Author: Alice Midgley

Is the media doing enough to tell the stories of the #unreported and unheard?

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Trust in the mainstream media is at an all-time low. According to recent research, the number of people who said they trusted news outlets has fallen, from 33% in 2015 to just 24% this year.

I’m sure there are multiple reasons why this is the case but a stand out point made by those surveyed was that they just don’t feel that their outlooks and experiences are reflected in what they read in the newspaper, hear in the radio bulletins, see on the television broadcasts, or click on the news websites.

And why is this? Quite simply because many of them still think of journalists in a very traditional way. White, middle aged, middle class men. Sadly, this stereotype is actually quite accurate, and I think it’s more than fair to say from the survey findings, that all news outlets would benefit from a more diversity editorial team, authentically telling the stories of those who aren’t white, middle aged, middle class or male.

Wednesday’s Civic Journalism Lab event, hosted at BBC Newcastle, was an opportunity to explore what the media industry needs to do to change the ways things are in regard to diversity in order to try and win back the trust of the general public

Ran in partnership with Newcastle University, the audience around me was predominantly made up of university students. As much as it felt like I was back in a university lecture room, it was brilliant to see so many young people in attendance. After all, the millennial generation, of which I would include myself, has one of the highest distrust percentages when it comes to the media, often feeling disengaged from what’s going on in the world around us.

The discussion was held by four guest speakers, all of whom are actively working to encourage diversity within their outlets, in order to support the voices of those who are often unreported on by the media and write from a perspective that audiences can relate to and trust.

These were, Michael Segalov, the News Editor for Huck Magazine, Helen Amess, Outreach Manager for BBC North, Joshi Hermann, Editor-In-Chief for The Tab, and Jamie Clifton, UK Editor for The Vice.

Michael spoke about how Huck Magazine looks for ways in which they can bring alternative perspectives and fresh voices to the conversations had around major news stories.

These opinion pieces will come from young writers from a diverse range of backgrounds, who the magazine call on to ask ‘how do you see this story?’ By creating content that mixes the factual information in with the opinions and experiences of the writer, you are creating something that the audience can engage with and maybe even relate to.

Helen highlighted that the BBC feels it has a real responsibility to engage with the audiences who pay their license fee but perhaps never see themselves reflected on the television, never hear themselves on the radio, ad would never see themselves on the BBC’s social media platforms or website.

She pointed out the opportunity that news outlets have to engage with diverse audiences online but admitted that there’s is almost a skills gap when it comes to older journalists working effectively on social media. In order to reach audiences who don’t engage with traditional forms of media, journalists need to place equal importance on social channels, producing content that is designed specifically for online, not a rehash of what appeared on the TV or radio bulletins.

Joshi Hermann, Editor-in-Chief of The Tab, suggested that because the magazine has a good understanding of its reader’s interests, cultural references and educational backgrounds than most publications, they can tailor editorial for them. Page views online don’t necessarily indicate what people care about, the best way to find that out is to get out there and ask. To attract the attention, and most importantly the trust of readers, variety is essential, and content should be diverse in order to appeal to a diverse audience.

So what does all this mean for when the team at Publicity Seekers are storytelling for our clients? At Publicity Seekers we always say that people buy from people and in some cases it may be the stories, opinions and experiences of the staff members that customers will relate to and engage with.

There’s so much of the same news out there but a different opinion piece from a team member may provide an alternative perspective, which will shine the story in a completely different light and make it unique and attractive to the publications that we target.

Make sure to look out for our client stories in our media centre.

Seymour Civil Engineering celebrates continued growth with the appointment of board of directors

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North East civil engineering firm, Seymour Civil Engineering, has taken further steps towards securing its future success, with the appointment of four new company directors.

All hailing from existing roles within the company, Adam Harker has been named as contracts director, Simon Rodgers as commercial director, Stuart Dickens as construction director and Karl Brennan as pre-construction director.

Karl, who has been with Seymour Civil Engineering for 13 years, previously as the company’s bid coordinator, said: “I’m delighted to have been appointed in this new position. It’s fantastic to have been rewarded for my commitment to the business. It’s also testament to one of Seymour’s key values, ‘A People Business’. Seymour is excellent at fostering an environment that provides opportunity.

“A major part of my new position as pre-construction director will be looking at how Seymour engages with clients and stakeholders and how those relationships develop throughout the lifecycle of a project.

