Covid in Leeds: Here's how tiny Leeds businesses will get a boost through post-pandemic period

Tiny restaurants and shops in Leeds can get a helping hand from a scheme designed to help them through the city’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

Saturday, 7th August 2021, 4:45 am

A 12-week virtual support programme for “micro-businesses” in Leeds is set to launch soon, which Leeds City Council claims will offer help for dozens of businesses with less than 10 employees.

During the scheme’s original run back in 2020, the council helped businesses such as a record shop and an online bakery to a street food start-up and a jewellery producer.

Now the council, along with agency Insight with Passion, has teamed up to run the service for a second time, with support being targeted specifically at retail and hospitality microbusinesses as the sector strives to recover from the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Rachel Brereton is the owner of Chapel Allerton handbag and gift shop, Rebel & Rose, one of the businesses to make use of the scheme in 2020

The service, which offers one-to-one sessions over the phone, is already up-and-running, giving advice on areas such as marketing, finance and planning.

The virtual support programme, which gets under way in September, will include elements such as workshops, e-mails and a workbook, all of which can be accessed at a time to suit the individual business owner.

It follows a council report last month which claimed the “role of centres will need to be less about retail consumption” in the future, and that there was a “significant opportunity” for culture and leisure to form the future offer of Leeds city centre.

Among ways in which this could be done, “curating a diverse mix of uses” to attract people back into the city centre was suggested, as well as improving transport links and increasing the number of city centre green spaces.

Coun Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “The economic problems caused by the pandemic have clearly been immense and it has been inspiring to see how business people across Leeds have risen to the challenges of the last 17 months.

“The council has done everything it can to stand shoulder to shoulder with local businesses – large and small – from the beginning of the crisis, with more than £285m worth of support being distributed to them.

“It’s great that this additional assistance is being made available to some of our smallest businesses and we look forward to working alongside Insight with Passion in the coming months.”

Businesses making use of the service in 2020 included Rebel & Rose, a handbag and gift shop based in Chapel Allerton.

The shop’s owner, Rachael Brereton, said: “I can’t recommend it enough – I got friendly, straightforward advice that really was a massive help.

“I opened in April 2019, so my first anniversary was in lockdown and it was obviously a difficult time.

“The support from the service was pitched just right, though – speaking to someone who was genuinely interested gave me a big boost and I came away with ideas that had a huge impact, including building a new website, which proved incredibly successful during the second lockdown.”

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