Case Studies

Culture in Lockdown

Lockdown

We have seen culture and creativity playing an even greater part in many peoples’ lives during the covid-19 pandemic. Artists and organisations have responded to the crisis with collective and community spirit; launching initiatives online and on social media, and through public participation. Here are just a few examples:

York Civic Trust created a gallery of Blue Badges to honour key workers.

York Museums Trust created the viral sensation, the #CuratorBattle on Twitter. They also invited people to explore their vast collections from home with their Museums from home online collections.

York Theatre Royal created Collective Acts, a programme of activities and digital events, to help their community stay connected. They also worked in collaboration with BBC Radio York to bring the York Mystery Plays to life on radio.

York Creatives’ Facebook page – York’s grassroots creative community. (including Mick Liversidge’s Outdoor Poem series)

REACH and IVE ran the Bags of Creativity programme, which supported vulnerable and disadvantaged young people’s learning in York.

York Dance Space have created a video for #REFRESH21 with some wonderful young people in lockdown (who created everything from the movement to the poetry).

Culture

Post-lockdown, the culture sector innovated, to create socially distanced events that people could enjoy safely in the city. Find out more:

York Theatre Royal’s Pop-Up on the Patio.

Park Bench Theatre’s Rowntrees Park performances.

National Centre for Early Music and Music Venue Alliance’s Songs Under the Skies.

made digital

Find out more about the incredible digital activities and virtual content created by the cultural and creative sector, to help people stay connected to the arts and heritage during the pandemic:

Case Study: BrewRound

BrewRound is a start-up e-commerce business established by co-founders Christopher Bowling and Jordan Newton, who’ve been developing an app for “click & collect” coffee since autumn 2019. The app, which aims to support independent coffee shops and offer easy way for customers to purchase brews from their favourite coffee shops, will launch in November this year.  

The idea for the app came from the founders’ personal experience – often travelling for work pre-covid, they’ve noticed the tendency to purchase coffee from well-known chain brands like Starbucks and Costa due to the convenience offered by the brands’ app that allowed pre-ordering and picking-up drinks. They wanted to help independent coffee shops to not be left behind, by bringing the technology to them.  

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the development of the app, and although it brought challenges in the form of establishing the contact with independent coffee shop owners, it has also put a spotlight on the need to support those local businesses.  

Chris and Jordan have recently been introduced to Simon Middleton, Business Growth Manager at Make It York, who has invited them to join the York Professionals networking group, helping to establish new contacts among the York’s business community. Simon has also directed them to the available funding and grant opportunities and has made an introduction to the Business Editor at York Press. This will help BrewRound with the coming launch of the app – to spread the news and get more independent coffee shops on board with the initiative.  

Chris Bowling, co-founder of BrewRound, said: “I believe there is never the “best” time to start a new business – there will always be opportunities as well as challenges. With my background is in e-commerce and digital marketing, and my love for independent coffee shops, I wanted to offer independent cafes a virtual shopfront that will help them compete with large chain brands by bringing in new customers and keeping them loyal.” 

Jordan Newton, co-founder of BrewRound, added: “Networking is the most useful and successful way of meeting new people and establishing business connections. Simon Middleton was incredibly helpful in making introductions for us to York’s business community. Virtual networking that became a ‘new normal’ in the time of pandemic, has made it more accessible – many networking groups have opened up connecting people from everywhere in the country. This is very helpful for us, as the BrewRound app will be available UK-wide and after initial launch in York, we aim to expand nationally.”   

In this fast-changing environment, BrewRound believe the next step for coffee is technology. Easy and simple ordering, discovery of great new coffee shops, united rewards system – all of which to be conveniently available wherever you are. The BrewRound app is due to launch early November. 

To find out more about BrewRound visit brewround.com

Case Study: The Yorkshire Tour Guide

The Yorkshire Tour Guide : A Bespoke Experience

Visit York member, The Yorkshire Tour Guide who offer both private walking tours of York and chauffeur guided tours of Yorkshire are back operating their bespoke tour experiences with new measures in place to ensure both the safety and comfort of guests.

The team is led by Howard Smelt-Webb who is from a farming background (the famous vet, James Herriot (Alf Wight) used to be the vet for the family farm!) and after being a police officer in York for thirty years has intimate local knowledge of the city and its hidden gems. With tour bookings cancelled following the Covid-19 outbreak, Howard and his team have since adapted their business to develop their bespoke walking tours in York – providing a healthy, outdoor experience for visitors to enjoy plenty of Yorkshire fresh air!