“Seymour has always been a client focused contractor, and as a result will have been successfully trading for 40 years next year, but placing a continued importance on maintaining strong relationships, and promoting sustainable outcomes above short term gains, significantly contributes to a positive and robust future for the company.”

Adam added: “I feel honoured and privileged to be promoted to director. It’s coming up to 10 years that I have been with the company and throughout that time the firm has assisted me to develop and grow. It’s now my turn to help take the business forward.

“I see the appointment of a board of directors as a real statement of intent by our Managing Director Kevin Byrne. It shows his drive and determination to see Seymour grow and continue to establish itself as the leading multi-discipline civil engineering company in the North East. With the new directors in place I can only see the business going from strength to strength in the coming years.”

Speaking about the latest appointments, Managing Director Kevin Byrne, said:  “As Seymour approaches its 40th anniversary I felt this was the perfect time to undertake the re-structure and introduce the board of directors to assist with making the vision we have for the company a reality.

“I will be working closely with the new directors to identify both strengths and challenges within the business, allowing us to prioritise time and focus attention on the key areas.

“As a team I am confident we will be able to lay the foundations for Seymour’s sustainable and structured growth going forward.”

Based at Seymour House on Hartlepool Marina, Seymour Civil Engineering has enjoyed a successful year, securing and completing a number of major projects across the region.

Most recently the firm celebrated a landmark contract win securing civil and infrastructure work for the £18 million exhibition development at Beamish Museum

J&B Recycling achieves record growth

Vikki Jackson-Smith, Managing Director of J&B Recycling

J&B Recycling has celebrated record financials for the financial year ending March 2017, reporting a turnover of £15.7m. The company also increased its gross profit by 159% to £2.3m and reported an EBITDA of £1.7m, up 87.2% from 2016.

The company has continued its strong growth into the current financial year. As at August 2017 it is now running at a £4m EBITDA run rate, as the results of previous investment into staff, machinery, process optimisation and a range of new significant contracts have begun to contribute.

Over the last year J&B Recycling has been working to dramatically increase its efficiency and most recently recorded an average of 98% of on-time services across the whole of the business during the last six months.

Vikki Jackson-Smith, Managing Director at J&B Recycling, said: “The past 12 months have been both exciting and very successful for J&B Recycling. On top of our best ever recorded financials, we have also successfully implemented and delivered on our two-year programme of development following our initial investment from the Business Growth Fund.”

In 2014 J&B secured £7.5m from BGF in order to help the company expand its operations across the region and increase its processing capacity across the company’s three sites in the North East.

Vikki said: “This financial year sets us up perfectly to move into the next and continue the growth of the company. Over the past few years we have transformed as a business using our investment to ensure we are working at the highest possible quality, environmental and health and safety levels.”

“Significant operational capacity has also been added across our three sites which is now beginning to be fully utilised.”

Vikki concluded: “Key to our business has to be our people and ensuring they are continuing to develop through our business. We have made a number of in-house promotions and also continued adding to our team, employing 30 new members of staff over the last year.”

Over the next financial year J&B Recycling will continue optimising its operations and commencing with its next phase of growth through new development of new installations or acquisitions.

The firm was also awarded its third Corporate Livewire Award earlier this year, taking away the title of ‘UK Recycling Firm of the Year’ for 2018.

Securing the future whilst remembering the past Seymour Civil Engineering helps Stanley remember its war time history

Mick Mair from Seymour Civil Engineering with Adrian Cantle-Jones from Durham County Council, representatives from The Environment Agency, The River Wears Trust, The Heritage Lottery Fund, and Stanley Town Council, and local residents.

North East Civil Engineering company, Seymour Civil Engineering, has completed work on a town regeneration project that captures the history of its residents.

Due to issues with flooding across the South Moor Terraces in Stanley, Seymour Civil Engineering was called upon to install a sustainable urban drainage system, a natural approach to managing drainage and recycling water.

To do this, rain garden planters were fitted between the pavement, providing homes for five trees, each commemorating one year of fighting in the First World War.

Along with additional foliage, the trees, positioned along the length of Pine Street, act as markers within the Twizell Heritage Trail, a route which tells the story of South Moor’s origins shortly before the First World War and how the miners shaped the community. Each tree will be marked with a World War one battle insignia, remembering the hundreds of miners who lost their lives.

The project was funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund, Durham County Council, Stanley Town Council and The Environment Agency.

