Cotton Court Business Centre

Author: Grace Bennett

Pitching secrets to be revealed at upcoming event

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Budding and established entrepreneurs from across Lancashire are invited to learn about creating the perfect pitch.

NatWest will be holding a pitching-based taster session for its Pre-Accelerator programme at Cotton Court Business Centre, Preston. The session will coincide with the Cotton Court Start-Up Competition which sees entrepreneurs from across the Red Rose County pitching for a chance to win everything they need to start, build and expand their business.

Heather Waters, Enterprise Manager at NatWest, said: “During our Pre-Accelerator taster session, we will teach participants our award-winning pitch structure which enables entrepreneurs to confidently and effectively present their business in any given situation. Pitching is absolutely vital for skill any new business and having the confidence to deliver a good pitch can make or break a business opportunity.”

Robert Binns, Director of Cotton Court Business Centre, said: “Being able to shout about your business and tell your story is invaluable to any business person and this course will give people the opportunity to learn first hand how to accomplish this.”

Later this summer NatWest will be bringing its full Pre-Accelerator workshop to Cotton Court. The session is designed for early-stage businesses looking at ways to grow and enhance their business ideas. The programme is part of NatWest’s three-stage business accelerator scheme which is delivered across the UK.

The pitching event is on Tuesday, May 6 at the Cotton Court Business Centre from 10am to 11.30am. To register visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pitching-masterclass-tickets-60302903608

How to Attract Large Customer Base for Your Small Business

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Attracting new customers is an essential part of your business growth. If you are running a small company as an entrepreneur then it becomes indispensable for small and medium enterprises to gain a considerable market share based on their target audience. As a small business, you won’t have unlimited access to financial resources to spend on an advertising campaign on multiple platforms.

 

In this post, we will share how to gain a larger customer base with your one-man band.

Have a Marketing Strategy with Day to Day Campaign Activity

Small business owners have a tough time managing their business support and their tactical day-to-day activities. During all these operations, it’s hard for businesses to focus on a lucrative and inexpensive marketing strategy. The only solution to the problem is to take some time out each month and plan your marketing strategy.

 

Start with online marketing, target special holidays like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Fathers, Day, Christmas, Easter and many other events. Target these family events to market your business on social media. Plan giveaways on weekdays and weekends. 

Tell a Story

One of the best marketing tactics that small business owners can employ to promote their company is to tell a story. In simple words, tell your target audience what your brand is all about, what were the reasons that made you think of starting this particular business. When you share your journey to success with your audience, it convinces them of your dedication to the new business.

Invest in a Mobile Friendly Website

The website is the most important aspect of your business; it’s the first thing that a customer witnesses about your company. But to truly be successful you will need to have a mobile-friendly website. Most of your clients are using their phones and other handheld electronic devices so it’s natural that they will scroll through your website on their mobile phones or tablets. Your website must be altered to work flawlessly on a smaller screen.

Registered Address of Your Business

When your small business has a registered commercial address located right in the city centre, it makes a big impact on your customer base. A registered business address makes it easier for your customers to get in touch with you. Moreover, it’s important to save up and invest in a professional business phone number with call handling and call forwarding services. You will need to invest in a dedicated telephone number and call/text handling services to cater to all your business communication needs. For any new business owner installing a powerful and efficient call answering system should be a priority.

There are several benefits of getting a registered company address at a central location such as:

  1. Giving the impression that you run a large business
  2. Improve your business networking circle
  3. Periodical business sustenance events
  4. A chance to keep your business and personal emails separate
  5. A dedicated telephone line

Benefits of Entering Start-up Competitions

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As an entrepreneur when you are in the process of developing your company, startup competitions encourage you to innovate and aim for the funding you might get if you win.

Many start-ups competitions are far beyond traditional techniques and methods. If you have a good idea, someone will want to listen to you. Consequently, many small business owners participate in these competitions to get funding and guidance from industry experts.

Start-up competitions come with great benefits in terms of providing access to business growth tactics and experts from different perspectives.

In addition, young companies gain the ability to create their own brands for their target audience. Here are some benefits of entering business Competitions.

Increase Your Brand Value

Small business competitions are usually leading companies in their respective fields. The brand values of these established companies have already been established in the eyes of target groups.