A former police officer, Howard explains where the idea of him becoming a tour guide began, “In 2008 we did Bed and Breakfast from our farmhouse in Lower Wensleydale – I often used to cook breakfast in my police uniform and then go off to work! One of our guests who was from Norfolk had never seen the dry stone walls that the Yorkshire Dales are so famous for – so on this particular day I put together a tour itinerary for this guest and his wife with recommendations on what to see and where to go – they came back that evening saying they’d had a great day and suggested that when I retired from the police I should start a tour guide company … the seed was sown!”

30 years later, Howard started a luxury chauffeur company specialising in tours of Yorkshire and this has evolved since with the team now offering both private and bespoke walking tours of York and chauffeur guided tours of Yorkshire. A range of vehicles are available so all group sizes can be catered for.

Howard continues “I enjoy meeting new people and having the opportunity to show people around York and Yorkshire – we have had a range of guests over the years from both the U.K. and abroad, from all walks of life and has sometimes included Hollywood actors, politicians, rock stars, television / sports personalities and high profile business people. The key thing we offer guests is discretion together with a totally bespoke and flexible service tailored to individual requirements.”

One such ‘high profile’ guest visited York in July. Howard picks up the story – “On a Thursday lunchtime, we received a telephone call from a PA in London asking if we were available to provide a bespoke chauffeur guided / walking tour of York that coming Sunday. The guest would be flying up from London in his helicopter with his security team. After confirming details and liaising with his security, we did a recce of the proposed tour route the day before. We had a very flexible itinerary which could be modified on the day if required and took covid restrictions into account. Thankfully the weather was kind to us on the day itself. The guests flew into the outskirts of York by helicopter – we collected the guest’s party with our Jaguar XJL joining other security vehicles for the journey into the city centre.

York was at its best and the guests were thrilled with their visit which included a walk along the city walls, a tour round York Minster, a traditional Sunday lunch of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding together with a walk round York’s historic streets. We then got back in the cars and took a scenic route back to the helicopter via the Knavesmire.” Howard concludes “It was a great day – everything went very smoothly and most importantly of all, the guests really enjoyed themselves and want to return to York as soon as possible.”

Howard and the team have implemented a number of new safety measures including for chauffeur driven tours ensuring face masks and hand sanitiser are provided for the drivers & guests, as well as air purifiers in the vehicles and an enhanced internal cleaning programme. With a range of vehicles available, consideration is given to size of the group and which vehicle is best, whilst also ensuring that guests feel comfortable and enjoy their experience.

Looking ahead, Howard’s team is expanding with a new guide joining this month bringing a wealth of local knowledge which will help enhance the tour guest’s experience and extra historical expertise from his current studies at the University of York in Archaeology . Howard also continues to increase his already significant knowledge on York’s history by taking part in a new University of York course focusing on ‘York:From Romans to the Present Day’ this month.


Howard and his team are welcoming enquiries and bookings for future tours and more information is available here:  www.theyorkshiretourguide.co.uk

Case Study: Skillsforge

Skillsforge, based at York Science Park is an EdTech company offering software solutions to universities. Established over 15 years ago, Skillsforge was created by a within a University of York research project to address the lack of effective progression monitoring and supervision for postgraduate research programmes. It now works with over 24 universities across the UK and Australia, and is currently looking to expand into Canada, New Zealand and Ireland.

Make It York has been a part of Skillsforge’s business journey for over two years. They are looking to develop the business with the aim of leveraging their investment against some possible grant funding, the Make It York Business Team were able to point Skillsforge in the right direction and towards the most appropriate funding for their business needs.

Over the past two years, Skillsforge have been supported by Make It York through several successful grant funding applications:

  • Three successful applications through the AD:VENTURE Programme. These allowed the business to make investments in small, capital items such a laptops and software and which meant that earlier this year as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Skillsforge were ready and prepared to quickly adapt in operating the business remotely
  • Two successful applications for Digital Enterprise Funding. This funding helped them with their internet and telephony connections as they moved into new offices in the Innovation Centre at York Science Park. They were also able to access support from specialist business consultants during the COVID-19 pandemic to enhance their software solutions
  • Qualified for two out of three opportunities offered through SparkFund which has allowed SkillsForge to significantly enhance their product and apply for international standard accreditations such as ISO 27001 and ISO9001 Certifications.
  • A successful application was also made to the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DIT) Tradeshow Access Programme which helped to gain essential market knowledge and make new contacts overseas.