Keith Love, Site Manager at Seymour Civil Engineering, said: “As a company, we are really proud to have been a part of a project that has not only contributed to environmental improvement and flood alleviation, but has commemorated Stanley’s heritage.

“Seymour Civil Engineering does everything it can to make sure it builds positive relationships with the communities affected by the projects it undertakes.”

Before starting on the Pine Street project, the Seymour Civil Engineering team attended a meeting with the residents to discuss the up and coming work.

Keith added: “Through the community meeting, we established the importance of avoiding unnecessary road closures and ensuring 24-hour accessibility to the households of vulnerable and elderly residents. Without that meeting, we would have been none the wiser and the project would have likely caused a lot of problems and upset.”

The project also saw Seymour Civil Engineering refurbish the pathways with block paving, designed in the style of old fashioned film reel to commemorate the important role that local cinemas played in war time communications.

During both World Wars, the community surrounding Stanley depended upon the five cinemas in the area for updates from the frontline.

Seymour Civil Engineering is renowned for its commitment to giving back to the communities within which it works and the Pine Street project was no exception.

Keith added: “Seymour Civil Engineering is passionate about going above and beyond to ensure its presence is considered a benefit, and its work is well received.

“Just one example of this is the work we did at the Stanley Community Centre. Mid way through the project we were approached by the centre’s management committee, asking if we could help make the facilities more accessible to the large numbers of elderly residents who use it. We offered to install dropped kerbs around the site, as it was clear that the community centre was an important part of community life, as anything we could do to help out was no trouble.”

“It’s brilliant to know that we’re making a real difference to people’s lives. The adjustments we made to our schedule and the extra work we added, had no effect on the completion of the project, but the positive impact it had on the community was ten-fold.”

Adrian Cantle-Jones, the Durham County Council Project Manager, said: “South Moor residents are delighted with the wonderful improvements to Pine Street and the wider Twizzel Burn and South Moor Heritage Trail. The South Moor Partnership is looking forward to continuing the regeneration of the South Moor Terraces and Twizzel Burn Catchment”.

The Pine Street project is one of a number of community initiatives that Seymour Civil Engineering has completed. Starting this Autumn, the firm has been contracted to carry out the civil and infrastructure work for the Remaking Beamish project, an £18 million development at Beamish museum that will see the addition of more than 30 new exhibits including a 1950’s town.

London needs to provide accessibility to all

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WITH  disabled people and their families spending power, or the ‘purple pound’ standing at £249 billion in 2017, it is vital that London businesses are ensuring their premises are accessible for all.

This year Transport for London announced that 25% of its tube stations are now step-free. With transport now leading the way, Cibes UK Sales and Marketing Director Gary Sullivan is calling on bars and restaurants in the capital to follow suit.

Gary Sullivan, Sales and Marketing Director for Cibes UK said: “London may be making a headway in its transport accessibility but a survey by the charity Scope found that 38% of disabled people feel that attitudes haven’t improved towards them since the London Paralympic games in 2012.

“When you look at the statistics they really do speak for themselves. Attitudes towards those with disabilities haven’t improved, despite the positive legacy the games intended to deliver, and this is apparent when you look at the contrast between the amount of people that use a wheelchair compared to the amount of bars, restaurants, and shops that are actually accessible and step-free.”

London – a city of contrasts

7% of Londoners consider themselves to have a mobility impairment, with 2% using a wheelchair on a permanent or regular basis.

However, a 2014 Government audit showed that 40% of restaurants in the UK don’t have an accessible toilet and 20% of High Street shops were not able to provide access for wheelchair users.

The Equality Act 2010 protects disabled people from discrimination and requires that ‘reasonable adjustments’ are made when providing access to premises.

Making the High Street accessible

French eatery Villandry café recently took steps to become more accessible by installing a new Cibes lift in its St James Restaurant. The decadent Edwardian building has private rooms on the first floor and toilets in the basement.

Phillippe Le Roux, Managing Director for Villandry said: “We are committed to providing the most top quality service for all of our guests and each of our restaurants is fully accessible. This is something that is extremely important for us and that we will not compromise on.

“Our previous lift was very old and was breaking down more and more. It was imperative that we replaced our old lift with a new one as soon as possible.

“One of our other lifts had been installed by Cibes and the company’s service was exceptional, from the installation down to the maintenance and aftercare.”

Gary added: “Villandry have a reputation for excellent customer service and wanted a reliable lift that would go above and beyond disability regulations for their diners.”

