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Organisations and businesses in Lancashire are now being invited to apply to help deliver the Peer Networks support programme led in Lancashire by Boost; Lancashire’s Growth Hub.

Following the success of the Peer Networks pilot programme in 2020-21 which benefitted over 300 Lancashire businesses, Boost is running a further programme of Peer Networks which will run between July 2021 and March 2022.

Peer Networks is based on the principles of ‘action learning’ where small groups of businesses come together to discuss live issues and problems, and to share experiences and solutions. Individual one-to-one support is also provided to help to implement and manage change within each individual business.

The programme is funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Applications to facilitate the next round of Peer Networks groups are open to both private sector companies as well as trade associations and other public bodies.

Organisations seeking to bid to deliver the second Peer Networks programme should apply via the Lancashire County Council e-procurement site: www.lancashire.gov.uk/isupplier before 10am, June 25, 2021.

Michelle Mellor, CEO of Cummins Mellor Group, who facilitated a group in the first Peer Networks programme said: “It was a real privilege to facilitate the group session and coach each business owner. We have so many talented business owners in Lancashire. There is so much potential for future jobs, community support and the local economy.

“Running the Peer Network was instrumental for everyone taking part and our cohort has even continued to meet after the programme ended. As both friends and business contacts they are delighted to have got to know each other during a challenging and exciting period in their business journeys.”

Jane Binnion, managing director of The Growing Club CIC, also facilitated a pilot Peer Networks group specifically for women. She added: “Many of the women who joined our cohort did not know what to expect but knew they needed support. Despite coming from different professional backgrounds they quickly discovered they had many similar issues.

“I loved facilitating this programme. Despite being delivered online there was a genuine rapport between the women. It was really powerful to see them work together and support each other.”

Each Peer Network consists of between 8 and 11 owners or managers from the local SME business community. It is led by a facilitator and will typically meet fortnightly as a group to discuss a series of common business challenges.

Dan Hurtley is managing director of Dan Hurtley Ltd, a Lancashire-based handcrafted furniture manufacturer and installer. He was introduced to Peer Networks by Boost mentor Paul Aisthorpe, who facilitated Dan’s cohort.

Dan said: “Without Paul and the Peer Networks programme I would still be a one-man band. We have now got four members of staff. We’re looking for new premises and I want to grow the company to a team of 10.

“Joining Peer Networks gave me confidence, it’s good to bounce your ideas off other business owners and managers. I soon realised every business comes across similar obstacles.”

More information will be made available on the renewed programme over the coming weeks.

Business who wish to participate in the fully funded programme should register their interest by email to : info@boostbusinesslancashire.co.uk.

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