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Award winning business takes on new staff thanks to growth grant

Posted on Thursday 19th May 2022
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A South Staffordshire business struck hard by the Covid-19 pandemic has bounced back to win major industry awards and up-skill new staff thanks to a local growth grant.

Construction health and safety consultants Safety Forward Ltd saw 30 per cent of its business disappear overnight in the first lockdown, but now has a turnover of almost half a million a year.

The Penkridge-based company has doubled their pre-pandemic turnover thanks to its ethical commitment to other businesses during Covid and a Thrive grant from Staffordshire County Council and South Staffordshire Council.

The grant is part of the wider £3.4m Staffordshire Means Back to Business support scheme, an initiative from a partnership between all the district and borough councils in Staffordshire to support businesses to survive and grow during and after the pandemic.

When Covid-19 struck, director Marisa Firkins turned Safety Forward into a new wellbeing service that helped its construction clients take care of their staff during the pandemic with free guidance and the development of a virtual training lounge. Rather than just supporting with physical health and safety advice, the business also helped businesses focus on their employees’ mental wellbeing.

Marisa won the 2021 Institute of Directors’ Director of the Year Award and has now taken on two new members of staff to skill up and help manage growing demand from customers across the country.

Marisa said:

It has been an incredibly challenging two years, but with the support of the community and my clients, and grants like that from the Staffordshire Means Back to Business scheme, we’re definitely on the up.

Thanks to the grant, we’re training two new members of staff up to consultant level, as well as investing in the virtual training package. Our staff bring with them fantastic fresh talent that we can mould, as well as great ideas for our clients to help support their employees’ mental health and wellbeing.

It has been a rollercoaster, but by focusing putting people first we’re making a very real difference to people’s lives and are now thriving.’’
Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White said: “Moving quickly to provide much needed training online and providing a trusted source of advice and support for construction businesses during the pandemic shows the flexibility and resilience of Safety Forward. It will have helped thousands of employees during the most uncertain times most of us can remember.

We’re proud to be part of that and upskilling the company’s workforce through the Staffordshire Means Back to Business grant, with the scheme as a whole investing over £3.4m into small businesses across Staffordshire.”

Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White said:

Moving quickly to provide much needed training online and providing a trusted source of advice and support for construction businesses during the pandemic shows the flexibility and resilience of Safety Forward. It will have helped thousands of employees during the most uncertain times most of us can remember.

We’re proud to be part of that and upskilling the company’s workforce through the Staffordshire Means Back to Business grant, with the scheme as a whole investing over £3.4m into small businesses across Staffordshire.”

 

South Staffordshire Council’s cabinet member for planning and business enterprise Terry Mason said:

Safety Forward really has pulled its fortunes around; from a pretty bleak outlook when Covid struck to a thriving business that has helped so many others with their own corporate responsibility towards their employees. I’m proud that South Staffordshire Council has been a part of that story.

By joining with Staffordshire County Council through the Staffordshire Means Back to Business scheme, we’ve been able to do more to help business than either organisation could have done its own. Together we’ve invested over £372,000 in South Staffordshire businesses and we’re definitely seeing the results.”

Although all funding has now been allocated to businesses from the Staffordshire Means Back to Business scheme, the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub on 0300 111 8002 have dedicated business advisors on hand to support and signpost businesses to current funding and professional support.

Any business less than two years old can apply for an interest free start-up loan of up to £5,000, with more information at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/StartUpLoans

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Contact the newsroom

These contact details are for journalists and members of the media only:

Email: pressoffice@staffordshire.gov.uk
Call: 01785 895050

If you are not a journalist or member of the media and have a general enquiry please:

Email: contactus@staffordshire.gov.uk
Call: 0300 111 8000

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