and visitors.

  • As of 18th March until further notice, the Make It York team will be working remotely.  The team will be contactable by email and will continue to provide support to members and businesses across the city. All enquiries regarding the business support available can be emailed through to  and any Visit York membership queries can be sent to
  • The Visitor Information Centre will temporarily close from 5PM on Tuesday 17th March 2020 until further notice. An email service will still be available to customers via and the website will continue to be updated with the latest information.
  • Shambles Market will temporarily close as of 5PM on Tuesday 17th March 2020 until further notice. All traders will be contacted by the team with further details over the coming days and the email will continue to be monitored during this time for any trader queries. With the closure of the market, all licensed stall holders will not incur charges during this time.

We understand this is a time of unprecedented uncertainty for businesses across all sectors and  Make It York are committed to continue to work with partners at City of York Council and York BID to provide support and guidance during this time.

Please see below the latest guidance outlining what government measures are available to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

The Make It York team will continue to be in regular contact with our members, traders and other key stakeholders over the coming days to provide ongoing updates.

It is with great regret that we are implementing these measures – however the safety of our staff, visitors and traders is of paramount importance.  We thank all our members, partners and traders in advance for their support and understanding during this time.  

Business Guidance –

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs
  • a Business Rate Relief for small businesses and pubs
  • small business grant funding of £3,000 for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees

Legislation will be brought forward to allow small- and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • this refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19
  • employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
  • employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note
  • eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force
  • the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible

Support for businesses who pay business rates

Business Rates retail discount in England to 100% for the 2020 to 2021 tax year for properties below £51,000 rateable value.

The relief will also be expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors in response to COVID-19.

Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

Those businesses eligible for the newly expanded retail discount and/or the new pubs discount may need to apply to their local authority to receive the discount.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority. Guidance for local authorities on the application of the expanded retail discount will be published by 20 March

Support for businesses who pay little or no business rates

The government will provide an additional £2.2 billion funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £3,000 to business currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch in a matter of weeks to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £1.2 million in value. This new guarantee will initially support up to £1 billion of lending on top of current support offered through the British Business Bank.

Support for businesses paying tax

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.


Businesses should check with their insurance provider if they are covered. Many businesses are unlikely to be covered as most business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property, which will exclude pandemics. Some businesses may have purchased a specific add on relating to notifiable diseases, but some of these will still specify damage to the building. Some businesses may have purchased supply chain or denial of access cover which may meet their needs in this case.

For more information on the support available to businesses during this time contact the Make It York team on

Notes to Editor

Make It York

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business.  The company’s remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, festivals and events, business support and inward investment.

One of Make It York’s strategic aims is to promote York as a brilliant place to do business, helping to support business growth and innovation across a range of business sectors, such as financial & professional services, rail and high value manufacturing and to stimulate greater inward investment.

For further information please contact:

Amy Goodman – Consumer Communications Manager

Katie Parsons – Corporate Communications Manager


Ana Ignatova – Communications Executive


New Appointments at Make It York strengthen the direction for city ambitions

York’s Destination Management Organisation, Make It York, announces the arrival of their new Head of Culture & Wellbeing and Head of Commercial & Revenue Generation. Louise Saw also joins the team as Business Growth Manager.

New appointments at Make It York complete a refreshed line-up for the city’s destination management organisation, as it strives to achieve its mission of growing York’s economic prosperity and wider wellbeing. Helen Apsey has joined as Head of Culture & Wellbeing and Russell McCartney has joined as Head of Commercial & Revenue Generation. Louise Saw has also joined the team as the second SME Growth Manager in the York district. In partnership with Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Louise will work with SMEs to identify business needs and to deliver a programme of business support from Make It York, the LEP and partners. The role is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Helen joins the organisation from Nordoff Robbins, the UK’s largest independent music therapy charity. As Head of Policy and Impact, she led on public affairs activity for the charity, who are a leading voice for music in health and wellbeing, championing the life-changing impact their work can have for people affected by life-limiting illness, disability, or isolation. Prior to this Helen worked at the Health Innovation Network, the Academic Health Science Network for South London, and before this at New Zealand Red Cross.

Delivery of York’s forthcoming Culture Strategy is the driving force behind the new role, as the city aims to maximise the diversity and visibility of its cultural offer. Speaking of her new appointment, Helen said, “I’m excited to be joining Make It York, in what is a totally new role for the organisation, and to be working with people, communities and organisations from across the cultural, creative, and wellbeing sectors to implement the Culture Strategy. Culture can have an immensely positive impact on people’s lives, on how they see the world, and on their health and wellbeing, and I’m honoured to be working in a job than can positively contribute to this. I’m also really looking forward to exploring how we can raise the profile of York’s outstanding arts, culture and heritage offer and of its incredible status as a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts.”

Russell joins Make It York with a remit to drive new commercial revenue streams and open wider collaborative opportunities that will ultimately boost the organisation’s investment back into the city. Russell brings a strong background in business development across a variety of sectors from high tech to transportation, alongside working with new start-up firms in the events sector, both in the UK and further afield in Japan and France.”

Sharing the ambitions of his new role, Russell commented “I’m excited to join a progressive organisation seeking to further contribute to an already vibrant city. It’s an excellent opportunity to help develop investment in York, working with local stakeholders, and residents along with the wider business community. My ultimate goal is to help foster a fantastic environment which helps to fuel further civic pride, wellbeing and wealth.”

Louise Saw has joined the team with over 10 years’ experience helping businesses to grow anddevelop. Louise brings with her a strong background in business support, in particular in training and skills, after she managed the LEP’s Skills Service which helped businesses access grants and source training. She is also experienced in working with the Department for International Trade (DIT) on inward and outward trade missions to help businesses enter new markets.

These new appointments complete the new team at Make It York as the company refocused its strategic priorities, following Sean Bullick’s appointment as Managing Director in early 2019. They also come shortly after new Chair of Make It York Greg Dyke took up his position from 1 January 2020.

Sean Bullick, Managing Director of Make It York said: “I’m delighted to welcome Helen, Russell and Louise to the Make It York team, as their appointments signify new opportunities at a really exciting time for the city, and for Make It York. A business is only as good as its people, and these new recruits are absolutely first rate. Amongst other things, they bring valuable professional experience and perspective from having worked in Japan, New Zealand and France, as well as in the UK. They will play a vital role in the delivery of Make It York’s ambitious programme and I look forward to working with them.”

Make It York will be sharing its future plans at its annual stakeholder event to be held in June. ENDS

Notes to Editor

Make It York

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business.  The company’s remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, festivals and events, business support and inward investment.

European Regional Growth Fund (ERDF)

The Business Growth Manager role is funded by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community.

One of Make It York’s strategic aims is to promote York as a brilliant place to do business, helping to support business growth and innovation across a range of business sectors, such as financial & professional services, rail and high value manufacturing and to stimulate greater inward investment.

Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership works with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to help businesses in our region grow and become more productive.

The Combined Authority works in partnership with local councils and businesses to ensure that everyone in our region benefits from a strong, successful economy and a modern, accessible transport network. By championing the region’s interests nationally and internationally, we secure the investment to deliver better transport and housing, help businesses to grow and create jobs. 

We want our region to be recognised globally as a strong, successful economy where everyone can build great businesses, careers and lives. For more information visit

For further information please contact:

Katie Parsons – Corporate Communications Manager

Direct Line: 01904 554436


Amy Goodman – Consumer Communications Manager      

Direct Line: 01904 554451


Images: Individual images of the new appointments available here

Sign In


Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address, you will receive a link to create a new password via email.

Skip to content