Author: Alice Midgley

Why media relations is brutally good PR

The media, it’s everywhere! Whether it’s TV, radio, the morning paper, the monthly magazines, or articles that appear in your Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn feeds, it’s what keeps you updated with what’s going on, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

 

These messages that you receive through a number of means each day, they reach a large number of people and often have quite an impact on people’s thoughts and maybe even actions. So how can your business get in on the action?

 

MEDIA RELATIONS

 

Media relations involves working with the various arms of the media to keep your business’s key target audience informed and updated on what’s happening within the business and what it’s all about.

 

Within this guide, I’m going to cover some of the reasons why media relations is such an integral part of the communications plan for any business, and a few steps to help you prepare to take on the task.

 

So the obvious place to start and the question that needs answering, ‘why is media relations so important and brutally good PR?’

Well the reasons are pretty endless, but here are a few key ones for you to think over. Reasons that are important whether you’ve been in business for 5 minutes or 50 years.

 

You’re doing incredible things on a daily basis, incredible work that could persuade new customers to choose your business over your competitors. But they’re not going to do that if they’ve never heard of you and therefore don’t have a clue of your brilliance.

 

This is where media stories come in useful. They not only increase awareness of your brand and what you’re all about, they shout about the amazing work you’re doing, helping massively to build up a positive reputation.

 

Potential customers also want to know that you’re the best of the best and an easy way to do that is to position yourself as a business leader using the media to spread the message

 

Media relations isn’t just about press releases, it could be writing a feature style article that highlights your opinion as a leading one in the industry or on a particular topic, video comment, social media or simply providing an opinion that could be included within a wider discussion.

 

It’s important to understand a number of elements when it comes to media relations

 

  • The journalist

 

They come in all different shapes and sizes (meant more metaphorically but I guess they literally do) and all work in very different ways.

 

For some, time is of the essence. For those who have daily papers to fill, or a quota of stories to go online each day, a pre-written press release goes down a treat. They then have all the information and quotes they need in front of them and much-valued content.

 

If you ask them to carry out the interviews themselves, only providing them with the basic background information, unless your story is massive news, it’s unlikely they’ll be interested or have the time, even if they are.

 

Side note and shameless plug

If writing a press release for your company sounds like hell on earth, or is something you just don’t have time to do, it’s our speciality, the bread and butter of what we do for clients, day in day out.

Not only are we bloody good at it, we enjoy it, and we’re more than happy to work with you to get something written up ready for you to send out.

 

On the other hand, you may have journalists who would rather put the story together themselves. If this is the case, best to not just give them a press release and be done with it. Open yourself up to them as a source they can use and most importantly come back to in the future.

 

Best way to go about contacting journalists? Pick up the phone and have a chat. I know I know, we’re in a technical age where people don’t call one another anymore, but trust me it’s for the best. It gives you the chance to build up a rapport with the journalist, pitch your story to them, find out if it’s of interest, and if it’s not find out what you can to change it so that it is.

If you can make their life easy, they’ll remember that, and they’ll be more likely to come back to you for future work. You’ve positioned yourself as a business they can trust.

 

  • The publication

 

Again these vary massively and quite honestly, If you want to build up a relationship with these publications and prove to them that you’re a trustworthy source for them to use for stories and features in the future, you need to understand them.

 

Take the time to look over what they’ve covered in the past, the writing or presenting style, take note of any regular features they run that they might need support with.

 

All this information will help you approach them as a help, not a hindrance, and as it will be in your business, you avoid hindrances like the plagues and embrace helpers. This is the position you want to be in.

 

 

So that’s media relations in a nutshell (I could go on all day but I’m sure you’ve got lots of importance bits to be getting on with) and I’m sure you’re thinking one of two things.

 

Either, ‘bring it on, I’ve got this’ or ‘well that sounds horrendous, and a massive drain of my time’

 

If it’s the latter, absolutely no bother, that’s what we’re here for! From identifying the initial story, to writing up the press release, achieving a heap load of coverage in all your target publications, and making sure it gets in front of your target audience, we’ll take care of the whole thing.

 

A great example of a recent media relations project we carried out, was working with Orangebox Training Solutions, a training provider based in the North East and operating across the UK.

 

The company was celebrating its second birthday and Orangebox’s founder and Managing Director, Simon Corbett, came to us to work on a news release to show how far the company had come in its first 24 months, and what its plans were going forward.