“The lift was fitted outside of working hours and another lift was used during the works to ensure disabled customers could access the restaurant.”

Gary concluded: “Bars and restaurants shouldn’t fear becoming step-free. Almost every space can become accessible and our Sales Managers who are briefed in health and safety, construction and accessibility legislation, will be able to guide you every step of the way.”

GCSE Results Day 2017, but what do those grades really mean for the future of the next generation?

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Waking up, I could only imagine how year 11’s across the country were feeling as the news reader on the radio announced the beginning of GCSE results days 2017.

Easily one of the most nerve wracking days of a 16 year olds life, memories flooded back of the day I arrived at school to pick up the brown envelope, that, at the time, you believe contains the fate of the rest of your life.

I arrived at Manor Community Academy in Hartlepool at 8:30am and eager students were already waiting at the door, ready to get that dreaded moment over and done with. After five years of secondary school and two years of hard work preparing for the GCSE exams, the day not only symbolises the start of the next step in life, but the end of an era. Emotions were high, but it was brilliant to see so many chuffed faces as expectations were met or even beaten.

But a clear difference this year was the look of confusion on some of the students faces.

A new numerical grade system has replaced the traditional A*-G grades for English and Maths and according to research from The Student Room, students find the 1-9 grading system is difficult to understand.

The reforms to the grading system have been introduced in an attempt to raise standards, so that pupils have the knowledge and skills they need to compete in a global workplace. Yet with the new grading system brings new, tougher exams which has resulted in a dip in the pass rate across England.

For some, classroom studies and GCSE exams are a breeze, but what about those who struggle? Do harder exams and disappointing results really mean the end of the world?

After this year’s drop in the pass rate it is more important than ever to inspire young people to keep their heads up, keep concentrating on their ambitions and to not be too disheartened.

At this point it’s vital that students are encouraged to find an area of study that they love. Maths, Science and English aren’t for everyone and it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are so many alternative areas in which students can excel. Once they find their niche and their passion, educational success will follow.

I know many successful business owners who will happily tell you that GCSE results aren’t the be all and end all, and as Publicity Seekers Managing Director, Samantha Lee, very rightly said: “Celebrate what you’ve got and don’t beat yourself up on what you don’t. Life is full of interesting paths and yours will come, regardless of what an exam paper says.”

Teesside, as a thriving business community, has an opportunity here to step up and inspire the future generations. After all, 2017’s GCSE students will one day soon be making up the Teesside workforce and what better way to secure a business’s future success than by preparing them in advance?

Apprenticeships, internships, work experience placements, school visits offering demonstrations, and talks are just a few ways that businesses can make a massive difference. It’s about taking a step back and identifying how, as role models, they can inspire and make an impact.

So what are you going to do?

J&B Recycling announced UK recycling firm of the year

Vikki Jackson-Smith, Managing Director of J&B Recycling

The North East’s largest independent recycling company, J&B Recycling, has been crowned ‘Recycling Firm of the Year’ by the international Corporate LiveWire Innovation & Excellence Awards 2018.

After being awarded the ‘Most Outstanding in Recycling Solutions’ for the previous two years, J&B Recycling has now been recognised and awarded Recycling Firm of the Year, due to its on-going investment and community-based initiatives.

Vikki Jackson-Smith, Managing Director of J&B Recycling, said: “We’re incredibly proud to have been named 2018’s Recycling Firm of the Year by Corporate LiveWire, and it’s fantastic to be officially recognised for our achievements in 2017. Going forward we will continue to live up to our title, by providing the very best waste management service for all of our customers.”

The awards are thoughtfully undertaken to recognise businesses that are transforming their trade, and setting trends in innovation and improvement throughout their respective industries.

Category winners are invited to a glittering awards ceremony in London where they will be recognised for their overall performance and their exceptional customer service.

A spokesperson from the Corporate LiveWire Awards, said: “Throughout 2017 J&B Recycling has really stood out to our readers and our judges. We are delighted to award them Recycling Firm of the Year and look forward to working with the team in 2018.”

Vikki added: “Through strategically planning investment in improving our quality service, technology and staff training we have built on the momentum of our previous award wins to become a leader in the North East recycling industry.”

The awards were judged by an independent panel that use its collective experience across a range of industries to showcase the most outstanding companies in the UK within a variety of sectors.

The 2018 judging panel featured individuals from high profile firms such as Capita, Prelude and Dealmarket.