In recent months, as well as grant-funding Skillsforge were signposted to the ‘Investment Readiness Programme ’ – a programme which helps get your business ready for investment and working towards building a successful pitch and Pitch Deck presentation through a series of guided webinar sessions. At the end of the process Skillsforge will also benefit from some one-on-one professional support from a high-growth entrepreneurial coaching business. They are potentially able to benefit from the new incoming Connecting Innovation programme, provided by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Skillsforge is continuing to work with Make It York as it seeks out new opportunities for future growth and development of their business.


“As a business we’ve always been aware that grant funding was out there to help and support growth and development, but it was about finding out where it was, how to access it and also finding the right fit for our business needs.

Being supported through the process and being able to achieve success offered huge benefits for us. As we were able to invest in making sure we could continue to operate Skillsforge remotely, we were ahead of the curve as lockdown beckoned earlier this year, due to COVID-19, and we were working efficiently from a virtual office a week before the official lockdown was announced.

We haven’t always received huge pots of money but it has given us streams of income at times when we have needed it.

Applying for grant funding can often seem daunting, with the thought of long and complex applications, but as long as you have a good product and fit the eligibility criteria, I have always found it to be a very efficient and the process is often easier than expected. Having the support of a Business Growth Manager from Make It York, to guide you through it and direct you towards the right grants for your business, makes it even easier.

However, business support isn’t just about getting help applying for and being successful for grant funding applications. Make It York have been able to put us in touch with the right people, and direct me on the right route to grow my business. Through Louise Saw’s recommendations I’ve made beneficial connections with the Knowledge Transfer Network, been offered tailored business advice and been able to expand my business skills on funded training opportunities like ‘Investment Readiness’.

If you are a small to medium sized business in York looking to grow and develop your business then you are crazy if you are not making use of a Business Growth Manager at Make It York!”

Gary Fawcett

CEO, Skillsforge

Case Study: Shambles Kitchen Asado

Shambles Kitchen, a unique York-based business which has both a sandwich shop on the Shambles and a burrito smokehouse on the Shambles Market Food Court, has recently branched out with a series of asado themed pop-up events which have proved immensely popular.

With Covid-19 impacting on their wedding catering and events side of the business, Shambles Kitchen have been looking for ways to diversify and try new things whilst also maintaining their existing business at the shop and the Shambles Market Food Court stall.

Holding their first pop-up event on Shambles Market, the team served up a delicious four course Argentinian themed meal, cooked all day using only fire. Using only local produce, the ingredients were sourced from other Shambles Market traders – including Swains Butchers, Cross of York Fishmongers and the fresh vegetable traders. This included a fish, veg and meat courses of cedar plank salmon, rescoldo beetroot and lamb a la crux and a dessert of caramelised peaches and mascarpone.

The event was hugely popular, with the hundred tickets for the two nights selling out in just twenty-four hours. The team worked hard to implement safety measures to ensure social distancing at all times, with a thorough risk assessment taking place. Measures included limiting ticket numbers to fifty to ensure spacing between guests, a table service only system and a safety briefing at the start of each night.

Simon Long, Owner of Shambles Kitchen said, “With the impact of Covid-19 meaning a lot of our wedding catering and events have been cancelled, we were keen to try something new by putting on own events in the city. The idea was inspired by our love of Asado and Argentinian food and wanting to do something a bit different!

We had amazing feedback following the initial event at Shambles Market both about the quality of the food and the overall experience. The safety measures we put in place worked really well so that everyone could just relax and enjoy the evening.

 Since the event at Shambles Market we’ve done some further pop-ups as the Sol Ast tipi – continuing with the Argentinian theme on Fridays and also doing Sunday roasts. Both of these have been really popular and it’s been great to see how supportive local people have been of these events.  We would love to do more of these at other outdoor venues around the city – so watch this space!”

Russell McCartney, Head of Commercial at Make It York said, “We were delighted for Shambles Market to host such a unique event which had a real community feel. The market is an ideal location for such events and it was great to see local businesses working together – with Shambles Market traders providing the locally sourced produce for the night.

Our market traders and independent businesses all support local jobs – and money spent with these businesses and events supports local families and our city more widely. It’s been particularly pleasing to see residents keen to support their city centre and repay Shambles Market traders who had stayed open during lockdown to serve the city.

Looking ahead we would love to see more of these kind of events taking place at the market – bringing a new audience to the space and supporting local traders and businesses across the city.”

