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Members of the public, together with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), have helped safeguard 120 businesses and protect over 350 jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

In May of this year, the North East LEP announced a partnership with Crowdfunder UK, which meant it would award up to £5,000 in match funding to crowdfund campaigns launched by small businesses in the North East LEP area.  The fund was set up in partnership with Crowdfunder UK to provide additional support to businesses, charities, social enterprises and sole traders unable to access government funding, and those forced to close or struggling to trade because of lockdown restrictions.

To date, the North East LEP has awarded £400,000 through the scheme, in addition to the £495,000 raised by almost 10,000 generous members of the public who have supported local businesses’ appeals through the Crowdfund North East LEP campaign.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “Every business in every sector of industry has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s some of our region’s smaller businesses and enterprises that have struggled the most – particularly those that haven’t been able to adapt as quickly as others, leaving them vulnerable to redundancies and closure.

“The generosity and support from members of the public through crowdfund campaigns has been a lifeline for many small businesses, and as part of our package of support for North East businesses during the coronavirus crisis we wanted to ensure more vital funding reached these organisations.

“Through Crowdfund North East LEP on Crowdfunder UK’s website, we’ve been able to support businesses in every part of our region, and across a range of sectors; including tourism, sports, hospitality, the arts, music, and charities.”

Recipients include vegan and vegetarian café, Shoe Tree Café, in Heaton, Newcastle. The match funding from the North East LEP helped the owners diversify the business so it could continue to trade safely during the pandemic.

Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team used Crowdfund North East LEP to ensure the voluntary emergency service could remain on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without cutting costs.

And Heatherslaw Light Railway Company, a narrow-gauge steam railway tourist attraction based in North Northumberland, used the funds raised through the crowdfund campaign to ensure the family business could reopen after lockdown.

Support is still available for small businesses in the North East LEP area through Crowdfund North East LEP until the end of December 2020. More information about the scheme, including how to apply, is available here.

Rob Love, CEO, Crowdfunder said: “Businesses have already faced an extremely challenging time during the first lockdown. We have also seen incredible resilience: small businesses have adapted and pivoted their offerings in order to keep trading. By crowdfunding and gaining match-funding from the LEP they can maintain cash flow and stay connected to their customer base which is vital if they are to bounce back quickly once this is all over. The North East LEP match funding helps to take the pressure off small businesses and enables many to protect their staff and livelihoods. We are ready and able to work with any LEP or Local Authority that is able to do the same.”

Crowdfund North East LEP is just one of the ways the North East Local Enterprise Partnership has been supporting businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

The North East LEP is the founding member of the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group, which was established at the start of the pandemic to ensure the North East has strong economic leadership that acts quickly and collaboratively to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.

The group is made up of the North East LEP, CBI, North of Tyne and North East Combined Authorities, with the support of industry. The group recently submitted its ambitious North East Recovery and Renewal Deal to government, which asks for £2.8 billion investment to unlock half for the 100,000 more jobs required to support North East recovery quickly. Find out more about the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group.

 

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Lucy Winskell