 

After an hour-long conversation with Simon, I had all the information I needed for the story and I went away and wrote up a release, tailoring the news line to the various publications that we were targeting. A strong photo often sells a story so I made sure to also get a group photo of the team with plenty of Orangebox branding in the background to help raise awareness.

 

Within a matter of weeks, the story was everywhere. From some of the largest online business news platforms, such as Bdaily, BQ and Insider Media, to the key regional publications, including Teesside’s Evening Gazette and The Northern Echo and Tees Business, we made sure the story was in front of all the right people in the North East.

 

So I hope that’s been some insight into how to approach a media story. Of course this is our website so here’s our own shameless plug…..

 

Want Publicity Seekers to look after your brand and shout about your business? Talk to us today about a communications audit, social media management, content creation, video media and award submissions.

Guide: Why awards are brutally good PR

At the end of last week, the team from Publicity Seekers put on our glad rags for the annual Hartlepool Business Awards. 

 

Put together by the Hartlepool Business Forum, the yearly event is always a fantastic evening, bringing the business community of Hartlepool together and celebrating the abundance of successes from the past 12 months. 

 

A fancy dinner followed by a glittering award ceremony, of which I was invited on stage as the new Hartlepool MP Mike Hill’s glamourous assistant, the evening not only highlighted the best of the best but brought to my attention the number of great businesses that are based in the town. 

 

And this really got me thinking, thanks to these awards I am now aware of businesses which before I had no idea existed. 

 

Apart from potentially getting to take home a trophy and a certificate, there are so many benefits to entering awards, awards really are great PR. 

 

Entering awards is a great way to show that you mean business, and an even greater way to persuade potential customers that you’re as good as you say you are. 

 

Not only is it free marketing that will help improve your brand awareness, a shortlisting, nomination or a win, is a brilliant 3rd party endorsement for your business and a seal of approval for your products or services and a sign of quality for your customers. 

 

It’s also a great way of differentiating you from your competitors, automatically setting you one step higher in the eyes of your target customers. 

 

  • The entering 

 

It’s a mixed bag with awards, some are free to enter, some have fees attached, some require you to write submissions, and others you simply put yourself forward for or are nominated for by someone else. 

 

The Hartlepool Business Awards are free to enter but require entrants to write a submission, touching on a number of factors suggested by the judging panel. 

 

This is the first and often the biggest hurdle for entrants. ‘I don’t have the time to sit and write an submission for an award’ or ‘I’m not a great writer and struggle to fit all the points needed into a concise submission.’ 

 

Well that’s what we’re here for. At Publicity Seekers we will do the leg work for you. After a bit of background research in to your business and the award you are wanting to enter, we’ll sit with you for an hour or so, get all the information we need, and go away to put an award winning submission together. 

 

And I’m not just saying that, our submissions really are award winning. A number of clients return to us year after year asking us to write submissions for a variety of different awards, and our success rate of getting clients shortlisted is through the roof. 

 

Here’s just a couple of examples from this year…. 

 

Hart Biologicals walked away from the Made in North East Awards last October with not one but two wins. They were named Manufacturer of the Year (under £25m) and Exporter of the Year 

 

https://www.hartbio.co.uk/news/hart-biologicals-made-north-east-double-celebratio/ 

 

The team at Total Recycling Awards were crowned the winners of the Best Services Provider award at the Teesside heat of the North East Business Awards in March.  

 

http://www.totalrecyclingservices.co.uk/news/award 

 

J&B Recycling are gearing up for the National Recycling Awards in June, where they are shortlisted for the efficiency award, as well as the Independent Operator of the Year. 

 

http://www.jbrecycling.co.uk/news/view?id=125 

 

  • Getting shortlisted 

 

Getting shortlisted for an award brings with it a heap of benefits.  

It’s a fantastic opportunity to improve brand awareness and build the business or the business leader profile. 

 

Many awards are closely associated with a particular publication which will cover the shortlisting for its readers, and alongside this you have the opportunity to maximise PR exposure through your own platforms. Get a story up on the news section of your website, update social media, email signatures, and any other marketing materials with the finalist logo, and basically shout from the rooftops about your achievement in any way you can. 

