Cotton Court Business Centre

Business

Cotton Court Features in Lancashire Business View

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If you haven’t already picked up a copy, check out the latest edition of Lancashire Business View . Robert takes centre stage, discussing all things entrepreneurship in The Big Interview.

Amy also talks about the importance of a good first impression for a start-up business, and how this has changed in the new ‘online world’.

Plus we spotted plenty of other familiar faces in the magazine, discussing everything from funding to the future of workplaces!

The magazine is available to read online
https://www.lancashirebusinessview.co.uk/read-lbv94-online

Cotton Court welcomes Create Theatre Academy!

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We are looking forward to hosting Create Theatre Academy as they welcome back their students!

Who are Create Theatre?

Create Theatre Academy offers a unique training experience of the highest quality taught by industry professionals. Their mission at Create Theatre is to nurture talent and enhance performance skills with innovation and imagination. 

Create aim to build a strong foundation for their students so that they can succeed in reaching their full potential. They take pride in building student confidence, encouraging growth and creating a safe space for students to develop their skills in Musical Theatre and Acting. Create Theatre Academy are a triple threat school focussing on allthree disciplines, Acting, Singing and Dance, ensuring they bring to their students a wide range of knowledge in all areas of the industry.

Founded by Rebecca Eastham, Wesley Bromley and Alex May Roberts, who as a team of all working actors and creatives in the industry can provide a fresh and contemporary approach to our training, They pride themselves on being an inclusive and engaging place for individuals to embrace their own unique talents and skills.

Email : createtheatreacademy@gmail.com

Meet the team :

Wesley Bromley –

Wesley graduated from The Urdang Academy London with a distinction in Professional Musical Theatre and Dance. Wesley is currently working as a senior rehearsal director/ choreographer for talent artistic group/ tui sensatori international. 

 

 

Rebecca Eastham- 

Rebecca trained at the prestigious Mountview Academy of Theatre London in Musical Theatre (BA Hons) as well as working as a professional actress. Rebecca has taught drama and musical theatre ( including lamda exams) in various schools across the North West.

 

 

Alex May Roberts –

Alex May Robertr trained at the University of Central Lancashire and graduated with a degree in Musical Theatre (BA Hons). She is currently working as a drama tutor and is a highly skilled vocal coach. Alex is a professional musical theatre performer and is represented by a top London agent. 

 

Small Business Tips for Surviving the Pandemic (by Laura Jeffers)

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We caught up with Start-Up Competition finalist and client, Laura Jeffers who shared some of her tips for small business survival during the pandemic.

It has been a crazy year to say the least! With well established businesses shutting down all around us it’s hard to stay hopeful. If you’ve made it this far, I guess you can say you’re one of the blessed ones! 

Honestly, there isn’t yet a fool proof guide to surviving a pandemic, but here are some tips that have helped me stay afloat in business during this crazy season. 

1. Adapt your services I’m a seamstress by trade, I make garments, it’s what I love to do. Although that’s the main focus of my business, I also sell smaller accessories, African print headwraps and Bow Ties that attract other customers. Someone proposed the idea of making Masks in African print fabrics. At the time I thought it was a bad idea, I wasn’t too crazy about it, but my options were limited so I gave it a try. Initially I created a DIY mask tutorial for my YouTube channel but to my surprise, instead of generating more video views, I had hundreds more sales. Now with masks being a compulsory item in the UK, it was one of the best decisions I made for my business.

2. Keep expenses to a minimum – Last year I actually launched a second clothing brand – Stay Lit Apparel. Initially I was printing the garments locally and shipping from my studio. Although it kept costs low, I found it took a while for the garments to reach the customers, especially when the printing service was delayed or unreliable. At this point I considered buying in bulk but as it wasn’t feasible for my business at the time I researched other methods of t-shirt printing. I came across a local drop shipping company. They print the garments according to my specifications and ship them directly to the customer which also means I don’t have to hold stock. During this pandemic that has been a blessing as I haven’t had major overheads or stacks of apparel stock to shift. This has been one of the ways I’ve been able to keep business costs low and keep my brand going.

