North West business briefs: UA92; Sale Sharks; RSK; Oldham Council; Merseyrail

University Academy 92 (UA92) is introducing an innovative package of benefits designed to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds access higher education.

Inspired by Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign, and UA92’s own vision to make higher education accessible to all, UA92 has created a free £5,000 support package of education essentials. The package includes a laptop, data, travel to UA92, lunches throughout the year and a home starter voucher, providing students with the fundamental support they need for successful study.

Gary Neville, co-founder of UA92, said: “At UA92, we aim to make higher education inclusive and accessible to everyone, regardless of background. Sadly, young people from communities where financial deprivation is high often miss out on the chance to continue their education so we were keen to develop a package of support for those who truly need it. We’ve worked hard with our partners to create the Make It For Real initiative to offer more young people the opportunity to continue their education and thrive, irrespective of traditional barriers.”

CEO of UA92, Sara Prowse, said: “Our Make It For Real initiative underpins UA92’s principles of accessibility, social mobility and inclusivity. Currently, only 26% of students eligible for free school meals progress to higher education, compared to 45% of those who don’t receive free school meals. This gap is the highest it’s been since 2006.

“These statistics make it clear that much more can be done to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. For many, continuing education beyond what is compulsory is deemed unaffordable or inaccessible. This package is designed to help these young people think again about higher education by providing them with some of the fundamentals for successful study which are often forgotten costs.”

UA92 is working in partnership with a number of brands to deliver the Make It For Real package. Students eligible for the grant will each receive a Microsoft Surface Pro laptop and unlimited TalkTalk data for three years, Co-op lunch vouchers (five days a week, 52 weeks of the year for the length of their course) £150 Dunelm home vouchers and free travel to get to UA92.


Premiership rugby club, Sale Sharks, has teamed up with multi-award winning Manchester-based content agency Trunk to launch its new 2021/2022 Macron kit.

The Trunk team captured video from iconic locations all over the North West including The Christie Hospital, in Manchester, and Lytham St Anne’s beach. And Trunk animators also produced a beautiful fabric animation running throughout to bring the piece together and capture the theme of the campaign – the ‘Fabric of the North.’

The team worked with Sharks’ brand and marketing team on the project, shooting with Sharks fans of all ages, as well as Sale non-exec director and England world cup winner, Jason Robinson, and player Josh Beaumont. Trunk, which recently scooped three European Content Award wins for Best Sponsorship, Best Collaboration & Best Video, delivered the finished video in time to launch the new kit ahead of the 2021/22 Gallagher Premiership season.

Benjamin Harrap, head of film at Trunk, said: “When Sale Sharks got in touch with us regarding this project, we all jumped at the opportunity. Sport is in our DNA, so to produce such a high quality video for our region’s leading rugby club is something we’re all incredibly proud of.”

Sale Sharks’ head of marketing, Claire Butters, said: “From start to finish, Trunk were the perfect partner for this project. Being from the region themselves, Adam and the team understood the story we wanted to tell with the new kit, and they were able to bring it to life better than we ever imagined. They were fantastic to work with and we’re all really proud of the finished video and campaign.”


Steph Wray

Nature Positive, a boutique management consultancy, has been launched as a subsidiary of Wirral-based international environmental, engineering and technical services business RSK Group. Nature Positive will offer bespoke services to companies that want to understand their dependence and potential impacts on nature and natural capital, both directly and through their supply chains.

Based in Bath, Nature Positive’s tailored services will include biodiversity and natural capital assessments, supply chain risk assessments, due diligence, and the practical mitigation and offsetting of environmental impacts for companies and their investors around the world.

Nature Positive managing director, Stephanie Wray, said: “Directly or indirectly, every business depends on the natural environment to survive. These dependencies are often hidden in the value chain, off the balance sheet, and with the natural resources assumed to be free and readily available. But changes in our natural environment, such as those occurring as a result of climate change or because of changes in policy or public perception, can quickly affect businesses, thereby exposing material risks.

“Business has the potential to be a positive force for nature. Increasingly, companies are seeing the commercial advantages of having sustainability at the heart of their organisations, over both the short and the long term. That is where Nature Positive comes in. We are environmental scientists who understand business. We quantify businesses’s dependence on nature and, in partnership with our clients, reshape strategy and operations to unlock the commercial benefits of a nature-positive approach.”

Alan Ryder, founder and chief executive of Nature Positive’s parent, RSK, said: “Investors are interested in whether a company has good environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. Although most have a good understanding of climate change, they are only just beginning to talk about their investment targets’ biodiversity footprints. And yet the loss of biodiversity is one of the most significant threats to society and to the economy. Nature Positive aims to change a business’s focus and to tackle this issue in a pragmatic and effective way.”


Cllr Arooj Shah

Oldham Council’s cabinet has agreed a new approach that looks to get more residents walking, cycling and using public transport. Streets For All is a new Greater Manchester-wide strategy which highlights how all streets, roads and highways can be made more accessible and cleaner.

As part of the plan the council would look to work with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and other stakeholders to design more welcoming and greener streets. This new approach would benefit residents in a number of ways, such as: Cutting the number of cars on the roads would mean less harmful emissions; making it easier for people to fit more physical activity into their daily lives; giving them better access to public transport, especially for those with mobility issues; creating safer streets for pedestrians and road users; and as part of the strategy the council would also look at how existing road and street layouts could be improved.

A number of pilot projects are also being considered as part of the strategy, aimed at making things better for people travelling in local neighbourhoods, towns, and cities. This includes looking to see if a Quality Bus Transit scheme along the full length of the A627/A671 Rochdale-Oldham-Ashton corridor would be beneficial. The scheme is only in the early stages of development.

The council is also working with residents in Chadderton North and Westwood to design Oldham’s first Active Neighbourhood scheme to make it easier for them to get around their local area on foot and by bike.

Cllr Arooj Shah, leader of Oldham Council and cabinet member for economic and social reform, said: “This strategy can have major benefits for our town and its residents. By improving our transport links and making it easier for people to get around this will improve their chances of accessing learning and career opportunities – helping to tackle inequalities that currently exist between the north and south of the city region and supporting Oldham’s growth by generating new homes, jobs and businesses. It also ties in with our plans to make Oldham the greenest borough in Greater Manchester.”


Train operator Merseyrail will be increasing the frequency of some of its services on Wirral lines from Sunday, September 26. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the rail operator over the past 18 months, but it is now able to begin reintroducing more services as less staff are required to self-isolate and more passengers begin to travel again.

This change means that Monday to Saturday services on the Chester line will increase to a 15-minute frequency until 19:00 then every 30 minutes until the end of service. The Ellesmere Port line will continue to operate a 30-minute service all day. On both lines, a 30-minute service will also remain in operation on Sundays and there will be changes to the departure and arrival times of trains.

Services on the West Kirby and New Brighton lines will remain at a 20-minute frequency, however, the arrival and departure times of trains will change. Passengers are advised to visit for full details.

There are no changes to services on the Northern lines, with Southport and Hunts Cross trains running every 20 minutes Monday-Saturday from the start to the end of service. A 30-minute service will continue to run on Sundays.

On the Ormskirk and Kirkby lines trains will continue to run every 20 minutes Monday to Saturday until 20:00 then every 30 minutes until the end of service. A 30-minute service will continue to run on Sundays. Passengers are reminded that, while face coverings are no longer mandatory on public transport, Merseyrail continue to ask that all passengers wear one in crowded areas out of respect for others, unless exempt.

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