These well-known brands aim for the big price, the ultimate winning award will take your small company to new heights. One of the biggest benefits of participating in competitions is that you get a chance to create synergy with a major brand.

This allows your target audience and investors to better understand the purpose of your professional initiative. By strengthening your reputation, you become an attractive investment option.

 

Reaching Out To Marketing Experts

As an entrepreneur, you have many duties that you need to consider as the business owner. You have to determine the marketing strategy for your products or services. Being a part of business competition allows you to meet marketing experts in your relevant field.

Talk to them about your business and ask them for suggestions on how to improve your marketing strategies to attract a larger target market. 

Make sure that the business competitions keep you on the right track and not to miss the milestones that you have set for yourself and your business support. These competitions enable you to reach

 

Establish New Connections

Any entrepreneur you meet will tell you that the road to success is through coincidences and useful links at meetings.

In a startup contest, you can get in touch with a big company to collaborate not only in the near future but also in your entire business life.

Participating in competitions is a great way to meet senior leaders and opinion front-runners to help you expand your professional and personal network worldwide. Developing such relationships enables start-ups to increase the number of staff, improve your platform, and expand the marketing and sales channels.

 

Meet New Entrepreneurs with Challenges

In addition to enabling you to connect with international executives and business experts, professional competitions also give you the chance to meet new entrepreneurs who are struggling with many challenges.

The challenges they face in their business will help you broaden your horizon and learn about doing business in different countries and cultures. These competitions allow you to see the big picture and grow your new business with marketing, communications and mutual interaction.

How To Make Your Home Based Business Look Like a Major Corporation and Enjoy the National Bed Month

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Being an entrepreneur means, you have to start everything that a company needs from scratch. Many mothers find it easier to start a home-based business because it allows them to be flexible with their work and household duties. Opening a small home based startup was never this easy. You have plenty of options on your hands if you’re a budding business owner don’t wait to make a professional first impression on your clients. We’re sharing some simple ways that can make your small setup look professional.

Get a Professional Business Address

Trust and credibility are the main aspects of your small business growth. To get the credibility that your target market demands you need to invest in a professional business address. Getting a business address has several benefits, the first one is you can work from anywhere even your own bed! A professional business address will add another layer of privacy to your small home-based business. Use it until you can invest in an office building. Business address will make your business appear corporate with a physical mailing and communication address.

Get a Business Phone Number

A dedicated business phone number is what sets you apart from your rivals. If you’re a new business owner, it’s essential to invest in a professional phone number that’s dedicated to your business. Availing such services will allow your business to look professional and with years of experience in conducting business. Professional greetings, receiving and dialling calls, emails, texts everything is covered by a professional phone service provider. Gone are the days when you needed to hire people to call answering and call back, now the task is made easier by professional telephone services. Apart from handling calls, they can provide you with a text portal to interact with your clients and suppliers through your business phone number.

Choose a Perfect Domain Name and Website

As we are celebrating, the National Bed Month to commemorate working from home when you want it’s essential to talk about how to make your business look professional. Your small business should have the right domain name, some services offer you a free domain name but usually, that’s not something you should go for. A standard free URL is hard to remember and tedious to search over the internet. The best alternative is to get a premium domain name, it will cost you some money but you will have a professional website with a company name.

Hiring a professional web designer will help your official website stand out from the rest. Get a website with a corporate theme and keep the design subtle yet attractive. The website should be easy to navigate for every visitor, buy a premium domain and server since they load faster and offer server security. A business phone, registered address, and website will offer the much-needed business support that your home-based business needs. They will make it easier for you to work from anywhere in the world including your bed without worrying about missing meetings and deadlines.

Spotlight On Success: National Apprenticeship Week 2018

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We’re celebrating national apprenticeship week this week by getting to know what our apprentice enjoy most about working. Here is what they had to say

Name: Harry Stezaker Employer: Diecut Global
Job Title: Commercial Team
Apprenticeship Framework and Level: Business Admin level 2
Start Date: 5th June 2017

What is your job role?
I am a sales representative/prospector, this involves me being the first point of call for all
customers, therefore I deal with there enquiries and I generate business; this means that the
majority of my day is spent on the telephone.
What do you like most about doing an apprenticeship?
I prefer being in an apprenticeship more than full-time education as I both learn and earn
money whilst doing so.