 

  • The awards ceremony 

 

Getting shortlisted for an award often comes with a glittering award ceremony. The ceremonies themselves are a fantastic opportunity to recognise just how much the business has achieved with those who have made it possible, the team around you. Celebrating successes is great for team morale which we all know, in turns makes for happier more motivated employees. 

 

The awards may even be a great opportunity to woo potential clients. If you have space on your table you can invite them along for an evening of good food, good wine and all you best charm.  

They’ll walk away remembering your kindness and what a good night they had, and next time they’re looking for the services you offer, likelihood is that you’ll be the first business that springs to mind. 

 

But most importantly, attending an award ceremony is the opportunity to work the room. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK.  

Get your business card as far and as wide as the room will allow. In my eyes there is no better way of building relationships than by attending networking events, and award ceremonies tend to be a lot bigger than your average mid-week networking breakfasts. 

 

  • WINNING! 

 

If you are fortunate enough to be crowned the winner of your category then that’s bloody brilliant!  

 

You’ve been banging on about how good the business is for ages now, but having that brilliance recognised by someone else, so much so that you’ve beaten other businesses to the top, is one of the greatest 3rd party endorsements you could ask for. 

 

Award wins increase credibility, and act as a sign of quality for potential customers. Winning awards can also strengthen the relationships you have with suppliers and differentiates you from your competitors. An all-round success really. 

 

Award winners are also likely to receive further coverage in the publication associated with the awards or in the local/regional news. 

 

Some may even run pull our supplements of all the winners, a fantastic way to raise your profile and get people talking about your business. 

 

 

 

We’re nearing the end of this year’s awards season, but come next year I urge you to consider what being named the winner of an award could do to boost your business. 

And as always, we’re here to help. Feel free to give us a bell, we’ll be happy to discuss options and offer any advice. 

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the winners from this year’s Hartlepool Business Awards, particularly our clients Seymour Civil Engineering who took home the Investment in Training award, as well as being named the Overall Business of the Year. 

Seymour lays solid foundations for 40th year with top business award

Seymour Civil Engineering kicked off its 40th anniversary celebrations in style after stealing the night at this year’s Hartlepool Business Awards.

The team, who attended the glittering awards ceremony at the Hartlepool Borough Hall, celebrated a double award win picking up the Investment in Training award, closely followed by the diamond of the night, being named the Overall Business of the Year.

Karl Brennan, Pre-Construction Director at the firm, said: “It was brilliant to win the Business of the Year Award at this year’s event, especially as it is a very special year for the firm. Seymour is a Hartlepool company, which is proud to have its roots in the town, and to win this award on our 40th anniversary year is an absolutely fantastic achievement.

Over the past 12 months alone the Hartlepool based firm has carried out a diverse range of flagship projects, both within the town and across the wider North East and Yorkshire region.

Karl continued: “I am really proud to be a part of Seymour and was truly honoured to have been able to accept the trophy at the award event this year. I’m looking forward to taking it back to our head office in Hartlepool and sharing it with all the colleagues who have made Seymour what it is today and who have made winning possible.”

The Hartlepool Business Awards celebrated the successes of a range of Hartlepool based businesses in a selection of categories.

The Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award was presented to Reece Hugill, founder of Hartlepool brewery, Donzoko Brewing Company, whilst Business Leader of the Year was awarded to Rob Collier, who spearheads a group of multi-million pound businesses in the town.

It was a double win for Rob Collier, as Advanced Retail Solutions won the Service sector category, whilst Families First North East took the Community award.

The Manufacturing award went to The Expanded Metal Company, Couch Potato Films won the Creative Industries category, and the Tourism, leisure and Hospitality award went to the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

After a successful year, which has seen its workforce grow from three to seven, JDM Earth Ltd was named Small Business of the Year, and Simon Corbett, Founder of Orangebox Training Solutions celebrated winning the Most Promising New Business category.

Karl Brennan from Seymour Civil Engineering, added: “Seymour is a business that doesn’t see standing still as an option. We have continuously reinvented ourselves, innovating in a number of different civil disciplines from drainage strategies and sea defences to urban regeneration schemes and historic restoration services.

“Recognising the 40th anniversary over the next few months is going to be really exciting and we have lots of celebrations planned. Yet we’re in it for the long game and our success doesn’t stop here. We are constantly looking at how we can make the next 40 years of Seymour a thriving success, pushing the business to the next level in every way possible.”

