Businesses and more jobs created after agency helps would-be entrepreneurs 

FIFTEEN people have now successfully set up their own businesses after benefiting from advice and  support on the D2 Business Starter Programme run last year by enterprise agency Erewash Partnership.  
 
More than 100 would-be entrepreneurs attended a series of free workshops in Erewash and Amber Valley.  This has resulted in creating 21 jobs. 
 
The Partnership is now preparing to run the programme again in each of the two areas on behalf of East Midlands Chamber. This is part of a county-wide initiative that is funded by Derbyshire County and City Councils and Derby and Derbyshire Economic Partnership.
 
The programme is available to residents in Erewash and Amber Valley, who have to enrol and register through the agency, whose headquarters are based in Long Eaton.
 
An individual tailored package of support is offered, which includes one to one mentor support and a series of workshops, these are led by experienced professionals and are designed to compliment the mentoring sessions.
 
Workshops include subjects such as an introduction to self-employment, marketing, business planning, bookkeeping and social media.
 
The free half-day workshops will begin in Erewash on April 11 and continue until May 25. Workshops will be repeated in the autumn in Amber Valley.
 
The largest number of jobs created has been at The Factory Kitchen, a licensed restaurant in Mundy Street, Ilkeston.  Owners Kevan and Jane Pierrepont, who were previously in engineering, set up the business in August.  They now employ six members of staff in a variety of positions. 
 
“It was good. It gave us a fresh insight to help our new business which was different to before,” said Jane.
 
Mark Ratcliffe accessed all areas of the programme and attended all five workshops.  Mark set up Marlon Training Associates in Ripley which trains people who work with new computer systems, processes and working practices.
 
Previously, Mark had worked for a high street bank for 31 years. He realised he could use his skills and experience but required help and support to set up and run his own business.
 
“Each workshop was really useful with good practical advice and the mentoring was excellent,” he said. 
 
Partnership chief executive Ian Viles said: “Any successful entrepreneur will say that starting a business is not easy and there is an old saying that if you fail to plan, plan to fail.
 
“Our programmes provide would-be business owners with sound, helpful advice, based on proven techniques which is backed up by years of successful experience by mentors – to hopefully eliminate potential pitfalls and so give a solid foundation. 
 
“We are delighted with the number of people who have started their own businesses, boosting the mixed local economy. We wish them every success and are confident others will follow.”

Centre threatened with closure opens its doors to the public to raise its profile

A centre run by a charity threatened with closure is throwing open its doors to the public in a bid to attract more financial help.
 
Erewash Mental Health Association's Touchwood Centre in Ilkeston is having an open week starting from Monday (March 19).
 
The Charlotte Street centre, which opens each weekday, offers a welcoming, safe and supportive environment where up to 40 adults with mental health issues can have a meal, take part in various activities including learning life skills and computer training, recreation and sport, and receive help and support.
 
The association used to receive a public grant but that ended last March, leaving the centre facing a cash crisis and possible closure within months.
 
Now it is fighting back, having appointed a fund raiser and keen to show just how much its services are needed and valued by users who are vulnerable and regard the centre as a lifeline.
 
The public will be able to see activities including holistic and beauty therapies, chair-based exercises, mindfulness, and competitions when the centre opens to the public from 10.30am-2.30pm. 
 
And they will be joined by the borough's first citizen, when the Mayor of Erewash, Councillor Mary Hopkinson, pops into the centre on Monday at 11am to see for herself the work done.
 
Centre manager Lynn Orchard said the idea behind the open week was raise the profile of the centre  and arouse interest from people and organisations who may be able to give assistance.
 
“We want more people to see exactly what we do here and spread the word about what we can offer,” she said.
 
“Hopefully, that will attract benefactors who will help keep the centre going.”

Cash-stricken charity faces closure of base for vulnerable adults unless it receives help

A CHARITY that is a lifeline for people with mental health issues may have to close in months because of a cash crisis.
 
As well as depriving service receivers of vital support the closure of Erewash Mental Health Association's Touchwood Centre in Ilkeston would also mean the loss of four jobs.
 
The association, which was formed 30 years ago, used to have another centre in Long Eaton but that closed in April because of lack of funds, leaving just the one which caters for up to 40 people with mental health issues.
 
The Ilkeston centre, in Charlotte Street, offers a welcoming, safe and supportive environment where adults can have a meal, take part in various activities including learning life skills and computer training, recreation and sport, and receive help and support.
 
The centre, which is open from 10-3.30pm each weekday, is overseen by a board of directors.
 
One of them, Lesley Grand-Scrutton, said: “There have been drastic cuts in Derbyshire to funding mental health services by both the county council and the clinical commissioning group.
 
“The cuts have moved the goalposts so that instead of providing long-term centre-based support, as we do, what is offered is short-term support within the community by a national mental health charity.
 
“We are providing a vital service which is not the same as the alternative offered.
 
“Our service receivers are happy with what we do and don't like change. They are vulnerable and we are their lifeline.
 
“If we don't get sufficient help within months we will have no option but to close the the centre which will impact on the lives of the less fortunate in this area.
 
“There has been a lot of high profile, including royal support for mental health issues, but in our experience this does not filter through to grass roots level.”
 
The association received a grant of more than £100,000, but that stopped on March 31. It costs £8,000 a month to run the Ilkeston centre. 
 
Manager Lynn Orchard said: “We are managing to continue by using our reserves at the moment but we estimate that we can only continue to do that for another six months.
 
“We would appeal for any business, charity or philanthropist who could offer their financial support to contact us.”
 
Comments from service receivers include: 'Staff offer appropriate advice and a friendly welcome', 
'The centre allows members not to feel isolated when symptoms are scary', and 'Activities have made me happier and self-assured'.

Consultancy's work on regenerating old brownfield sites reaps triple success 

ENGINEERING consultancy Rodgers Leask is celebrating after a triple success for its work on major regeneration schemes involving brownfield sites.
 
The firm, which has its headquarters in Derby, triumphed at the 13th Brownfield Briefing Awards, a flagship event which recognises all that is best practice in the remediation sector and rewards technical and conceptual excellence in projects.
 
Rodgers Leask won two categories and was highly commended in a third.  In each case the company was linked with schemes by St Modwen Developments. 
 
In the category for the best brownfield infrastructure project, Rodgers Leask won for its work to design surface water and foul water management systems at the 600 acre former Llanwern Steelworks site at Newport in South Wales. The multi-function design for the new residential and business community was praised for its alternative approaches to flood storage, water quality management and bio-diversity enhancement as well as enhancing the landscape.
 
The company’s win in the Best Biodiversity Enhancement category was achieved for its work to re-route the River Ewelme at a former engine works at Dursley, Gloucestershire. The design successfully took the river from concrete culvert to open channel, re-creating a natural river habitat, providing the opportunity for fauna and flora to naturally migrate along the new river channel and increase local biodiversity. 
 
Rodgers Leask was also highly commended for its engineering input on the redevelopment of the former MG Rover works at Longbridge in the West Midlands. Over the last 12 years Rodgers Leask has been involved in all major phases of the development of the 190 hectare site which has transformed into a thriving new town centre and includes major retail stores, educational and office buildings,  a 75-bedroom hotel, and  shops, restaurants, and homes.
 
Andy Leask, chairman, said: “This was the first time we have entered these high-profile and prized awards so we are delighted to have been so successful.
 
“The results are a huge endorsement for the company, and a testament to the commitment and hard work of our staff in both Derby and the Birmingham office in helping to revitalise technically challenging sites for modern uses and to benefit local communities.”