What are your favourite things about your job?
My favourite things about my Job would be the colleagues I work with, they’re kind and
helpful whilst also being quite wise and instructive. As well as this I like my job role as a
salesman because there is no better feeling than making a sale.

Why would you recommend doing an apprenticeship?
I would recommend an apprenticeship for the following reasons:
Earning money whilst learning
Gain good life experiences due to being in the workplace
Gain a good head start in life economically
You mature a lot quicker.

What is your career goal?

My goal whilst working with Diecut Global is to become the leading salesman in my
company, this would give me both the experience and the correct thought process to get
further in life with my future aspirations.

 
Name Grace Bennett
Employer: Cotton Court Business Centre
Job Title: Business Administration Apprentice
Apprenticeship Framework and Level: Business Administration Level 2
Start Date: 4th September 2017

What is my job role?
My role is varied and a typical workday involves me answering calls for either
customers within the building when they’re otherwise engaged; answering calls for
virtual offices which I then email to inform them so they can get back in touch. It also
involves setting up and organizing conferences which are held within the building on
a daily basis; whether that be groups of 4 or 104. On a daily basis I also handle all
the mail for our virtual office customers, office and desk clients. As well as, making
sure all conference are presentable and clean throughout the day.

What do you like most about doing an apprenticeship?
I like the fact that my NVQ work ties in with my day to day on the job work make it easy to
complete both whilst learning new things on the job

What are your favourite things about your job?
There are many favourite areas in my job role but one that sticks out the most is the
ongoing day to day interaction I have with other clients and visitors. Also, I like the
variety I get with my job and that I’m always learning new things.

Why would you recommend doing an apprenticeship?
I have chosen to become an apprentice because then I can advise young people to
consider an apprenticeship after school instead of college. Also, that apprenticeships
are for anyone no matter what your starting point is. I also choose to become an
apprentice to expand my skills in the workplace whilst still learning and staying in
education. I believe this network will allow me to meet a wide range of people,
whether that be fellow ambassadors or people when out and about visiting schools
and career fairs. Also, benefit me on how other businesses work and what each
individual business entails.

What is your career goal?
In the future I would like to be in a job which i enjoy also one which will broaden my
horizon for the forthcoming years. I would also like to say that I now manage all
virtual office customers and enquiries and that I would like to build my way up to a
managerial role.

 

Name: John Alty
Employer: Compeller Ltd
Job Title: Digital Marketing Assistant
Apprenticeship Framework and Level: Level 2 IT.
Start Date: 23rd July 2016

What is your job role?
My Job Role at Compeller is ever changing as my skill sets improve and I get a wider
understanding of the industry. But primarily my Job is based on building and managing PPC
campaigns on Adwords for our clients. My time is also spent creating various reports and
website audits every month.

What do you like most about doing an apprenticeship?
It was a good option after college to start an apprenticeship and get into the working world
early, instead of committing to 3 years of university. I’ve always worked so I thought why not
carry on.

What are your favourite things about your job?
Learning new things and gaining experience in the industry is a very rewarding experience
and I couldn’t have found a better place to do so. Working office hours is enjoyable and fits
in well with day to day life. Being able to have weekends and evenings free is something that
you can’t get with a lot of jobs.

Why would you recommend doing an apprenticeship?
It’s a great way to get into the world of work and learn new things while being paid to do so.
What is your career goal?
Improve my knowledge and confidence to the point where I can independently make
decisions within the company.

 

Name: Lydia Bury
Employer: Compeller
Job Title: Digital Marketing Apprentice
Apprenticeship Framework and Level: IT user skills level 2
Start Date: 3rd January 2018

What is your job role?
Managing and building PPC accounts and various SEO techniques, writing google ads,
copywriting and putting together content for websites.

What do you like most about doing an apprenticeship?
I like the fact that the coursework links in with the work I’m doing with Compeller and that it
is relevant to my job role. It’s also great to be learning and gaining experience as well as
being paid.