Seymour recognised for its commitment to inspiring the engineers of the future.

Seymour Civil Engineering’s passion for inspiring and nurturing future generations of civil engineers has been formally recognised, as the company was presented with the Mike Gardiner Cup at this year’s ICE North East annual dinner, for the second year running.

The Mike Gardiner Cup is an award presented to the company who has shown outstanding support of the Institute of Civil Engineers Education Programme, and has been proactive in engaging with the younger generations across the North East.

Kevin Byrne, Seymour’s Managing Director, who was presented with the cup at the ICE annual dinner at the end of April, said: “As a business we see the importance of inspiring the next generations to consider a career within the civil engineering industry and we are passionate about showcasing the industry to the engineers of the future in any way we can.

“It’s no secret that our industry is facing a pretty serious skills shortage, one that if not tackled will have a serious impact on the future of the civil engineering sector. Seymour has an apprenticeship programme that we’re incredibly proud of, that has supported young engineers into the business and has given them the grounds to really excel within the industry.

“In addition to this, we also recognise the importance of engaging with the engineers of the future as early as possible, to ensure that 13/14 year olds choosing their subjects at GCSE have all the information they need to consider a career within engineering.”

Over the past 12 months, Seymour has attended a number of interactive events across the North East, showcasing the ICE’s cable stayed bridge, an activity which gives school children the opportunity to have a go at building and dismantling a 13m span cable stayed bridge.

Kevin added: “Civil engineers design, build and maintain the world around us and make our day-to-day activities possible. Interactive activities like the cable stayed bridge reveal to younger students the impact that civil engineering has in our modern society.

“The bridge exercise has been even more impactful this year as for many of the children taking part in the activity, the construction of the Northern Spire, the cable-stayed bridge over the River Wear in Sunderland, is happening right on their doorsteps.”

As well as exhibiting at numerous events, Seymour has strong connections with a number of local schools and colleges, with employees acting as STEM ambassadors and CITB Construction ambassadors committing time and resources to attending career events, pushing the opportunities available within the engineering sector.

Taking home, the Mike Gardiner Cup has kicked started what the company hopes will be a successful awards season as it celebrates its 40th year anniversary.

Seymour Civil Engineering has made it down to the final in seven out of 14 categories, totalling nine shortlistings across all the categories, at the 2018 Construction Excellence North East awards, as well as being shortlisted in three categories, including Company of the Year, in this year’s Hartlepool Business Awards.

At the recent Civil Engineering Contractors Association North East awards, they swept the board winning Project of the Year, Going the Extra Mile Award, Health and Safety Company of the Year and Training Company of the Year.

D Day looms as businesses prepare for GDPR

GDPR, the four dreaded letters that are ruining lives up and down the country.

And why is it such a life ruiner? Cause it’s a massive ball ache that’s why!

 

The development of the internet over the past 20 years has totally flipped the way we communicate on its head, and as the current Data Protection Act hasn’t been updated since 1998, pre-smart phones and social media, these new regulations have been a long time coming.

 

With D Day, or rather G-Day, a matter of weeks away (May 25), this week the Publicity Seekers team and I have dedicated our lives to getting our heads around this absolute minefield and continued finalising new processes and policies, both for ourselves and our clients.

 

I’m pleased to say that we’ve got all our affairs in order and are ready to welcome GDPR with open arms, but it’s still pretty worrying to hear SME’s say ‘we’ve still got ages to sort stuff out’ or ‘I don’t think it’s going to impact us much’.

 

SME’s are just as much in the firing line when it comes to GDPR as UK brand giants. If anything, the repercussions of a data breach will be even more disastrous.

 

So what’s the impact of GDPR from a PR perspective?

 

Well, apart from the truly horrific fines that businesses are at risk of receiving, SME’s out there, good luck coming up trumps with a cool £17m, on top of this, if you’re company is being inspected or suffers a data breach, it’s not going to do anything for your reputation.

 

After the 25th May we’ll be entering a new data era, where people will have much greater expectations on how their personal information is managed and much greater rights to ask for that information to be edited or deleted all together.

 

And it’s not just customers or clients we’re talking about here. Its employees, suppliers, partners, any company stakeholders basically. That’s a lot of people’s information to consider.

 

So what have I taken away from our week of GDPR?

