North West business briefs: Manchester Metrolink; Weightmans; Unify by Bruntwood; Communications Plus; MCF

Manchester Metrolink passengers are set for a service boost this summer, with the introduction of more frequent off peak trams to cope with increasing demand.

From Monday, July 5, trams will run at least every 12 minutes across the network all day, representing a significant enhancement to the current 20-minute off peak frequency. In a further boost, and to increase capacity in the areas where it is most needed, a six-minute service will operate on the busiest lines at the busiest times – and later running trams will once again be in place across the weekend.

The changes are the next step towards returning to a ‘normal’ pre-pandemic service and are being made in response to a rise in the number of leisure trips being made – which will continue throughout the summer – and to meet and support the increased demand expected from the move to step four on the Government’s road map and full return of hospitality.

With patronage growing at different rates across the region, the changes will be closely monitored, and a flexible approach to the use of double trams will be maintained to ensure they run where they are needed most. All available trams will be put into service, including the new ones as they are commissioned.

A range of safety measures intended to keep people safe when using Metrolink will continue to remain in place, including hand sanitiser dispensers at the busiest stops, enhanced cleaning, flexible ticketing options, dedicated ‘trambassador staff’ and TravelSafe Partnership ‘days of action’ – to promote safe travel and engage with passengers about coronavirus rules and guidance.

Transport for Greater Manchester’s head of Metrolink, Danny Vaughan, said: “While patronage is still someway off pre-pandemic levels, our traditionally busier lines are the ones where we are seeing the biggest increases and these changes not only mean we can cater for this demand now, they enable us to meet future growth. We will monitor our passengers’ travel patterns closely and continue to be flexible in our approach, ensuring our services and trams support people as they return to work, the shops, bars and restaurants and major events.”

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Helen Taylor

Liverpool-based national law firm, Weightmans, has launched pioneering new policies to support its people affected by menopausal symptoms and when undergoing fertility treatment.

The new policies seek to both empower and educate, while also outlining the rights and responsibilities of team managers and individuals. The policies will be supported by training for managers and regular educational events to raise awareness amongst teams.

It is estimated that around eight of 10 of menopausal people are in work, and, therefore, undertaking their role while enduring symptoms ranging from hot flushes to depression and reduced concentration. While most commonly associated with women over 50, as many as one in 20 experience an early menopause. Fertility treatment is on the increase with 68,000 treatment cycles carried out every year in the UK and one in six couples (3.5 million people) affected. It can be a long, anxious journey for those undergoing fertility procedures and many are unsure of what rights, if any, they have as employees.

Helen Taylor, HR director at Weightmans, said: “We are pleased to be one of the first law firms to formalise our support framework for staff affected by the menopause or undergoing fertility procedures. Removing the stigma or taboo that normally surrounds such issues is crucial in ensuring we can speak more openly about such things and offer the correct care to our people.

“At Weightmans we are working hard to ensure we are there for every single member of our workforce, offering the right support for whatever they are going through. It’s also important for our people to understand the impact of the menopause or fertility treatment can have on those going through it, so they can better empathise and feel equipped to have supportive conversations with their colleagues.”

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From left: Shannon Parker (Pure Innovations), Jamie Read, Peter Lee (Unify)

Facilities management venture, Unify by Bruntwood, has partnered with Pure Innovations through the Supported Internship programme to support young people with disabilities and from disadvantaged groups in the North West into work. The partnership will facilitate up to four internship placements per year within Unify, arming people with three months’ experience with the potential to be offered permanent roles at the organisation.

Pure Innovations is a social impact organisation which supports disabled people to achieve independent lifestyles. The Supported Internship Programme operates out of Bruntwood SciTech’s Citylabs in Manchester. Pure Innovations approached Unify in December 2020 looking for placements after many of its work experience programmes dried up during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Experiencing a surge in demand for its cleaning and facilities management services, Unify immediately responded, offering a week-long work trial to a Pure Innovations candidate Jamie Read. Successfully completing his trial, Jamie, who has a learning disability, has now been in permanent employment with Unify since March this year.

Esther Park, head of people at Unify, said: “Our business model is designed to offer new opportunities to people of all backgrounds and abilities, which is why our partnership with fellow North West business Pure Innovations and the Supported Internship programme is so important. Jamie has only been with us for a few months and he’s settled in really well. He’s got real attention to detail, he’s brilliant to work with and we know we can rely on him to do a great job.”

Louise Parrott-Bates, chief executive at Pure Innovations, said: “Supporting our young people to find meaningful work has been a significant challenge over the last 12 months. Many of the businesses we typically work with have remained closed for the majority of that period. We’re delighted to onboard Unify as a partner and expand the scope of opportunities we can offer to the young people we work with.”

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From left: Ben Bottomley, Steve Harrison

St Helens-based B2B telecoms business Communications Plus has signed up to support Burnley FC in the Community, the football club’s charity arm.

The business, which employs more than 200 people across the North of England and Wales, is the first company to join the charity under its new ‘All Onside’ partnership deal and will support the organisation in helping to transform the lives of people in the Burnley area.

Ben Bottomley, who joined Burnley FC in the Community from FC Halifax Town earlier this year to lead the charity’s business partnerships strategy, said: “It’s fantastic to have Communications Plus on board once again this season. As well as providing us with our business mobile services, they are great supporters of our organisation and we would not be able to carry out our vital community work, helping to improve lives for people in Burnley, without the extremely positive relationships we have with community-minded businesses like Communications Plus.”

Established in 2014, Burnley FC in the Community employs 150 people who, aided by a large group of local volunteers, work across areas such as education and employability, community welfare and inclusion, and football development to deliver positive change in and around Burnley.

Steve Harrison, business development manager at Communications Plus, said: “We’ve worked with and supported the charity for a number of years and it was a pleasure to sign up again and help make a difference in the Burnley community.”

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From left: Wayne and Bernie Dullaghan

Two brothers who launched an ecommerce order fulfilment business during the COVID pandemic have gone from an empty warehouse in their hometown of Liverpool to a full capacity fulfilment centre, with plans to open a second site soon which would create up to 20 jobs in total.

Brothers Bernie and Wayne Dullaghan quit their jobs and made the decision to invest every penny they had into fulfilling a long-time dream of running a business together.

A serious motorbike accident three years ago left Bernie fighting for life in hospital and the money he received meant he had the capital to invest. Despite facing years of recovery, Bernie saw it as an opportunity to change the direction of his career. He said: “Before my accident, I was the general manager of Bingo Halls for 15 years. Wayne brought the logistics expertise having worked in the industry for over a decade with some of the fast-growing brands in e-commerce and retail. He had witnessed the huge growth in ecommerce during the pandemic and convinced me that this was the perfect time to chase our dream.”

The duo officially opened the doors to their Aintree site in November and even though they have had to conduct all of their business online with no site visits allowed have managed to fill their fulfilment centre in just six months.

Wayne said: “It’s been an incredible first six months. I knew the demand was there, but we are already way ahead of our forecast. Most of our business has come via word of mouth, we didn’t even have a website when we first launched the business. I think what is really impressing our customers is our proactive approach to ecommerce order fulfilment, we work extremely hard to become a valuable extension of their business and identify opportunities for them to improve their customer experience.”

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