Lancashire peer networking group gives boost to 320 businesses

More than 320 Lancashire business owners and managers have worked together to solve common challenges, share knowledge and grow as part of a government-funded support programme.
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The businesses have recruited staff, launched products and services, found new markets and improved their business resilience through the Peer Networks programme.

It brought together owners and managers in a series of structured virtual sessions to help them learn from each other.

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The fully-funded programme run in conjunction with Boost Business Lancashire is now set to help hundreds more businesses over the coming year after receiving further funding due to its impact.

Alex Young, Stanley Villa Farm Fishing and Camping with his two children.Alex Young, Stanley Villa Farm Fishing and Camping with his two children.
Alex Young, Stanley Villa Farm Fishing and Camping with his two children.

One business to benefit from the programme was Stanley Villa Farm Fishing and Camping near Kirkham. The company was unable to trade for large parts of last year and took part in a Peer Networks cohort led by Marketing Lancashire which brought together leisure, tourism and hospitality businesses.

Alex Young, manager of the site, said: “A lot of the business owners and managers we met through Peer Networks have had similar issues to us with staff being away for long periods of time.

“For the initial weeks after our reopening we need to trade under strict social distancing guidelines, which have created a number of issues, for example around our shared toilet facilities.

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“We’ve received a huge amount of help by discussing our ideas on specific areas such as planning which has helped us overcome these issues and make our site safe and viable for visitors this year. We’ve also received support on marketing such as a peer review of our website as well as other areas of the business.”

Dan Hurtley is managing director of Dan Hurtley Ltd, a Lancaster-based handcrafted furniture manufacturer and installer. He was introduced to Peer Networks by Boost mentor Paul Aisthorpe, who facilitated Dan’s cohort.

Dan said: “Without Paul and the Peer Networks programme I would still be a one-man band. We have now got four members of staff. We’re looking for new premises and I want to grow the company to a team of 10

“Joining Peer Networks gave me confidence, it’s good to bounce your ideas off other business owners and managers. I soon realised every business comes across similar obstacles.”

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The company is now planning to take on an apprentice to cover areas including marketing and administration.

Due to the success of the Peer Networks programme, BEIS has announced funding for a further 26 Peer Networks cohorts to run from July 2021 to March 2022.

Lancashire companies can register their interest via the contact us page on the Boost website or by calling 0800 488 0057. More information will be made available in the renewed programme over the coming weeks.

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