 

Well the main thing I’ve taken away is that there’s a hell of a lot to take in. It’s safe to say that by 5pm on Tuesday afternoon, my brain probably resembled a pile of scrambled egg.

What is important to remember is that GDPR isn’t and should never be seen as a tick box exercise.

In order to be compliant with the new regulations there needs to be a major shift in process and most importantly attitude of everyone within a business.

 

If this means running training courses to get everyone up to speed, DO IT!

If this means running regular fresher courses in the next few months, DO IT!

If it means getting a professional in to audit your systems and set you an action plan, DO IT!

 

Yes, preparation is time consuming and an expense to your business, but I’m sure you’d much rather this smaller expense now, than face an unpayable fine later down the line.

J&B celebrates double shortlisting for the MRW National Recycling Awards 2018

NORTH East based J&B Recycling is in line for a national award after being recognised for the exceptional work they deliver within the waste management industry.

The well-established recycling company, has been shortlisted for both Independent Operator of the Year and the Efficiency Award at the 2018 National Recycling Awards.

The annual ceremony, which brings together over 650 recycling and waste management professionals at The Hilton on Park Lane in London, is recognised as being the most respected within the industry.

J&B’s Managing Director, Vikki Jackson-Smith, said: “To be shortlisted amongst some of the biggest names in the UK’s waste management sector is an amazing achievement for the business. The past financial year has been an exceptional year for J&B Recycling. With an abundance of major investments and record financial growth, coupled with efficiency processes that have been of massive benefit to the business.’’

The shortlisting has come just weeks after the company celebrated its 20th anniversary with a series of investments made to its plant, machinery and vehicle fleet, totalling £1.3m.

“Myself and the team at J&B are incredibly proud of our existing position as the largest independent waste management firm in the North East of England. And national recognition, as J&B Recycling celebrates its 20th year of trading, would be a real honour and privilege,’’ Vikki added.

Over the past 12 months, J&B has won other prestigious awards in recognition of its hard work within the trade. Late last year the company was crowned ‘Recycling Firm of the Year’ by the International Corporate LiveWire Innovation & Excellence Awards 2018.

With the capacity for the handling and sorting of up to 75,000 tonnes of recyclable materials per annum, the company achieved record growth for the financial year ending 2017, reporting a turnover of £15.7m.

Construction workers makes Egg – ceptional donation to Newcastle food bank

Thanks to the generosity of team members from Seymour Civil Engineering, hundreds of children in Newcastle will have a smile on their faces this Easter.

Employees from the North East-based civil engineering firm teamed up with Beamish Museum staff to collect over 200 chocolate Easter eggs, which have been donated to the Newcastle West End Foodbank, helping parents who can’t afford them this Easter.

Tom Brown, Site Manager at Seymour, received a message from Greg Tennet, who volunteers at the foodbank, asking if he could contribute to the shortage of Easter eggs they have received this year.

Tom said: ‘’As a parent myself, this got me pretty upset knowing that families in the North East struggle to afford a £1 Easter egg for their child. After a chat with all the site staff and site operatives at from Seymour, Beamish Museum and Linear Recruitment, we decided to donate as many Easter eggs as we could.’’

The company, who are working on the £18 million ‘Remaking Beamish’ expansion project at the open air museum in County Durham, came together and managed a total count of 212 eggs with a further £20 in donations.

Tom continued: ‘’It was a great moment turning up to the foodbank with bags and bags of eggs, the staff were smiling from ear to ear. To most people, it’s only a bit of chocolate, it’s pretty meaningless, but to those less fortunate it can potentially brighten their whole day.’’

He continued: “I could not be prouder of my team; they have no idea how happy they will make so many children in the North East this Easter. As a network, we want to see more people helped out of crisis and fewer people needing foodbanks in the future.’’

Newcastle West End Foodbank helps provide for around 40,000 people in Newcastle every year, but this would not be possible without contribution from the public.

Hairdresser Greg, who volunteers regularly at the foodbank said: “Tom and I have been friends since childhood. I reached out to him on the off chance, so when he got back to me to let me know he’d asked everyone at work I was amazed, one little idea can go such a long way. “

He added: “If we live in a city where people are going hungry we aren’t doing enough. Direct action is so important, so many foodbanks need contributions which means we need to do much more to donate and to help each other.’’

Newcastle West End Foodbank, founded in 2004, is part of The Trussell Trust’s network of 428 foodbanks, working to tackle food poverty and hunger in local communities, as well as across the UK.