3.Tap into support where possible – The government have been offering grants for eligible small businesses. I do realise however that not everyone qualifies for this support. On doing some research I have seen that there are other initiatives being put in place to help small businesses thrive and stay afloat during lock down. It’s wise to do your research, find out what is available to you and be willing and ready to accept the support if you need it. 

4.Utilise free advertising and social media networking groups – Don’t underestimate the power of social media. My masks wouldn’t have reached as many people as they did if those who initially purchased had not shared their masks with others. It’s free for your friends, family and existing customers to share something about your brand on social media. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews and feedback. In addition to this, there are also many groups on platforms like Facebook, that you can join, to network with other small businesses in a similar situation to you. These groups provide great support and that much needed community spirit.

5.Use your time wisely – They say time is money, so make sure you use yours wisely. Why not pick up a new skill, develop in an area that can either aid your business or even develop into another one. Invest in yourself! Do something you’ve never had the time to do, spend more time with your family, try to enjoy this season even though it’s hard. 

6.Create a new normal – Try not to dwell on the past and focus on what you have lost. Instead take time to plan the future, what that might look like and how you can move forward. 

7.Don’t give up, ask for help – Last but not least don’t give up! There is always support out there to help you create the future you dream of. Life is too short sit back and do nothing. If you need help and support, get in touch with business organisations that can offer that support to you. Cotton court are on hand to help small businesses like yours thrive and grow. Take advantage of their knowledge and services. You have come so far; you owe it to yourself to not give up! 

I hope these business tips have been helpful. What have been the pros and cons of this pandemic for your business? Let us know in the comments below.

This blog post was written by Laura Jeffers a fashion designer from Preston. She currently runs two businesses, Asikara (,a African clothing and accessories fashion label) and Stay Lit Apparel (,a Christian clothing brand). If you would like to find out more about her you can follow her via the links below.

Asikara by Laura Jane – African Fashion, Headwraps & Accessories  

Www.asikarabylaurajane.co.uk

Www.instagram.com/asikarabylaurajane

Www.facebook.com/asikarabylaurajane

Stay Lit Apparel – Christian Clothing Brand

Www.staylitapparel.co.uk

Www.instagram.com/staylitapprel.co

Www.facebook.com/Staylitapparel.co

 

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DON’T LET HOME WORKING BE A PAIN IN THE NECK!

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We caught up with Cheryle Britton, Founder of Yolo Wellbeing, who has recently launched the MSK Zoom Consultations to help employers support and manage the health of their home workers.  For as little as £5 per employee she will review their existing work arrangements and provide tips on how it can be adjusted to improve posture. She will also run through mobilisation and breathing exercises that will help ease tension in the joints and muscles.

If you are working from home you may have noticed more aches and pains than usual. Maybe your neck is stiff, or you’ve noticed your shoulders ache more; or possibly you’re experiencing pain in your lower back?

A new survey has found that a third of people working from home are experiencing musculoskeletal injuries as a result of poor posture from hunching over laptops and not having dedicated work stations set up at home.

Last year, the ONS Labour Force survey of 2018-19 found that over 6.9million working days were lost due to musculoskeletal disorders. Evidence gathered by the Labour Force Survey, over a ten year period, suggests that poor posture caused by makeshift work stations at home, will directly affect posture and the musculoskeletal health of home workers; which may result in long term absence.

What is Poor Posture, how do you avoid it?

Poor posture is caused by the joints, muscles and vertebrae being in stressful positions for prolonged periods; which results in a build up of pressure on tissues, causing tension, aches and pains.

The ideal posture is to be at right angles. Back straight, Thighs at a right angle to your body, knees at a right angle to your thighs. Wrists straight and forearms at a right angle to your biceps. Your monitor needs to be at a reasonable height so you don’t have to physically bend your neck to view your screen.

You can adjust your position using a combination of books and cushions to help raise your feet, seat or monitor, But if this doesn’t feel comfortable for you try a few of our top tips to prevent tension from creeping into your joints and muscles. 