What are your favourite things about your job?
I like the variety I get with my job and that I’m always learning new things. I’ve also been
really lucky to find a fantastic company to work for.

Why would you recommend doing an apprenticeship?
I would recommend an apprenticeship as you are getting experience on the job, gaining a
qualification as well as getting paid. I would recommend an apprenticeship over going to
university as you’re gaining insight into how the industry works, getting paid as well as
coming out with a qualification.

What is your career goal?
Gaining experience and knowledge to work my way up to a managerial role within the
marketing industry.

Strategic Transport Plan Consultation Event

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On Wednesday 24th January we’re looking forward to hosting Transport for the North as they start the public consultation on the Strategic Transport Plan.

This is your chance to find out more about the recommendations and what it means for you and your area and give your feedback which will help shape the Plan in its development.

These consultation events are open to everyone and are your chance to hear from Transport for the North representatives and ask any questions you might have.

First stop is in Preston, at Cotton Court!

They’d like to invite you to a special pre-briefing at 3pm, where you can hear from their Strategy Director and discuss their proposals.

 

The outline for the session is as follows:

4pm – 5pm: Presentation from Transport for the North representative and Q+A

5pm – 6pm: Drop-in Q+A

6pm – 7pm: Presentation from Transport for the North representative and Q+A

7pm: Event close

If you are able to attend, please register your interest here

 

 

2017 Our Year in Review

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As 2017 has to come to an end we look back on all the amazing things our clients have done. Some of the memories and achievements have been so amazing we had to share with you what they have been up to…

Alys Stuart – Together we balance ~~ “The best part of my 2017 was in making the decision to take on staff. Having Tracy an then Bea join me in Together We Balance was the beginning of a major stage of growth for the company. Made easier by working at Cotton Court as all the facilities are in place and renting an extra desk was very simple to do.”

Daniel Fisher – Tienda Digital ~~ “Another Christmas comes, another Christmas party, another secret Santa and another year of delivery amazing projects for clients. When we look back and reflect on this year, a few things do stand out.

Relocation
This year we relocated back into the heart (city centre) of Preston to where it all began. Tienda Digital is proud to be in the heat of Lancashire and will continue to grow the digital sector here for years to come.

Awards
This year we came close to winning ‘Small Business of the Year’ (twice) but missed out to ome amazing winners. We are proud to be finalists in any award as it shows what we do is not only recognised but appreciated. Our very talented Eleisha Cartlidge only went and won ‘Employee of the Year’ at the Women In Business Awards. This is testimony to her hard work and dedication over the last few years.

TOOLi App
Our client TOOLi was voted the number 1 in the “Top 6 Apps For Tradesmen That Are Revolutionising The Industry” during 2017 which again is great news for not only ourselves for developing the app but for the guys at TOOLi.

Drop App
Tienda Digital worked with our client Drop to develop a new social connect app which has now launched and will be promoted to universities throughout the UK in 2018. The app has the potential to be huge and we will be supporting the guys at Drop to make sure this happens.

retailTRUST
It’s always nice to end the year on a high and this one is no different, Tienda Digital has been appointed to develop a mobile app for retailTRUST, a national trade charity that supports everyone involved in retail and the related service industries.

We would like to thank our clients, friends, family, business associates and even everyone who has liked tweeted or shared our social profiles this year. We wish you all the luck for 2018 and beyond.”

Roger Singleton – Riscon Solutions ~~ “My yearly highlight was the training of 10 staff at CARE International, an NGO based on the remote island of Tanna in the country of Vanuatu in March 2017. The training content was in Drinking Water and Sanitation system assessment in rural communities. Since that date, the team has undertaken over 50 system assessments and upgrades on the island.”

Danny Bee – UK Media And Events ~~ “We have delivered some fantastic events across the country for some of our clients, and being asked to produce Grace Davis’s performance in Cathedral Square, Blackburn for the x-factor semi-finals week (in less then 48 hours) was an amazing experience, achievement and honour. To top the event of the outcome and support shown towards Grace was phenomenal!”