Details of the upcoming Shambles Kitchen events can be found here. In the meantime, you can also visit their sandwich shop on the Shambles and try their new creation – the ‘Guy Fawkes’ – including smoked brisket, blow-torched cheese, gherkins, Shambles Mayo, Sriracha and chipotle gunpowder.

For more information visit www.shambleskitchen.co.uk/ and keep up to date with the latest news on Twitter and Instagram.

Case Study: Alcuin Lodge Guest House

Reopening success for Alcuin Lodge Guest House

Alcuin Lodge, an independent guest house, located in York’s city centre reopened last month  is seeing hugely positive feedback from customers on the additional safety measures they’ve put in place. The guest house which is a Visit York member, has recently been named in the top 25 B&Bs and Inns in the UK in the 2020 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best awards based on their positive customer reviews.

Run by Darren Scott-Shaw and his husband Mark for the last eight years, the guest house closed during lockdown, with the couple using the time proactively to make improvements to the property and plan for a safe reopening.

The guest house opened its doors again to customers at the beginning of August, with the couple taking time to implement robust new safety measures to ensure visitors have a comfortable and relaxing stay whilst also being reassured that social distancing is in place.

The measures include reducing the numbers of rooms they offer to allow for more space per person, a one-way system on the stairs, rigorous additional cleaning processes and new systems in place for check-in and breakfast service. Enhancing their already five-star food hygiene rating, the couple have improved their breakfast offering by developing their own online ordering app for guests to pre-order breakfast. Breakfast is then served in their redesigned dining room where each table has an individual cabinet for cutlery and condiments.

Darren Scott-Shaw said, “It was important for us when we were planning our reopening that we took the time to really get things right for our customers. We pride ourselves on our customer service and the personal touches which make a stay at Alcuin Lodge so special, and we were keen to maintain these high standards with the new safety measures we were putting in place. From freshly baked goods placed in individual tins in each room to taking guests breakfast orders and bringing them to the table side each day, we’ve worked hard to maintain our personal and friendly service.

“It’s been wonderful to see both our regular customers returning and to welcome new visitors to the city, and we’ve been delighted with the feedback we’ve been receiving from guests. It’s great to hear that the measures we’ve put in place have helped people feel really comfortable    in order to enjoy their stay and feel at home.

“Finding out that we had been named in the top twenty-five B&Bs in the UK in the 2020 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best awards just as we were about to re-open is   a fantastic boost. As it’s all based on customer reviews, it makes it even more special. We love welcoming people into our home and we look forward to having more guests stay with us over the coming months and experience a visit to the beautiful city of York.”

Mark added, “York has such a range of accommodation to suit all needs but we think that staying in a guest house gives visitors an experience similar to staying with friends so we’re able to provide a real York welcome”.

In addition to being ranked at number 22 in the the top 25 B&Bs and Inns in the UK in the 2020 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best awards, the guest house is also ranked in the top one per cent of hotels worldwide in the B&B category. Read their Tripadvisor reviews here.

For more information visit http://www.alcuinlodge.com/ or call 01904 629837 to book directly.

Case Study: Propelo

Propelo, based at York Science Park, is a successful business providing high-quality interim support to the education sector, nationwide.  Propelo work with schools, multi-academy trusts and local authorities during times of change offering expert level support in school leadership. This support is targeted and suited to the needs of the individual schools and projects. They also offer full-service recruitment support when a school or trust needs to attract new talent within its leadership team, working alongside governors and local authorities to get the right fit and overseeing this crucial process.

Propelo was referred to Make It York at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown period.  The unforeseen disruption to schools created an unclear plan of what lay ahead.  Louise Saw, Business Growth Manager listened to what the business was facing and was able to guide Propelo forward with clear signposting to the help they needed, opening up new networks, contacts and funding opportunities.  

With recommendation and support from Louise, Propelo applied with success to the Digital Resilience Voucher Scheme, offered through the Digital Enterprise project. This grant was to help businesses mitigate the effects of COVID-19.  They received match funding of £4.5k, allowing them to invest in and improve the infrastructure of the business. This provided warranties for IT equipment, new machines and access to software that improved how the business works remotely, enabling them to develop the efficiency of the business for the future. Louise has also provided connections and contacts to help support Propelo as the business grows.

Their profile within this essential sector and access to business support has enabled Propelo to weather the challenges faced early in the year, with a strong flow of new projects secured for the autumn.    

Propelo is continuing to work with Make It York as it looks to access further funding to develop their IT infrastructure and readiness for future growth.


