North West business briefs: Port Sunlight Village Trust; LSH Auto; AO; HOST; Bolton at Home

Port Sunlight
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Port Sunlight Village Trust (PSVT) has appointed urban designers and landscape architects Planit-IE to develop a new public realm strategy for Port Sunlight. The brief was developed in partnership with Wirral Council which has a shared responsibility for the village’s public realm.

The public realm plays a fundamental role in how well places function and our perception and understanding of them. For PSVT, the commissioning of a public realm strategy represents a very significant step in the organisation’s journey towards realising its vision for Port Sunlight, to create ‘an inspiring place to live, work and visit’.

Since the launch of PSVT’s new five-year strategic plan in 2019, a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to support the development of a new masterplan for the village. The staff and board say they have worked with some brilliant organisations to develop their thinking, including Chris Blandford Associates, Creative Heritage Consultants, L&R Consulting, Outside Studios, Donald Insall Associates, the University of Manchester, EMBED and the Disability Collaborative Network, and The Environment Partnership.

Over the past two years, and in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, PSVT has identified new uses for its public buildings and spaces, improved its understanding of the significance and meaning of the site, begun to adopt a fresh approach to interpreting the village’s heritage, increased its knowledge of the condition and needs of Port Sunlight’s heritage assets, and taken time to reflect on its role in combatting climate change and social injustice.

Paul Harris, PSVT chief executive, said: “This public realm strategy represents the final piece of our masterplan, bringing all of these elements together to form an exciting new vision for the village, one that protects the heritage character and value of the site whilst also ensuring that the village is relevant and an inclusive and welcoming place for all. We are very excited about Port Sunlight’s future and delighted to be working with Planit-IE, a company that share our values, on this critical piece of work for the village.”

Anna Couch, studio director of Planit-IE, said: “We are excited to be working with PSVT and wider stakeholders to bring forward a public realm strategy for the village. When it was first conceived and developed, Port Sunlight was an exemplar model village which raised expectations for the quality of workers’ housing, with values centred on health and wellbeing at the heart of its vision. We are keen to explore how this original vision still resonates and translates in the 21st century.”


Bianca Walkden with Macclesfield LSH Auto staff

LSH Auto colleagues and customers received a surprise visit from Liverpool-born Olympic medal winner Bianca Walkden. The Olympic medalist and Taekwondo triple World Champion has been an ambassador for LSH Auto since March 2021 and recently took time out from her busy training schedule to visit its Mercedes-Benz dealerships across the North West.

Having recently represented Great Britain in Taekwondo at the Tokyo Olympics, Bianca secured a podium place, winning a Bronze Medal. The win complemented an impressive collection of medals and titles including a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics, three European Championship titles and three times World Grand Prix Final champion in her division.

Martyn Webb, managing director LSH Auto, said: “Bianca is a truly inspirational individual and the best in her field – an ideal motivator for our colleagues. She’s also a lovely person, so it was an absolute pleasure to introduce her to both our colleagues and customers. Her tour created a real buzz and put a spring in everybody’s step.”

The tour included dealerships at Mercedes-Benz of Whitefield, Mercedes-Benz of Macclesfield and Mercedes-Benz of Stockport. Customer, Saeeda Hussain, met Bianca when she was collecting her new Mercedes-Benz, and said: “I was lucky enough to meet Bianca at Mercedes-Benz of Whitefield. Inspirational, wonderful person. Thank you, Tom, general manager, and Mo, you guys made my new car collection a day I will always remember.”

Martyn Webb added: “We would like to thank Bianca for taking the time to meet our colleagues and customers and for making the whole experience so enjoyable for everybody. We look forward to continuing to support her as she trains for the next Olympic Games in Paris.”


Jason Robinson with pupils

A life-changing mental health programme has been introduced at St Matthew’s Little Lever Primary School in Bolton. The ‘Are you AO-K’ initiative has been launched by Bolton-based online electricals retailer and Sale Sharks’ new headline sponsor, AO, alongside the charitable partner of Sale Sharks – Sharks Community Trust.

After recognising how difficult the past 18 months have been for young people because of the pandemic, Sale Sharks and AO teamed up to create the ‘Are you AO-K?’ curriculum. The curriculum has been created by the Sharks Community Trust team, which uses rugby and the values of the sport to change lives across the region.