Mark Drage – Ambledene ~~ “Ambledene was all about change this year whether that be the new logo or the fact we have added a new gin related monthly newsletter which allows people to see the best tried and tested gins of each month. Our new logo consists of two A’s combined to subtly create an ‘M’ this allowing us to showcase the Ambledene Accountancy Director Mark at the forefront of the business. To top the year off Ambledene Accountancy has helped their clients Vibe Tickets secure immense investments. Vibe tickets allows fans to exchange and negotiate on the price of tickets for live events. It has built a following of more than 70,000 users across eight countries since 2013. The investment will help them potentially become the number one destination for live events for fans across the globe.”

Craig Davis – Wise ability ~~ “My personal highlight was earlier in the year 3 of my candidates began work on the same day. This was particularly pleasing as the candidates had worked very hard to develop their skills and overcome their disabilities in order to find full-time employment. All 3 remain in work and have moved to unsupported employment, highlighting their individual capabilities and motivation to succeed.”

Jilly Jackson – Digital Touch ~~ “The highlights of the year for Digital Touch have been plentiful, including offering Photoshop training alongside our main Retouching work. This seemed to happen overnight and by chance and though it is not a lucrative part of the business, time is made, because a huge amount of pleasure is gained when sharing knowledge with people who are equally as enthusiastic when exploring the amazing world of Digital Art.
This year we have also taken on another retoucher Luke, who specialises in complex fantasy style artwork. He is incredibly patient with an exceptional eye for detail when taking on any task, making him a huge asset to Digital Touch.
The driving Force for what we do is the positive feedback we receive every single day from our many clients. However, due to the privacy required it is difficult to translate these to valuable online reviews, but nevertheless we still sit proudly in the top 5 of our all-important TrustPilot.
Towards the end of the year, we joined up with the guys at Manchester’s Digital Garage, who are assisting with improving our Adwords account and Analytics. Blogging on Social Media and Networking on Business groups have been incredibly beneficial and again Digital Garage will be working with us to maximise the use of LinkedIn as we look forward to generating additional B2B work in the New Year.
This year has been wonderfully empowering and 2018 has been tasked with the challenge of surpassing expectations.”

Andy Neale – Global Amigos ~~ “2017 was an amazing year for Global Amigos we: offered work experience, helped with CV’s and gave a reference which

allowed one of our first supporters to achieve employment after just one month of full-time volunteering!; our Podio magazine was shortlisted for the ‘Start-Up Social Enterprise Of The Year Award’ – for the annual SELNet Awards (Social Enterprise Lancashire Network) The ceremony alone was a highlight itself; Our founder Andy volunteered in India during the summer, supporting international communities. When he returned to England he had a clearer long-term vision for Global Amigos as a result; later on in the year, we won the project management contract for Preston At Night, enabling us to further share our passion for all things Preston. To top the year off it was an honour to have Podio PR1’s name and Christmas message shining brightly on the big screen at Preston’s Christmas Light Switch on, for the second year running.”

How can you ensure customers pay on time? And what to do when they don’t!

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When you go above and beyond for clients, you expect to get paid just as fast. The biggest disappointment for a small business owner is when those expectations are not shared by the client when the invoice is due for payment.

Staying silent and hoping they will pay on time out of courtesy is not the way forward. You need to find a better way and fast, so here are our top tips on how to get your clients to pay on time…

  • Make it Convenient:

Arrange a set date each financial period when it is convenient for your client to pay, ensuring they are expecting and prepared for the invoice can also ensure they pay it on time! This tip also shows your clients that you are flexible with when they pay and that you want to make the transaction as easy and stress-free as possible for both of you.

  • Using technology:

Stop using paper to send your invoices as it is a prone way for your clients to make excuses as to why they haven’t paid I.E It got lost in the post. Instead, offer them an online invoicing process with the ability to pay there and then. There are plenty of online cloud-based accountancy and invoice websites. Some of these include Xero; The Sage Group; Go Daddy also Chaser a credit control software. Chaser and Xero are seamlessly integrated meaning that you won’t have to input and data as it uploads automatically from Xero.

Go Cardless is also a renowned website which chases your payments for you o ensuring you spend no more time following up late payments.; late payments or bad debt. Like chaser, you can also import all of your information from other websites, whether that be Xero or Sage 50.

