Coronavirus in Yorkshire: How our businesses are doing their bit to help

Several firms across Yorkshire are taking measures to not only help the business community but also wider society as the country heads towards a potential shutdown.

The spread of coronavirus has resulted in a huge cloud of uncertainty enveloping businesses across the country.

However, firms from an array of sectors ranging from retail to technology are doing their bit to support other businesses, schools and vulnerable elderly people.

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ShopAppy, an online platform that allows high street businesses to advertise themselves, has made its service free for the next three months.

Jackie Mulligan, founder of ShopAppy, is looking to do her bit to support independent retailers during these uncertain times.

Founder Jackie Mulligan said: “This is not a question of money, this is a question of doing the right thing.

“We hope that we’ll be able to continue afterwards and get back to the platform that we have, which is mainly advertising to get people back into the high street, but we couldn’t let people down now.”

ShopAppy is looking to team up with a taxi company to help deliver goods from the high street to older people who could be asked to self isolate in the future. The platform, which was first rolled out across West Yorkshire, is also looking to institute vouchers which people can buy now and use later to support high street shops and restaurants.

Business psychologist Charlotte Armitage is offering online support sessions for £10, significantly less than her usual rate.

Business psychologist Charlotte Armitage is offering online support sessions.

“It’s not about making money and profiting off it,” she told The Yorkshire Post. “It’s about building a community and supporting people while we’re all going through this difficult time.”

In the tech space, e-learning company Webanywhere is doing its bit for the education sector, if schools are forced to close.

The Leeds-based business is offering its podcasting platform Sound Branch free for teaching staff to use to enable them to communicate with pupils in the event of social distancing being introduced.

Webanywhere also has its Watch and Learn platform. That will be made available at cost price for schools to use during the current pandemic.

Sean Gilligan, CEO of Webanywhere, says every business should be doing its bit".

Sean Gilligan, CEO of Webanywhere, said: “Everybody has to keep the lights on and everyone has got wages to pay but on an affordable basis every business should be doing its bit.”

On a more grassroots level, two small independent traders in Holmfirth have teamed up to make sure that their elderly customers get their groceries and meat delivered in the event that they are forced to self-isolate.

Andrew’s Greengrocers, which has been going for over 40 years, has teamed up with local butcher Tom Kitchen-Dunn to ensure that elderly people are not overlooked during the ongoing crisis.

Andrew’s Greengrocers belongs to Alexander Bray’s father. He and Mr Kitchen-Dunn held discussions on Saturday and by Sunday all their produce was on one platform.

Andrews Greengrocers has teamed up with local butcher Tom Kitchen-Dunn to ensure that elderly people are not overlooked during the ongoing crisis.

Mr Bray said: “Payment is the least of our worries at the moment. We just want to make sure we get good quality fruit and veg, meat, dairy and anything else they require to their doorstep.

“We will deliver to their doorstep. If they are in self-isolation or if they have got medical problems we’ll ask them on the phone where the best place to put the delivery is.”

Bedale-based sausage producer Heck is offering delivery of home essentials to help people who are self-isolating, vulnerable or unable to get out during these uncertain times.

“We are based in a very rural area and there are a lot of vulnerable and isolated people in our immediate vicinity,” Becky Goodall from Heck, which has supported elderly people in the past, said.

Elland-based marketing agency Vizulate Digital is doing its bit to help clients communicate with their customers by offering free mail shots and even blog posts.

Scott Brant, director at Vizulate Digital, said: "If we can all help each other, rather than turn on each other, that goes not just for the business world but personally as well, that’s what we need to do."

Business finance advice helpline

A national helpline has been set up in West Yorkshire to help businesses survive the coronavirus crisis.

Commercial finance consultancy ABL Business has set up the advice line to provide information on the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CBILS) and also on what banks are doing to help businesses remain resilient.

The Cleckheaton-based company’s joint managing director Alex Beardsley sits on the CBI’s regional council for Yorkshire.

The number to call for COVID-19 related business finance advice is 0333 003 7685.