“2020 has presented a real turning point for Propelo.  Working in the education sector, we faced an unprecedented situation at the start of lockdown with the threat of national school closures causing significant disruption to our operations.

We were in a position where we had applied for COVID-19 grant funding which hadn’t been successful and left feeling that there was no support available to aid us through this time of challenge. I was referred to Make It York through a colleague at York Science Park.  It was reassuring to find someone at the end of the phone who listened to the reality of what our business was facing, and which gave me an outlet to talk through the issues we were working through.

Louise provided clear signposting to grant funding that would help our business. Without her guidance and support we wouldn’t have accessed the Digital Resilience Funding, which gave us the opportunity to invest in making the business digitally resilient and much better equipped to continue working remotely.

This year has reframed every way we work, and we are fortunate to be in a better position at the other side of it all. This period of time has made many organisations in the sector think about their plans for the future – and that has led to us picking up a range of new projects and we’ve seen a strong flow of new opportunities. 

Our business journey is continually evolving, and it is reassuring to have access to support and guidance with clear signposting that ensures we find the right fit for our business.”

Phil Watt

Director, Propelo

Case Study: One to One Recruitment

One to One Recruitment is a full-service recruitment agency based in York, helping small and medium-sized companies hire the best talent for their businesses, as well as finding jobseekers inspiring places to work. They offer a range of solutions for the recruitment of temporary and permanent staff from their Fixed-Fee package to an all-encompassing 360° Service and Senior Appointment Service.

Established by Clare Hutchison 10 years ago, this owner-managed micro-business has a long-standing business support relationship with Make It York. The team have worked closely with Clare as she has applied for grant funding, helped with signposting to relevant information, making tailored business introductions and more recently, guiding Clare through a period of change as the business was forced to explore a new direction due to the impact of COVID-19.

An invitation and steer to join the recent Leeds City Region Peer to Peer Workshops from Simon Middleton, Make It York’s Business Growth Manager, led to a new turning point for One to One Recruitment as the connections made have led to the launch of their new Outplacement Service. The host of the peer to peer session was a recruitment specialist, someone who in recent months has become a mentor to Clare as she explored new ways to pivot the business as a result of the recruitment standstill during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This new service brings a whole different area of revenue-generating activity for One to One Recruitment and has allowed the business to develop and move forward in this unprecedented and challenging business landscape.

The new Outplacement Service will support employers to help those employees they are forced to let go due to the economic downturn – the best chance of securing a new position rapidly. One to One Recruitment will run practical and intensive job-seeking coaching workshops on behalf of the employer. For some, they may not have reviewed and updated their CV in many years, have little understanding of where and how to look for a new job or how to perform well in an interview. These sessions will give guidance and support at a time they need it most and enable the business to focus on revival and survival.

Clare has also become a Board Member for the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership – the first micro-business owner to be appointed.


“My business relationship with Make It York over the past five years has always been very proactive and has brought opportunities my way which I would have been unlikely to pursue without the backing and support of the team. I was able to cut through a very detailed Digital Funding Grant application with Simon, helping pull together the relevant information I would need and then going above and beyond to keep on top of the process on my behalf – saving me valuable time and pursuing something I may have given up on. This grant helped me set up a much needed CRM system for my business.

I’ve always felt that there is a thorough understanding of me and my business and what I wanted to achieve, with very tailored and very relevant business support and information proactively sent through to me, and the time taken to signpost me to opportunities that I felt confident I can invest my time in. Networking opportunities shared have always offered a real synergy with my business goals and offered mutual benefits to work together.

The recent Peer to Peer sessions have been invaluable, opening doors I may not have come across at such a timely turning point for One to One Recruitment. COVID-19 brought a halt to recruitment and I needed to find a way to pivot my business offering. The extra nudge from Simon to attend these virtual sessions certainly paid off and my continued relationships from these are still proving fruitful for me and my business.

The business support landscape is vast and there is so much out there to be tapped into, but as a business owner you don’t always have a huge amount of additional time to find the best route for you and your business. This is where Make It York have stepped in for me and navigated me through to find the right support to develop my business and being a vital sounding board for my business journey.”

Clare Hutchison, Managing Director

One to One Recruitment

Case Study: City Cruises York

Reopening Success for City Cruises York

As lockdown restrictions have been eased, City Cruises York – which had to close down during this period – have reopened with new COVID-safe measures, seeing positive ticket sales and fantastic customer feedback.