TOP TIPS TO HELP PREVENT MUSCULOSKELETAL INJURIES

Wherever you are seated try and keep your back as straight as possible, and your monitor high enough so as you’re not bending your neck to view your screen,

Take regular breaks – getting up and changing your posture at regular intervals will alleviate the pressure on your joints, muscles and vertebrae. A 5min break after every 25mins of work is good for your health and your productivity,

Stretch. When your joints are immobile for prolonged periods of time you get a build up of Fascia, the connective tissue that wraps around your muscles; which causes tightness  and tension, and can lead to aches and pains. 

By mobilising and stretching your joints: wrists, elbows, shoulders, waist, back, knees and ankles you help to clear the excess fascia, to relieve tension and make the movement of your joints feel freer.

Poor posture can also affect your breathing, try this simple breathing exercise to help correct your posture, relax and energise you.

Sit up straight and take in a deep breath, in through your nose. As you’re breathing in imagine the air going to the very top of your head. This will lengthen your neck, and your shoulders will drop. When you can take in no more air, hold it for a second or two.

Then exhale slowly through the mouth. Let your shoulders relax, but keep sitting up straight. Keep blowing until all the air is expelled from your lungs. Normally we shallow breathe which means we hold a lot of stagnant air in the bottom of our lungs. This exercise helps to remove it,  

Take in another deep breath, in through your nose. This breathe should be deeper as you’ll be able to take in more, fresh air. Again imagine it filling up your body to the very top of your head. Hold, breathe it all out.

Do this 3-4 times. Then notice how much calmer and more relaxed you feel. The fresh air in your lungs will help you feel more energised and focused, ready to return to work.

Cheryle held a series of wellbeing days here at Cotton Court, where our clients enjoyed the a well deserved treatment and break from work, and we are looking forward to booking another day in soon when Covid restrictions are lifted.  Yolo Wellbeing use our business phone system, which has helped Cheryle whilst remote working and keeping in touch with her clients about new services.

ABOUT YOLO WELLBEING

YOLO Wellbeing helps employers improve the physical and mental wellness of their employees; through a combination of massage and meditation; delivered in a customised, mobile, environment that has been created to intensify the feelings of calm and relaxation.

The service has been designed to be easy to implement, requiring minimum resource and minimum disruption to your business. All appointments are pre-booked via a secure online site; the YOLO Wellbeing environment is brought to your business premises; and employees only require 20minutes away from their desk to receive the treatment.

Whilst social distancing is in place to restrict the spread of Coronavirus, the YOLO Wellbeing service is suspended. However, we’re here to help provide support, information and tools you need to help keep you and your staff healthy whilst furloughed or working from home.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you please contact us or follow us on social media on the details below:

Cheryle Britton: cbritton@yolowellbeing.co.uk

01772 283139

www.yolowellbeing.co.uk

@YOLOWellbeing (Linkedin/Facebook/Instagram/ YouTube)

Home……and Away

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Over the last few months the way everyone is working has changed. As people are starting to take steps back towards normality, we want to help people and businesses look at new ways in which they can keep both their team safe and productivity high.We’ve been looking into some of the challenges and also the benefits that the lockdown has presented to people in business, right across the spectrum from freelancers to large organisations of many descriptions.

People have gone from being in the office full time, or nearly full time, to spending an entire working week at home and have adapted quickly. However, for some people it isn’t without new struggles; whether it is a lack of focus at home due to other distractions, concerns about client confidentiality and privacy on phone calls, maintaining team cohesion and direction on collaborative projects, or simply just desperate for a change of scene and want to separate home and work life a bit more. Not to mention the aches and pains that come with sitting on a kitchen chair for 8 hours a day, hunched over a laptop.

Businesses day to day operations have had to shift, the plans for the future may look considerably different, and they are looking at new ways in which they can maintain collaboration, productivity and focus, whilst prioritising the health, safety and wellbeing of the employees and their families.

One of the priorities for businesses of all sizes now is increased flexibility, and we want to support customers and the business community to be able to work whichever way best suits their needs.

So maybe you’re an entrepreneur who only needs to use professional services such as meeting rooms, admin services or printing for a week at a time. Maybe you’re working for a large company and your office is operating at reduced capacity so you want somewhere else to work from. Or maybe you have a small team who are happy working from home but sometimes want a change of scene or need to work collaboratively. We have introduced some new service options to help customers take flexibility to the next level.