Greg continued: ‘‘I organised a ‘The Big Family Food shop’ event at Christmas, which managed to raise over £3,000 worth of food which was amazing, but events like that are something that need to be contributed to all year round.’’

“Contributions to the cause don’t need to be expensive, even if it’s just a few tins that are sitting in the back of your cupboard it all helps. Hygiene products are also welcomed, every little thing adds up and it makes such a big difference to the people who need it most.’’ He added.

With one in five of the UK population live below the poverty line, The Trussell Trust’s Foodbank Network provided 1,182,954 three-day emergency food supplies and support to those in crisis. Of these, over 430,000 went to children.

If you want to donate, Newcastle West End Food bank is located in Grainger Market, Newcastle City Centre, alternatively you can visit there site at https://newcastlewestend.foodbank.org.uk/

J&B Recycling celebrates 20th anniversary with £1.3m investment

A North East recycling firm has celebrated the beginning of its 20th anniversary with a series of investments totalling £1.3m.

J&B Recycling, the region’s largest independent recycling firm has rolled out an £800,000 plant upgrade and made further investments into machinery and its vehicle fleet across its three sites totalling a further £500,000.

The two-phase plant upgrade, that was completed in January, not only allows the company to take an additional 11,000 tonnes of waste per year but also allows J&B to continue complying with strict overseas regulations and ensures it is prepared for the future.

Vikki Jackson-Smith, Managing Director at J&B Recycling said: “The significant investments we have made to our Hartlepool MRF have been key drivers in J&B’s strategy for continued growth and sustainability, allowing us not only give comfort to our customers but to also increase our efficiency, flexibility and prepare for any future changes in the market.

“The investment will also massively support our continuing goal of maximum efficiency and high quality levels of service when working with our customers, especially in updates to our new vehicle fleet. Just last year we reported that 98% of our collections were on time when analysed over six months and this year we want to further improve on that already high percentage.”

The new plant includes more advanced automated technology, aimed at achieving the highest quality of materials for the firms end markets.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who visited J&B for a first look at the new plant, was incredibly impressed by the quality and passion of the business.

He said: “Over the past 20 years, J&B Recycling has gone from strength to strength. Their drive for success is shown in their adaptability and willingness to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way.

“The new facility was seriously impressive and I was encouraged by J&B’s plans for the future. It’s wonderful to see such business growth and investment into the Tees Valley. Their commitment to the region combined with their expansion is great news for the firm and our area.

“I very much look forward to working with J&B Recycling in the future and eagerly await hearing about their next achievement.”

Vikki added: “It was great for Ben to come and visit and see what a thriving business we are in the region especially when we are just beginning our 20th anniversary celebrations. We have made a number of upgrades to our plants over the last eight years, but this latest set of expansions have been the most prominent. In the waste management industry, upgrades are essential as operations need to reflect the changes in the consumer market.

“Since our last major expansion back in 2009, the make-up of material we receive has changed dramatically and the new plant has been designed to add flexibility to our operations.

“It allows for a variety of process configurations and can handle different input streams with ease, whether it is fully comingled, comingled without glass, triple or dual stream, we can offer maximum recovery of the recyclable content.”

J&B has also purchased three new Liedherr LH22 material handlers worth around £550k, to ensure efficient operations.

Vikki concluded: “We have a strong line of development capital funding from the Business Growth Fund (BGF) that we acquired back in 2014. The fund has a figure of £2.6 billion of development capital, and we are not limited to how much of that we can access.”

The expansion supports J&B Recycling’s vision for future acquisitions and business growth. For the 2016/17 financial year, the company reported a turnover of £15.7m, increased its gross profit by 159% with an EBITDA increase up 87.2% from 2015/16.

 

House Builder takes valuable steps towards tackling the accessible housing deficit

WITH just over 7% of UK housing providing the basic accessibility features required for the elderly or people with a disability, the country’s accessible housing deficit is expected to reach a crisis point.

Statistics show that one in five disabled people are living in homes which require adaptation to meet their needs, and research carried out by national charity Aspire, indicates that the number of wheelchair accessible homes being built is on the decline, with over 20,000 wheelchair users still waiting for suitable, affordable housing.

One SME house builder, that has taken valuable steps towards combatting this growing issue is Yorkshire based firm SB Homes.