Weschenfelder to enter German market after dramatic sales increase

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Sausage making specialist Weschenfelder’s has celebrated a 25% increase in online sales this year and has set its sights on the German sausage making market, thanks to Forrest Digital.

In a partnership that spans over 12 years, the digital marketing specialist has led to the the evolution of Weschenfelder’s web presence, undertaken ROI analysis and perfected an online marketing approach, that has helped the company sell to over 15 different countries from its base at Riverside Park in Middlesbrough.

Weschenfelder Direct sell sausage making equipment, casings and seasonings to individuals and businesses who want to make their own sausages.

Tim Weschenfelder, Director of Weschenfelder Direct said: “As our business has grown so has our partnership with Forrest Digital. When we first started working together we were selling around 30% of our products online, this has now dramatically increased to 70%.

“Countries we export to include France, Portugal and Spain with our latest target being king of the sausages, Germany.

“This would never have been within our reach without Forrest Digital, they have helped us build a professionally translated German site, complete with a strategic digital marketing campaign and incorporating data insights from the German market that will stand us in good stead next to our competitors.

“Every country is different and that’s why if you are going to export, you need to find an experienced digital consultant with knowledge of the preferences and behaviour of your target market. I never would have known that German customers are more cautious when paying online and less likely to use credit cards and that small changes like implementing a PayPal or a debit card payment system would give potential customers that extra confidence to shop with us.”

The German ecommerce market is growing rapidly and was worth over 66 billion euros in 2016, an increase of seven billion euros since 2015. Over half of internet users in Germany have bought a product from a foreign country.

Iain Forrest, Managing Director of Forrest Digital, said: “Tim came to us back in 2005 after using another digital marketing company he was not completely happy with.

“As one of our long-term clients Weschenfelder has truly reaped the benefits of a partnership that has seen us working together to build an online presence and content that is market leading. Together we’ve created one of the most trusted sites in this market and Weschenfelder is now a go-to destination for businesses and individuals seeking advice about these types of products.

A long-term relationship like this really enables clients to leverage the working partnership we have with internet-giant Google, which allows us to test and trial new services, keeping them a step ahead of their competitors.

“Achieving success in the German sausage market is ambitious but very achievable as far as we’re concerned. When we were looking at site statistics we noticed already a large number of visitors were from Germany. When we discussed this with Tim, it turns out it was something he’d been thinking about for a while and was keen to develop.

“We use a professional translator for all our German AdWords, SEO and site content, in order that the right colloquial language is used throughout, with none of the bad grammar or comical translation errors that come as part and parcel of automatic translation services and which instantly put a potential customer off.”

Tim concluded: “My grandfather Ludwig Weschenfelder emigrated from Bavaria to Middlesbrough in 1895 to work as a butcher’s apprentice and from there grew Weschenfelder. Hopefully we can now come full circle and start selling our products back to the German market.”

Awareness campaign highlights deadly legionella hotspots

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A Legionella Awareness Day campaign has uncovered that over 1300 cases of legionella have been reported in the UK since 2014, listing Greater London, Greater Manchester and Nottinghamshire as three of the areas most affected.

In the run up to Legionella Awareness Day, held by national water treatment company HydroChem UK, the company submitted 317 Freedom of Information requests to councils across the UK.

In Greater London 163 cases have been reported over the last three years while in Greater Manchester 61 were reported and 44 in Nottinghamshire.

Reports of the bacteria, which is most dangerous to children and older people during the warmer months, have increased by 35% this year alone. The symptoms of the disease include high fevers, muscle aches, tiredness and headaches.

Head of the campaign and Legionella Consultant at HydroChem UK, Paul Abbott is keen to make people aware and encourage them to stay safe against the potentially fatal disease.

He said: “In the day-to-day we are constantly working with schools, businesses, care homes and hospitality and leisure facilities to make sure they are all preventing fatal levels of the bacteria and looking after their water systems.

“The campaign however was to make the general public aware and also give them the confidence to be able to ask their child’s school, their mother’s care home or even their own local gym if they are compliant. It would really surprise you how many well established places don’t have a process in place to take care of their water systems.”

The awareness day was joined by a number of both national and international organisations, including The NLCE UK, The Water Management Society, Tenant Referencing UK, and the New Mexico Department of Health.

Legionella bacteria naturally occurs in water and soil, but increased levels can cause Legionnaire’s Disease, a severe form of pneumonia that has resulted in over 80 fatalities in England and Wales since 2012.