Our new services include
Remote Working Bespoke Package – We understand that every remote working team has different needs and challenges, so our new offering enables you to build a custom, remote working package for your business and your team. You can choose as few or as many of the services you need, whether its occasional office use, printing services or a business phone number.

Socially Distanced Workspace – We are also offering offices on flexible terms, even if you just need to work from somewhere for a day, maybe you have children at home and you could benefit from a few days of quiet focus each week in our new socially distanced workspaces. We have large offices set up too, so it’s ideal if you need to get your team together.

Pay As You Go Desk Space – On demand access to a professional working environment. No contracts, so it’s ideal if people want a change of scene now and again.

Digital Training Centre – Coming Soon! Training professionals and speakers that are switching to online or blended training can come into our new digital training space, fully equipped with filming equipment and access to video communications software to deliver their courses.

Quick Tips for your Small Business

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It’s fair to say that most people have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but we know that many small businesses are feeling particularly vulnerable right now. During these uncertain times, you may find you’ve got more time on your hands. Now is the perfect time to give your small business a quick health check. 

Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar small business that’s temporarily closed your doors or an online business, we’re here to help you identify some quick fixes to help improve your business presence.

Business Address

It doesn’t matter if you are an entrepreneur, small business, freelancer or a Startup, having a physical business address is something that can professionalise your image and give your customers confidence and trust in your business. Using a professional business address can work towards improving your SEO ranking, add credibility to your business and most importantly keep your home address private. 

There are three kinds of business addresses: 

  • The registered office address where mail is received
  • The director services address which appears on the public records
  • The virtual office address which appears to the outside world that your business operates from – all of which we can help you with. 

If you are considering looking into a business address but can’t afford premises we offer a Business Address service. With our professional business address, you can work from home, whilst all your correspondence and business cards have a prestigious city centre office address. If you’d like to read more take a look here

Phone Number

When building up your own business, a simple thing like telephone numbers can be overlooked. You might be using your personal mobile or a landline currently to take business calls due to convenience. But there are some benefits of having a professional phone number, your business can appear bigger, protects your private contact details and presents a professional image at all times.  

Our virtual office service can give your company the professional edge by providing you with a dedicated business telephone number and call answering service. If you’d like to read more take a look here

Email Address

You may currently be using a free email account provider for business correspondence. Is it a Gmail? Outlook? Or Hotmail? Email accounts on free email services like jane.business@gmail.com are not good for business because they do not look professional. Your customers and other businesses will find a professional email address more trustworthy and credible. Take a look at the steps below on how to create your own business email address. 

First things first you will need to have domain name and a website to create a free business email address. After you’ve sorted the above, you will need an email service provider to handle your business emails. Many hosting providers offer an email service as part of their package, please check when comparing providers. 

Give it a go, it’s worth it. 

Google My Business

Google My Business is a free listing service, which provides you with the ability to list your business location on Google Maps and local search results. If you haven’t got one set up, it’s incredibly easy to do so. Simply click the link here and go through the necessary steps. Setting up a Google My Business is one of the simplest and easiest ways you can be found online. As Google makes regular changes to its algorithms, if you want to get found in local search you need to have a Google My Business listing and optimising it on a regular basis is very important. Here are three ways to optimise your Google My Business:

  1. Get your description as accurate as possible, try and include relevant keywords
  2. Add posts to your profile
  3. Collect reviews

Take the time to optimise your profile and treat it as a virtual shop window for your customers, give them an insight into who you are and what you do best.  

If you’d like to know more about any of the above, please drop us an email on info@cottoncourt.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

CompTIA Opens free IT-Ready Boot Camp At Cotton Court

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We are looking forward to hosting CompTIA and it’s tech workforce charity, Creating IT Futures eight-week information technology (IT) boot camp which is the first of its kind in the UK.  Funded in partnership with the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership as part of the DCMS Digital Skills Innovation fund, IT-Ready will offer free technical support training to help adults launch their careers in IT.