A series of new measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of all passengers – including ensuring all seating is socially distanced by marking off rows, new signage, hand sanitising units, new cleaning processes and a track and trace system. City Cruises have been awarded both the Visit England ‘Good to Go’ mark and the ‘AA COVID Confident’ accreditation – showing they have carried out the rigorous safety checks and risk assessments needed for visitors to be fully confident with the measures that have been adopted for their safety.

City Cruises York, who are Visit York members, have now fully resumed operations of their sightseeing tours throughout the day, seven days a week. Pre-booking online is encouraged for the one-hour cruise, which takes passengers along the Ouse with a fascinating sightseeing commentary. Dining cruises are now also back running on Saturdays, Sunday and Wednesdays with new systems and hygiene procedures in places in line with social distancing guidelines. More information and details on how to pre-book can be found on www.citycruisesyork.com/

“The response we have had from customers on the changes has been incredibly positive – with feedback showing that people feel really safe and secure when on board. We are very pleased with how ticket sales have gone since reopening – the changes have meant we have a new on-board capacity but we are already starting to see the boats filling up. This last week we were up to 99% full and we are seeing a definite trend week-on-week of an increase in customers.

“We are also seeing a big increase in bookings online – with this up 150% from last year – and it is great to see that people are planning ahead – with our forward bookings for the summer looking really encouraging. Our self-drive boats are becoming increasingly popular as they lend themselves particularly well to social distancing – providing passengers the perfect opportunity to relax, have a picnic and enjoy the sights of York with their family and friends. Our recent booking stats also show that we have a higher proportion of passengers from York which is great as we really want to encourage local residents to come and explore their home city from a different perspective on the river.

“Just before lockdown we received Visit England’s Welcome Award for outstanding customer service – this is something we are incredibly proud of and want to build on as we return. Above all we remain committed to operating safely and providing a welcoming and safe environment for passengers – and we are open to continuing to adapt our procedures based on customer feedback.

“Looking ahead, we are considering ways we can plan for seasonal events with social distancing in place, and whilst it is too early to confirm details as yet, we are incredibly confidents that we will be able to offer a different but imaginative approach to on-board entertainment. Over the coming months we will also be continuing to develop our partnerships with other businesses across the city – looking to launch combination boat and bus tour tickets with City Sightseeing and Golden Tours. More widely we will also be looking at how we can collaborate with Visit York and other organisations across the city to be part of the overall marketing activity that helps to drive visitors and residents to explore York again.”

Mark Mattinson

Sales and Marketing Manager of City Cruises York

Case Study: The Little Seed Group

The award-winning Little Seed Group, run independently by Director and Founder Ellen Cole over the last four years, is sprouting a new cutting as it takes on its first ever intern to help support and establish a brand new, inclusive e-learning platform. With support and guidance from Make It York, Ellen has been able to take the next steps in growing and developing her marketing, PR and social media services business.

A proactive business owner, Ellen began working with Make It York in April, joining our network as a Visit York member. Conversations led to a connection with Business Growth Manager Louise Saw and Ellen has been able to access invaluable one-to-one support for making her ideas for diversifying and expanding her business services into reality.

This summer, the Little Seed Group will be taking on an intern from the University of York Internships Programme, a connection which also led the business into successfully receiving funding from the Santander Universities SME Internship Programme. The internship will be focused on the research and development of an e-learning resource, focusing on providing accessible and affordable training as more businesses look to adapt and upskill as they connect with their customers and stakeholders in a digital space.
As the first and only approved Mailchimp Partner in North Yorkshire, Ellen’s aim is to share her knowledge and fill the access to training gap for smaller businesses struggling to afford this through more traditional routes – a need only heightened as businesses work through economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.


“I have been working with Louise at Make It York now for a few months now and have been surprised how much support there is out there for businesses like mine.

She has put me in touch with other like-minded connections, forwards business funding opportunities to me and helps me work through business challenges when I am being indecisive. Taking on an intern through the University of York is something which I never would have done without Louise’s help.

Expanding my business from being just myself and bringing another person into the mix was a daunting business decision but something I felt passionate about doing to expand the reach and accessibility of the services I offer. Being able to share the aspirations and direction of where I wanted to take the business and gaining support, ideas and connections to do so means I now have the opportunity to launch this new training platform to new audiences, and helping businesses to upskill.

If any York-based B2B sole-traders or organisations are looking for some support to grow their business, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Louise and the team at Make It York.”

Ellen Cole

Founder and Director

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