By partnering with accessibility solutions, CIBES Lift UK, the developer has been able to adapt homes for people of all ages and physical abilities within it’s Empire Works development in Huddersfield.

The latest development is set to include two T-shaped apartment buildings, comprising of 24 two-bedroom properties. Within the two buildings, CIBES Lift UK is installing four A5000 lifts in order to ensure the properties are accessible.

The development will also include a number of three and four bedroom houses. Buyers of these properties are encouraged to have shared input into the design of the property, and as part of this are given the option to have a domestic lift installed in to the property.

Gary Sullivan, marketing and sales director at Cibes, said: “A staggering amount of councils in England don’t have plans to address the lack of accessible housing, so it is becoming more and more important for construction firms to take on this responsibility and prioritise accessibility within new developments.

“When many housing developers think of domestic lifts they tend to picture a bulky, obstructive eye sore that will ruin the aesthetic of the property and put off potential buyers. This is the not the case at all, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Domestic lifts are often considered a selling point by potential buyers as it means the properties can be a ‘forever home’.

“Accessible homes aren’t just beneficial for people with disabilities and mobility issues, they improve independent living for older people, as well as families with young children.

After previously working on a number of developments with the company, CIBES Lift UK was the first port of call for SB Homes, who have a number of developments across West Yorkshire.

Stephen Byram, Managing Director at SB Homes said: “Accessible housing is a huge issue for the industry right now. Many people who have requirements for additional support are struggling to live their day-to-day lives because their own homes are simply not geared to help them and are totally unsuitable for their needs.

“Being an SME house building firm it’s important that we understand the needs of the people in the area and are fine-tuned into what’s required to make the properties as safe and comfortable for potential owners as possible.

“When we looked in to the local demand and our target audience, we knew we needed to make accessibility a priority. It’s helped us market the properties to people who wouldn’t have even considered moving there without them. Often, accessibility is the first thing that potential customers ask us about.

“Offering accessible housing, in an area that is crying out for it, is a great way for us to support local people and is part of us giving back to the areas in which we develop.”

CIBES Lift UK has worked with a number of construction companies, installing step-free access solutions to ensure residential developments are fully accessible.

To learn more about CIBES Lift UK visit http://platformlifts.co.uk or call 0800 085 0269.

Hartlepool College of Further Education flies the flag for the region

HARTLEPOOL College of Further Education has been shortlisted for the ‘Apprenticeship Programme of the Year’ at the TES Further Education Awards 2018.

The award is one of the highest accolades bestowed within the apprenticeship industry and organisations across the country compete each year for the prestigious honour.

The College, which has been ranked number one general further education provider of apprenticeships in the North of England, was recognised by the judges for its strategic and innovative delivery of apprenticeships, as well as its outstanding commitment to supporting both its students and business partners.

Darren Hankey, Principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Hartlepool College of Further Education has been shortlisted for such a prestigious national award.

“This builds on the College’s recent OFSTED judgement and is testament to the hard work of everyone who works on the College’s apprenticeship programme. It also reflects the quality of the employers with which the College works.”

During its recent visit to the college, OFSTED, said: “Management of the apprenticeship provision is outstanding. The courses available meet the needs of employers and apprentices very well.”

Most recently, the College was one of the few to nationally buck the trend of falling apprenticeship starts last quarter.

When apprenticeship starts across the country saw a decrease of 61% following levy reforms. Hartlepool College of Further Education saw a 6% apprenticeship increase, with further significant growth in the apprenticeship enrolments expected for 2018.

Darren continued: “After the implementation of the apprenticeship reforms earlier this year, it was crucial for us to handle it the correct way and guide not just our College partners but also other businesses in the region about how the reforms would impact them.

“This has resulted in not only the strengthening of the College’s relationships across the region and us retaining 100% of our apprenticeships but has also resulted in new relationships that have in time developed into new apprenticeship programmes.”

The College works with over 500 firms, in sectors encompassing energy, advanced manufacturing, construction, digital and health, engaging over 750 apprentices, two thirds of which are aged 16-18.

Darren said: “We have had an absolute record year, our enrolments are up, our apprenticeship programmes are up and earlier this year our apprenticeship programme was deemed Outstanding by OFSTED. This really is the perfect way to end the year and we cannot wait to attend the award ceremony.”