We have many clients within our business centre that are always willing to help small business. If you would like any information then just email us on info@cottoncourt.co.uk and we will pass on your information.

  • Switch to a recurring billing:

If you’re the type of entrepreneur who has different billing dates each month, then you may need to rethink your strategy. However, if you choose to partner with a recurring invoicing system, you may find that your client remembers to pay on time EVERY time.

  • Nurture your client’s relationship:

If you have a good relationship with your clients then you should have respect when it comes to getting paid on time. If you both get to know how each other work then it will make it easier if you need to pick up the phone and ask about your payment.

  • Speed up your invoicing delivery:

If you improve your payment delivering terms to every two weeks rather than monthly or even weekly. Then this may help the client by training them to become timely with payments. Meanwhile, you get paid more often so timing becomes less of an issue because your cash flow will also improve.

  • Reward early payers:

Instead of an “overdue fee” implement a system that takes a set percentage of your client’s bill if they pay within three days or less of receiving the invoice. This may seem like your losing money but will strengthen yours and your client’s relationship as then will pay early because who doesn’t like a cheaper bill!

  • Get expert advice:

Every small business owner has the same approach when running their business “Hands-On”. But if the cash flow is a growing concern, then take a cue from bigger Companies and contact a financial advisor. They can provide the skills, information and discipline you need to get your finances back on track.

  • Collecting overdue accounts:

Despite your best efforts, there will likely come a time when a client will miss a payment deadline. How you react and respond to the situation can make a big difference.

The number one step is to get in touch immediately! You may feel like you should wait and hope they pay. However, with each passing week, you’re less likely to get paid.

After 30 days, start charging interest. You should have a payment policy which will specify your terms of overdue payments. Be sure to include your late payment fee on any subsequent invoices you send.

Continue getting in touch with your clients as they will need significant “nagging” to make their payment. Every time you get in touch with your client make sure to indicate your payment terms and the amount of interest that has occurred…

UK Media and Events have got the X-Factor!!

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UK Media & Events produced Grace Davies (X Factor finalist) homecoming show at Cathedral Square, Blackburn last Wednesday (29th November). This is what they had to say about the event:

“We were contacted by ITV 48 hours prior to the event happening and in that time organised every production element, arranged all infrastructure and delivered a seamless and successful event.

In the 48 hours, we coordinated and implemented all arrangements for the staging, sound, lighting, LED screen, full crew, live cameras and operators, security barriers and fencing, medical and full ground

protection (covering all grassed areas).

Thousands of people attended (4-5k) and the support for Grace was outstanding.

We pride ourselves on our adaptability and flexibility, and this successful event is the proof in the pudding!”

Great achievement by our clients…..keep up the good work!

Barnardo’s Christmas Toy Appeal

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We are calling all Lancashire businesses to join us in supporting children’s charity Barnardo’s by donating a gift that we can give to a young person.

We have organised a Toy Appeal for local children and young people since 2013 and with the support from local businesses we have helped hundreds of children.

We’d love it if your business or networking group would join us and collect donations on behalf of your staff or networking group.

Barnardo’s support over 400 vulnerable young people from 0-25 years old, throughout the year across the Lancashire area. Presents for teenagers are particularly valuable as young carers and homeless units are most in need of presents.

Barnardo’s have also advised that the gifts are best not wrapped, and we can also accept gift vouchers.

Donated toys can be dropped off at Cotton Court Business Centre during the hours of 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday to Friday.

Over the years, millions of children and young people have benefited from gifts donated to Barnardo’s. By giving a gift to our Christmas Present Appeal you can make a real difference in someone’s life at Christmas.

Barnardo’s is a British charity founded by Thomas John Barnardo in 1866, to care for vulnerable children and young people. As of 2013, it spends over £191 million each year on more than 800 local services, aimed at helping these same groups. It is the UK’s largest children’s charity, in terms of charitable expenditure. Today, Barnardo’s provides a comprehensive range of local support, counselling, fostering, adoption, education, residential and training services for more than 100,000 children, young people and their families. The charity works to transform the lives of vulnerable children and young people, and aims to enable them to fulfil their potential.

If you would like any further information on how to help a child in need this Christmas please contact us on 01772 507767 or email info@cottoncourt.co.uk