Open door event spawns new business support group

An open door event held in Halifax to mark Community Business Weekend has led to the creation of a new business support group.

Social enterprise Halifax Opportunities Trust invited in local businesses as part of the long weekend of national events. They were held to celebrate 7,000 community businesses across England which are run by their own local communities.

The Trust, Calderdale’s second biggest charity, held its event on Thursday (October 5) starting off with a business networking session at Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre, its own community-based business centre.

The free event included an information session on the digitalisation of tax from Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers Spenser Wilson of Pellon Lane, Halifax. Due to the positive response from guests, the Trust has agreed to put on regular free networking and information sessions for local businesses, focusing on its our charitable objective to support businesses in Calderdale. The next event will be held in November.

Halifax Opportunities Trust CEO Alison Haskins said: ““Our guests told us they found the information session extremely valuable and that they would be interested in more talks on topics that affect them. So we have agreed to put on similar events in future as part of our support for small businesses. SME owners can be unaware of new regulations that are coming into play and this will be a great way of getting that information out to them”.

“One of our charitable objectives is to provide help and advice to local businesses and to create training and employment opportunities, particularly for unemployed people who may need help in setting up a business of their own.

“Many paid-for networking events are becoming too expensive for start-ups and small businesses so we will be running these free monthly events at Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre to give everyone an equal opportunity to meet, network and learn”.

The Elsie Whiteley Centre, in Hopwood Lane, Halifax, is home to a whole range of thriving small businesses, with rental income from its office space and meeting rooms funding the charity’s important work helping disadvantaged individuals and families across the district.

The Community Business Weekend event started with an introduction to HOT and its vital work in the Calderdale community, delivered by interim Marketing Manager Alex Beardsley of ABL Business.

Spenser Wilson Directors Sally Shacklock (FCA) and Andrea Kennedy talked about “Making Tax Digital” – the biggest change to the UK’s tax system for a generation. They explained how Government plans to upgrade the tax system for the digital age will affect small business owners and advised on how to adapt to the changes.

This was followed by open business networking and a “hidden talent” session to discover how people could use their particular skills to support community businesses in their area.

Guests were then taken on a tour of The Outback, the Trust’s community kitchen and garden in Lightowler Road, Halifax. They heard how the Trust developed the overgrown urban green space at the rear of Jubilee Children’s Centre to create their community garden, which combines an edible landscape with areas of natural play.

Community Business Weekend provided an opportunity for more than 150 businesses and organisations nationwide to showcase the positive impact they have on society and get more people involved in their valuable work.

Ms Haskins added: “It was great to get involved in Community Business Weekend, helping to raise the profile of social enterprises doing valuable work across the UK. We are just one type of community business but there are a whole range of others, which can be anything from shops, pubs, farms, or call centres to name but a few.

“What we all have in common is that we are accountable to our communities and that the profits we make are put back into those communities to deliver positive local impact. But any successful community business relies on local support. That’s why Community Business Weekend was so important, in giving people chance to find out more about the organisations in their area, showcasing what’s on offer and highlighting how people can get involved”.

  • Community Business Weekend was run by Power to Change, an independent charitable trust that supports community businesses in England and campaigns for their greater recognition as an economic model.
  • The weekend was also supported by Campaign Collective which helps charities, social enterprises and public service organisations with affordable professional communications advice and support. The organisation’s profits are used to subsidise support for micro charities and community organisations and to help develop the next generation of communications professionals.
  • The third partner was Eden Project Communities. Eden Project is an educational charity and social enterprise, which creates gardens, exhibitions, art, events, experiences and projects to explore how people can work together and with nature towards a better future. Its aim is to improve the happiness and wellbeing of people across the UK by helping to build stronger and better-connected communities, while supporting them to tackle local issues that matter most to them.