Businesses across the West of England have come together to support the West of England Combined Authority’s recovery plans. Ahead of International Women’s Day on 8th March, four women supporting the West of England recovery plans have talked about the importance of the work underway to ensure the region recovers, cleaner, greener and more resilient.
The West of England Recovery Taskforce was set up in 2020 by the West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, to drive the region’s economic recovery following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The taskforce has put together a Regional Recovery Plan to create 1,800+ new jobs and provide 22,000+ training and skills placements each year.
£9.4m has been committed by the West of England Combined Authority to support the Recovery Plan, taking WECA’s total investment in businesses and skills to over £100m over the next four years.
Heather Cooper, a Director at Hargreaves Lansdown where she is responsible for leading the people, culture and Corporate Social Responsibility strategies, is a board member of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership. Together with several staff members from Hargreaves Lansdown she is supporting the work of the West of England Recovery Taskforce.
Heather said: “In my work I see the benefits of working together in partnership with other organisations to bring wider social benefits. My involvement in the Local Enterprise Partnership and the recovery plan for the region has given me the opportunity to work alongside people in business, education and the public and third sector to make sure that the recovery plan is inclusive and will benefit people across the region.
“I’ve been delighted that Hargreaves Lansdown has been able to second some of our staff to help support this work over the past few months to be able to drive forward this really important work that will help our region recover more quickly.”
Margot Day is the Global Director for Risk and Commercial & Legal for Buro Happold, an international multi-disciplinary engineering and consulting practice based in Bath, and is a recovery taskforce member. Margot said: “I’m passionate about driving equality, diversity and inclusion agendas both inside and outside of work. Having the opportunity to work on the West of England recovery plan has been really important to me to make sure that building back better means that everyone has access to training and job opportunities.
“Using changes in behaviour brought about by the pandemic we also need to seize the opportunity to build back cleaner and greener creating greener, healthier, more vibrant places to live and work.”
Sammy Payne is the co-founder of Open Bionics, an award-winning Bristol based robotics company that exports medical devices internationally. Sammy is also the chair of the Creative Scale Up board and a recovery taskforce member. She said: “Innovation is key to our recovery as a region. Organisations of all sizes are being helped to innovate, giving them access to expertise, funding and partnerships to bring new products and services to market. We’re already seeing creative and innovative businesses adapting, improving their resilience and making their ideas reality.”
The West of England Recovery Regional Recovery Plan outlines how to harness the region’s creativity and diversity to protect and secure jobs, while building back greener and creating opportunities for all residents to share in the recovery.
Chief Executive of the West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership, Patricia Greer, said: “The Recovery Taskforce is made up of leaders from some key businesses from across the West of England, alongside universities and the public sector – working together on the recovery of our region. I am immensely grateful for the time and insight they have given to support our work as we have faced the impact of Covid-19.
“The additional support from members of the Hargreaves Lansdown team has made a difference to the speed at which we have been able to carry out our urgent and important recovery work.”
Central to the Recovery Plan is the West of England Combined Authority’s dedicated business support service, the West of England Growth Hub, which provides SMEs with tailored one-to-one advice and access to finance, support programmes and expert guidance. To help navigate the wide range of support on offer through the West of England Growth Hub, the Combined Authority has released a new Business Support Guide. Residents can access mentoring and training via the Future Bright scheme.