‘Are you AO-K’ is designed to raise awareness amongst children about positive mental health and wellbeing. The lessons are being taught in schools across the North West and courses will last for six weeks at a time. The programme will run in 125 schools throughout the region over the next five years which means that hundreds of children will benefit from this ground breaking scheme.

Lessons will be delivered by Sharks Community Trust coaches, who have England Rugby level 2 and Level 3 awards in education and training, with the support of the club’s players and staff, including Sharks legend and club non-exec director, Jason Robinson, who said: “When I was making my way in rugby as a young player, we didn’t have this sort of education and support. It would have made a huge difference to me because I struggled at times. These young people have so many new challenges with social media so I jumped at the chance to speak to them, to encourage them, and to remind them that they can be anything they want to be.”

Vicky Monk, director of customer and brand at AO, said: “Supporting mental health and wellbeing is a really important and exciting part of our partnership with Sale Sharks. The last 18 months have been incredibly challenging for everyone, especially children, having faced huge disruption to their daily lives. So, it’s vital that we come together to make sure young people know they can speak up about their mental health.”


Promote Your Tech

A free to access marketing masterclass has been developed for digital technology entrepreneurs from Greater Manchester to upskill in the use of digital marketing and brand promotion. Developed by innovation hub HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology at MediaCity, Promote Your Tech, is a 12-hour masterclass spread over three days to support businesses with their specific marketing needs.

The masterclass will offer a deep dive into digital marketing with a focus on how to attract new customers and create a growth action plan, as well as one-to-one business support, networking and peer group mentoring.

Promote Your Tech is part of HOST’s Your Tech series and follows the success of Fund Your Tech, which helped 25 businesses access funding support and advice on grants and alternative finance options. Through its programmes, HOST has identified that a lack of understanding of digital marketing is an ongoing issue for entrepreneurs and has developed the masterclass in response to this need.

Promote Your Tech is open to Greater Manchester-based digital technology businesses with less than 250 full time employees, a turnover of less than £43m or a balance sheet of less than £37m, with the ambition to grow, innovate and scale up.

Bella Copland, director of programmes at HOST, said: “We have seen an emerging trend with entrepreneurs and start-ups wanting to learn more about how they can maximise the impact of their digital marketing efforts and bring greater returns for their business. We hope to meet this demand with a flexible, fully-funded hybrid masterclass that has been developed specifically for entrepreneurs in mind, so they can access the marketing support they need to help them accelerate their journey to success.”


From left: Hayley Hulme, Claire Calman, John Hastings

A Bolton-based social enterprise has partnered with a local organisation to recycle its old IT equipment and help local people get online. Starts with you, a social enterprise wholly owned by social housing provider Bolton at Home, works to create skills and opportunities in Bolton to help local people access quality jobs.

The organisation has supplied its used electrical equipment to Recycle-IT, so it can receive a new lease of life helping local people access internet services and computer-based learning. The first contribution to Recycle IT will involve six computer processors, 22 smartphones and a TFT monitor. The equipment, which has been replaced by new technology at Starts with you, will be sanitised and digitally wiped before being repurposed to support the local community. They will be distributed to local people so they can access the internet to use key services such as banking, job applications and managing finances, as well as online services to reduce loneliness and isolation.

The ongoing partnership between Starts with you and Recycle-IT aims to continue contributions of old equipment which can help ensure members of the community aren’t left behind and have regular access to the internet and the opportunities it brings.

Hayley Hulme, managing director of Starts with you, said: “Working with businesses from and for the community in Bolton and who are committed to making a positive change is really important to us. We are delighted to have found Recycle-IT, to make sure our old equipment can be responsibly recycled in the communities that need it. We know our data is safely and professionally removed before it is reused in the community.”

Recycle-IT was founded by former Big Issue vendor, John Hastings, who understands barriers to progression for people, with the social enterprise planning to scale up to a training and refurbishing warehouse within the next two years. Mr Hastings said: “We thank Starts with you for a contribution which can make a big difference locally. It was our pleasure to have collected the unloved, but still very useful, equipment and begin to process it through our workshop alongside trained staff and local volunteers.”