Paul added: “Legionella hit the UK news earlier this month when a hotel guest in Ludlow, Shropshire, died after coming in to contact with the bacteria.

Incidents like this are easily avoided if people are aware of the potentially dangers, which is why we decided it was time for HydroChem to do something about it.

“If this year’s awareness campaign has helped spread the message of staying safe against Legionella and prevented even just one case of Legionnaire’s Disease, then it’s all been worth it. We‘re keen to make next year’s campaign even bigger and better, spreading the important message even further.”

Five tips for avoiding Legionella 

To help keep safe from the toxic Legionella bacteria, Paul has provided his top five safety tips:

  1. Make sure your hot water is actually hot and your cold water is actually cold. If hot water is above 60°C this kills Legionella bacteria, but be careful to avoid scalding. Likewise cold water should be kept to below 20 degrees celcius in order to discourage bacteria from growing.
  1. Run your bath, sinks and shower regularly. If you haven’t used your bath, sink or shower for a week, run the taps or showerhead for at least five minutes before you use them. Clean and disinfect your shower head on a quarterly basis.
  1. Keep your water systems (like tanks, water coolers and water butts) covered and clean. Legionella thrives where there are nutrients like rust, sludge and slime.
  1. Be careful around standing water. Standing water is a pool of water that doesn’t flow, like a lake or puddle, or even a glass of water that has been out for days.  Standing water can harbour Legionella so it is important to take precautions when handling it. Be careful not to stir up any aerosol that could be breathed in and potentially cause harm.
  1. Be careful when gardening. Legionella grows in soil, so wear gloves when handling soil and compost. Handle compost and soil in a well-ventilated area

If you’re travelling abroad to somewhere warm, be aware of the potential risks of Legionnaire’s Disease as Legionella can rapidly multiply if it finds its way in to artificial water supply systems, such as air conditioning systems. Seek medical advice on your return to the UK if you develop any symptoms of the infection.

To find out more about Legionella Awareness Day or for advice on how you can keep you and your family safe from the Legionella bacteria, visit the website legionellaawarenessday.co.uk or follow the conversation using #LAD2017 on Twitter.

 

Tees Valley’s £6m funding helps 1,000’s return to employment

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The brilliant news that the Tees Valley has received £6million worth of funding to support thousands of people across the region back in to work, is music to our ears at a time where the region’s future success is at the forefront of our minds.

In the wake of Wednesday’s ‘Building a Thriving North East’ event, held at Hartlepool College of Further Education, the importance of building the confidence and ambition of the Tees Valley community, young and old, is evident. If the region is going to bounce back from the issues that it has previously faced, and establish itself as the powerhouse it deserves to be, business leaders need to collaborate in order to tackle the array of social, educational, and mindset barriers that potentially stand in the way.

Our region is bursting with innovative, forward-thinking businesses, who have worked hard to reinvent themselves in times of regional change and have come out on top time and time again. The Tees Valley, once known for heavy industry such as steel manufacturing, has evolved in to a hub of digital/creative industry, which demonstrates its diversity perfectly.

These businesses have the potential to progress and grow, yet if businesses don’t make the effort to instil passion and excitement in to the next generation, where will we be 10 years from now?

The pilot initiative, which has been launched in the six combined authority areas in the country, is particularly exciting, as it offers opportunity to people aged 30 and over, who have had the greatest difficult getting in to the world of work due to struggles experienced during their time in education.

At Wednesday’s event, Shaun Hope, Head of Student Recruitment at Hartlepool College of Further Education, spoke about the difficulties that a results-driven education system has created. A constant focus on achieving the best results has meant that the support for those who academically aren’t the greatest performers has declined year after year.

This initiative will help to combat this lack of support, which resulted in school underachievers struggling to find employment. It will give them the opportunity to identify their talents and skills, and support with driving their ambition to achieve and better themselves.

Yet what I find most exciting is that its ripple effect will have a positive impact on those around them. If a child see’s a parent in a full time job, achieving and feeling fulfilled, they are more likely to have aspirations for their own future career. The same goes for other family members, friends and neighbours.

Our newly elected mayor, Ben Houchen, is calling upon local support services and councils, voluntary organisations, and Tees Valley businesses to provide the best possible support to help people back to work. Thanks to this funding, support will no longer be a financial burden, all that is asked is that they provide their time.

Going forward a regional focus needs to be on urging business and organisation leaders to consider themselves as role models to the community and to take a step back to see how they can help to make a difference.