Coronavirus business update: Latest news across the North West

Grants of nearly £1m from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will give adult learners the equipment they need to continue with their courses online.

The grants, of between £15,000 and £40,000 will go to adult dducation providers to ensure that learners who have struggled to access IT during COVID-19 have the opportunity to access computer equipment and the required technology to ensure they can complete any online learning

Many courses are continuing online teaching, but without access to suitable technology and equipment, learners are unable to carry on with their studies. Providers, including colleges, independent training providers and local authority providers of adult and community learning, will now receive the grants to enable them to provide learners with appropriate resources.

The £915,000 in funding comes from the £55m Adult Education Budget, which, due to its devolution agreement, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has been responsible for commissioning and funding since August 2019.

It aims to work with adults – aged 19 and over – who live in the Liverpool City Region to provide the skills and learning they need to equip them for work, an apprenticeship or other learning.

Contracted providers have been given guidance as to how this funding can be used to benefit learners, such as supporting those who are self-isolating or caring for others affected by coronavirus and unable to go to classes, those who don’t have internet access at home or don’t have a suitable device on which to complete the necessary online course work.

Steve Rotheram, the Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said: “These past few months have shown how valuable digital skills are and they’ll be even more valuable as more and more jobs and businesses embrace online working.

“We’re investing almost £1m to ensure that learners across the region have access to the tech that they need to keep up their studies. We will do our best to make sure, wherever possible, that nobody falls behind or is left behind because of the difficulties caused by COVID-19.

“I want this to help people across the region to succeed, not just in the coming weeks and months with their learning, but in years to come where they can play a key role in our recovery.”

The first Adult Education provider grants should be made available in November. For more information go to: https://www.liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk/adult-education-budget/

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Hayley Cannon, left, and Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy teacher Jodie Finigan

With Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign continuing to dominate the political and social agenda, three Runcorn-based organisations are calling on like-minded local businesses to join their campaign to feed local children.

Seven hundred meals have already been provided via the scheme, which is led by Runcorn-based employment agency D&D Recruit, Runcorn charity All or Nothing, and Really Good Food Company (RGFC) who, together, are hoping to make what will be a crucial difference to local children and their families.

Hayley Cannon, operations director at D&D Recruit, said: “Nobody has all the answers right now but what we do know is that struggling families can’t wait for ministers to debate this further and policies to be ironed out.

“This is totally a-political, some local families just need a helping hand and we want to try and do our bit. We’ve already delivered over 700 and I think we will be way past 1,000 by tomorrow, that is the scale of the issue and that is just locally.”

John Edge, founder and trainer at All or Nothing, which aims to provide an avenue for the people of Runcorn to develop healthier minds and bodies, said: “With the Government blocking the free school meals plan over the half term a few of us got together last week to come up with a plan to help the kids in Halton who need support right now. Basically, we will be providing over 1,000 packed lunches on a daily basis thanks to our friends at RGFC and D&D Recruit.

“They will be made at RGFC’s 5-star rated hygiene unit in Runcorn and then the D&D drivers and logistics team will be doing drop offs at different locations around the town in the morning. This is our minimum goal but we hope that with a bit more support from other backers we might be able to scale this.”

Liam Rhodes, managing director from onsite catering specialist RGFC said: “I think we were all disappointed to see Marcus Rashford’s motion defeated but then we thought, what can we do as a business to help out here? We have the kit, we have the staff and, most crucially, we have the burning desire to help here because it really is needed.

“I’m proud to be working with All or Nothing and D&D Recruit on this and we hope to play a small part in making a big difference.”

D&D Recruit’s Hayley Cannon added: “If you are a business that would like to donate time, resources or funding to support us, contact endchildhunger@ddrecruit.co.uk. If you are a family that would like us to include your kids on this can you send us a message with how many packed lunches you need per day and what location you are in.”

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Laura Howard (RWinvest) and Dave Critchley

RWinvest, a Liverpool-based powerhouse in property investment, has donated the cost of 1,000 packed lunches for disadvantaged children and families in Liverpool during the half-term break.

Working in partnership with Liverpool chef Dave Critchley, who inspired the Knowsley Kitchen and Liverpool Independent Delivered Services (LIDS), RWinvest has helped to fund the meals which are being distributed to children in disadvantaged areas of Merseyside this week.

An increased spotlight on school holiday hunger has been in the news since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and since Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford started his campaign for increased free school meals.

RWinvest is one of a number of North West companies that has stepped in to help families in the region. The company’s financial support has also helped to keep hospitality industry staff, who are helping to prepare and deliver the meals, in work.

Michael Gledhill, director at RWinvest, said: “As a business, we felt that we had to do something to help children facing hunger. These are very difficult times and many families are struggling to put food on the table.

“We are a successful business and so it is important for us to give something back to the community around us, so we decided to pull together with a nearby hospitality company to deliver 1,000 packed lunches to children in the Liverpool region.”

He added: “This is an initiative we are looking to support during the Christmas period, too, because no child should have to go hungry.”

RWinvest specialises in buy-to-let investments on residential developments.

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