“With more than 140,000 IT jobs open in the UK and the average IT salary being 56 percent higher than the national wage, employers need more tech workers and more workers need more opportunities,” said Charles Eaton, CEO, Creating IT Futures and vice president, social innovation, CompTIA. “With IT-Ready, we help more adults get the training they need to fill tech jobs, gain an upwardly mobile career, and earn family-sustaining wages.”

 “We are delighted to be working in partnership with DCMS to support the roll-out of the IT-Ready programme in Lancashire,” said Dr Michele Lawty-Jones, director of the Lancashire Skills Hub, Lancashire LEP.  

“The initiative, which is fully aligned with needs of local business, offers Lancashire residents a fantastic opportunity to develop their digital skills and improve their employment prospects,” Lawty-Jones added. “It’s also another great example of how the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership, which is part of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, is raising the skills of our digital workforce to boost productivity while also driving inclusive growth across the county.”

Interested adults can visit www.creatingitfutures.org/lancashire by 23rd January to enrol in the full-time, classroom-based IT-Ready boot camp classes that begin on 10th February 2020. IT – ready primarily serves:

  • Lower-income adults due to unemployment or underemployment
  • Displaced workers whose skill sets are no longer in high demand
  • Groups under-represented in the ranks of IT workers, such as women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.

 

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, a UK citizen or permanent resident and have 4 GCSEs (including Maths and English) or equivalent. No prior experience in tech is necessary, but a love of technology, a strong level of commitment and a drive to succeed are extremely important. 

IT-Ready students receive free tuition, learning materials, tech and soft skills training, and certification vouchers. They learn technical skills to help them successfully pass both parts of the CompTIA A+ certification exam. Plus, students receive professional development training to refine highly sought-after business skills including communication techniques, conflict management, teamworking, critical thinking and problem-solving. Graduates are prepared to apply both technical and professional skills starting day one of their first tech job. 

Creating IT Futures developed IT-Ready in 2012, and CompTIA UK Ltd staff will work with local employers to hire IT-Ready graduates in Lancashire. Within four months of graduating, 85 percent of IT-Ready students typically are working in a paid IT role with local area companies, earning £16,000 – £18,000 annually. Graduates move into help desk tech roles, building and maintaining a business’s IT environment and assisting its internal and external customers.  

Applicants should apply by 23rd January at www.creatingitfutures.org/lancashire

About Creating IT Futures
Creating IT Futures is a 501(c)(3) charity with the mission of helping populations under-represented in the information technology industry and individuals who are lacking in opportunity to prepare for, secure, and be successful in IT careers. Learn more at www.creatingITfutures.org.  

About CompTIA

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is a leading voice and advocate for the $5 trillion global information technology ecosystem; and the more than 50 million industry and tech professionals who design, implement, manage, and safeguard the technology that powers the world’s economy. Through education, training, certifications, advocacy, philanthropy, and market research, CompTIA is the hub for advancing the tech industry and its workforce. Visit www.comptia.org to learn more.

 

Barnardo’s Christmas Gift Appeal 2019

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Cotton Court Business Centre is once again inviting members of the local business community to come to the aid of disadvantaged young people in the county.

Each year the business hub launches its Christmas Gift Appeal in aid of Barnardo’s, and the 400+ disadvantaged young people it supports across Lancashire.

The appeal asks businesses and members of the public alike to spare a thought for disadvantaged young people in their area this Christmas, by donating a gift that can be opened on Christmas Day.

The appeal has gone from strength to strength and is now in its seventh year, but unfortunately, as momentum for the cause grows, so too has demand. Cotton Court is pushing the campaign especially hard this year, to make sure that no Barnardo’s supported young person is left without a present to open on Christmas Day.

Cotton Court Managing Director Robert Binns said:

“Every year we’re blown away by the support that members of the local community show the appeal. It’s a great way for everyone to come together at a special time of year and show the young people that Barnardo’s supports that we care.

When we started the appeal we set out to make sure that no young person that Barnardo’s supports be left without a gift on Christmas Day, and it was magical to achieve that for the last few years. However, the demand for Barnardo’s services increases each and every year, and we’re in danger of not meeting that target this Christmas unless the good people of Central Lancashire can come together and do something magical this festive season, and put a smile on a young persons face.”

