Coronavirus update: the latest news from East Midlands businesses

Wise Living, the build-to-rent specialist, says it has seen a spike in lettings across all its schemes, including the iconic Mansfield Brewery redevelopment, The Old Brewery.

Wise Living believes the lockdown is helping drive “unprecedented” demand for these properties for a variety of reasons; the shift in market demand, potential tenants having extra time on their hands to research local properties and PRS tenants realising their current home is not quite what they are looking for, leading them to discover the advantages of renting a Wise Living home from a professional landlord.

The firm says it has reserved over 80% of the first phase of homes at its Mansfield-based development, due to be released in June and August, in just a few weeks.

Anne Malone, head of lettings at Wise Living said: “We took the unusual step of releasing the properties at The Old Brewery in Mansfield, just after the lockdown was imposed. Despite having no show homes to view, in the past five weeks we have let/reserved over 80% of phase one, and if it continues at this current rate, all homes in phase one will be let before the lockdown is over.”

Distinction, the digital agency with its HQ in Nottingham and additional offices in London and Boston, USA, has won the Kentico Site of the Year Awards 2019 for the healthcare category for

James Bloor, Distinction’s managing director and co-founder, said, “We’re proud to work with Bluebird Care, one of the top homecare companies in the UK, whose community of care assistants and homecare customers are facing incredibly difficult challenges right now. So, whilst winning the award for best website in the healthcare sector is a fantastic achievement for our team, it’s also the perfect moment to say thank you to our care workers and to shine the light on the good work Bluebird Care is doing to support the care community.”

Bluebird Care is the fastest growing care franchise in the UK with experience in franchising and care provision not to be found elsewhere. As a leading provider they deliver 20,000 care visits a day. There are almost 2million care workers in the UK, contributing to one of the largest workforces, and at the moment they are on the front-line supporting some of the most vulnerable people through one of the biggest crises our generation will face in its lifetime.

Hannah Banfield, marketing and communications director, Bluebird Care, said: “We are delighted that Distinction won the award for Kentico Site of the Year 2019 for our website. The site has to deliver for multiple stakeholders including prospective customers and potential recruits as well as satisfying the needs of our network of franchisees. In partnership with Distinction, we have been able to create a website that not only achieves that but gives us the flexibility to continue to change and adapt quickly in line with our marketing strategy on an ongoing basis.”

To help provide financial aid to those working in care who need it, Bluebird Care’s network of franchise owners is supporting the Care Workers Charity COVID-19 Emergency Fund.

If you would like to donate to the Care Workers Charity COVID-19 Emergency Fund, you can visit their JustGiving site here.

Alex Broxson

Locked-in With… Alex Broxson, head of marketing, Retail Assit

Who are you locked in with?
My husband, Lee, and our two children, aged 5 and 2 years old.

How has the lockdown and working from home been for you so far?
I’m going to be honest here: during the first week of lockdown, I had bit of a wobble on the first day. It was the initial shock of the situation. I felt a bit overwhelmed by the pressure of trying to manage a really busy and responsible job and marketing team at a time of crisis, and to also have to manage schooling for my 5 year-old whilst stopping my 2-year-old wrecking the joint! However, a couple of weeks in now, I feel like I’ve adapted. I’ve found a working routine that works for me and my husband to try and juggle everything. Our directors have also been really supportive, along with my husband, and it’s been useful to speak to wider team members about how they’re doing, as well as my friends who are also finding themselves in this multifaceted role of being a working professional, a parent, a teacher and trying to keep everything together!

What has been the best thing about staying in?
Not having the commute into the city! It’s great that some mornings I can get a bit of work in before all the calls start, or I can get some exercise in before I start work. I love running and fitness anyway, so not only is this great for my fitness and wellbeing, but also for my mental sanity, too! This is something that was pretty impossible before all of this, as I would have to be out of the house with both kids dressed and ready by 7:15am in order to get into Nottingham by 9am. Fitness for me used to have to start at around 8pm, which some nights is too late.

And what have you missed the most?
My wider family and the complete freedom to do what you want. The ability to just pop round to your parents or go out with friends is what I miss the most. In a work sense, I miss the daily interaction from my immediate team, friends and colleagues. I think it really makes you value the personal interaction even more. Being a very sociable person, I really do miss this element. Whilst we are utilising Microsoft Teams to its utmost, there’s nothing that can really replace face-to-face interaction. At the weekend, we have been using House Party to catch up with friends and this has been great too.

What previously essential thing have you realised is not actually essential?
Usually our weekday routine has to run like clockwork so that everyone gets to where they need to be at the right time and our weekends are equally busy. So, it’s made me reflect that we don’t always need to be rushing around everywhere at the weekend. I’ve actually quite enjoyed not having loads of commitments and the ability to just be at home. I thought I really would struggle with this, as I’m always someone who likes being out, but I’ve realised it’s actually quite nice. It’s also amazing how many jobs you can find to do around the house and garden…!

What are the changes you’ve made that you plan on continuing when restrictions are lifted?
We are yet to see what ‘normal’ starts to look like again, but I would say there are certainly things we will all learn from this and value going forward. There may be some things that we don’t rush back to; this period has shown how we can work well remotely – and can handle lots of things being thrown at us.  I thought I was good at multi-tasking before, but this has taken it to a whole new level.  I think I will also have a whole new appreciation for freedom, but also the appreciation for time at home. We don’t actually need to be out all the time and I hope that I can continue to slow down – sometimes, anyway!

Have you made progress on any of your bucket list items?
If we’re referring to a bucket list whilst in lock down, then it would be getting even fitter. I’ve always loved running anyway, but I’m loving being able to exercise before I start work, or after I finish.

What is the first thing you will do when isolation ends?
Other than seeing friends and family, I cannot wait to go out for dinner and drinks. Later this year, Retail Assist will turn 21 – I’m thinking that we’ll certainly be ready for that 21st party! We’ll make sure that it’s a good one.

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