The Barnardo’s appeal in 2018 was a great success,

Jenny Ashcroft, Children’s Services Manager at Barnardo’s Lancashire said:

“Once again we are extremely grateful for the support from Cotton Court to Barnardo’s services in Lancashire to enable the children and young people we work with to be gifted with a present this Christmas. 

As a charity we work with children and young people across Lancashire in a range of services, we would be very grateful for gifts for all age groups – particularly older children, teenagers and young adults.

The support from individuals and businesses to this appeal is amazing, we cannot thank you enough for the opportunity for our staff to pass on the Christmas gifts to those they work with and how excited and thankful our children and young people are to receive the thoughtful gifts bought for them.

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved with the Christmas Gift Appeal, no matter how big or small your donation it will go a long way to making a difference this Christmas to the child or young person that receives it.”

There is a particular focus on gifts for older children, teenagers and young adults. Many people think that Barnardo’s supports just very young children, but this isn’t the case. The service supports people into their teenage years and young adulthood, and it’s often the upper age category that struggles for gift donations. 

As it can be difficult to choose suitable gifts for the older age category, this year the business centre has compiled a list of recommended items to assist kind supporters of the appeal if they so wish. That can be viewed HERE.

You can help the appeal achieve its target by donating an unwrapped gift for a child, teenager or young adult, with donations being received at Cotton Court Business Centre reception between 08.00 and 17.00 Mon to Fri.

While the business centre would prefer donations to be dropped off in person, so that a personal thanks can be given, they understand the demands of business and personal life. Therefore, this year will be accepting gifts directly shipped from Amazon (details provided below), and donations via a JustGiving page which can be viewed HERE. The funds raised via this page will be used to buy gifts or gift vouchers for the appeal.

The appeal launches on Friday 15th November and closes on Monday 16th December. 

Drop Off (Preferred) 

Cotton Court Business Centre (08.00 – 17.00)

Cotton Court

Church Street

Preston

PR1 3BY

Amazon

Order your gifts on Amazon.co.uk and ship directly to the below address. Please include your full name and email address in the shipping notes or email us with the order number so we can confirm upon receipt.

Christmas Gift Appeal

Cotton Court Business Centre

Cotton Court

Church Street

Preston

PR1 3BY

Natwest Events 26th November 2019

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We are excited to be hosting the Back Her Business workshop on Tuesday 26th November in partnership with NatWest and Crowdfunder. The event will teach entrepreneurs all about how crowdfunding works, and how crowdfunding in general and Back Her Business, in particular, can be an effective way to get your new business up and running.

These events are a must-attend for an idea or early-stage businesses and entrepreneurs that are serious about growth!

By joining the session you’ll learn about:

  • The importance of female entrepreneurship to society
  • The Rose Review
  • Back Her Business: how people can access it and the Bank’s role
  • What crowdfunding is, and all about Crowdfunder
  • Benefits of crowdfunding, including Back Her Business match funding
  • How to crowdfund

The event is free to attend, but registration is essential:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/back-her-business-preston-turning-ideas-into-businesses-free-event-tickets-74804100077

Hope to see you there!

Cotton Court take part in the Big PNE Sleepout!

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 On Friday 15th November the Cotton Court team along with hundreds of people will be sleeping out at Preston Deepdale Stadium to raise funds for the Foxton Centre. The Foxton Centre is a Preston based charity who are committed to helping adults and young people within the local community

Helping the city’s homeless, the sleep out aims to raise £50,000 to buy a house for Preston’s rough sleepers under the charity’s Housing First initiative. You can donate to our page here 

 

Here at Cotton Court we are entering a team of around 15 people, made up of staff and customers, to sleep out and hope to raise more than £1,000 between us!

Rochelle, said: “We are very proud to be able to be a part of the Big PNE Sleepout. Homelessness is a major issue in Preston and if we can contribute to raising awareness and money to support this cause then why not be involved.”

To make a donation towards this fantastic cause please visit Cotton Court group’s fundraising page here