Cotton Court Business Centre

Lancashire

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 Leyland Centre Visit

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Since 1870, Barnardo’s have been helping disadvantaged children and young people. Today they support hundreds of thousands of individuals across the UK and beyond, and approximately 520 children and young people in Lancashire. Last year, Cotton Court’s Christmas toy appeal was able to benefit over 400 of these people. 

In the lead up to this year’s appeal, I (Rochelle) was keen to meet with Jenny, manager at the Barnardo’s centre in Leyland, to find out even more about the charity. The centre is home to young people aged 16 to 21, and after hearing about the organisation and the individuals that Jenny and her team support, I was eager to see it for myself.

You may have some preconceived ideas of what a centre for 16 to 21 year olds from troubled backgrounds will be like. But even on first impressions, these unfounded assumptions will vanish. Despite the start to life that these young people have had, the emotional struggles and trust issues that they have faced and the unconventional living situations that they have endured, they are given the opportunity to feel safe at Barnardo’s – and this is an opportunity they grasp with both hands. The centre has a homey feel with a comfortable front room and a lovely garden decorated with quotes from past and present residents about their time at the centre and how it has impacted their lives. 

The residents have rules that they must abide by and are responsible for paying their own rent and food shopping etc. Barnardo’s gives them the structure that they desperately want and need. Some of the young people come from care homes that they have lived in since the age of ten, some have come from families where both parents have struggled with addiction, and others have come from families where they have witnessed severe domestic violence. Many arrive at the centre with only a carrier bag of belongings. Regardless of their situation, each and every new resident is welcomed with open arms, and the team source items they are in need of, from clothes to materials and supplies for college.

Amy and Rochelle visiting Barnardo's centre in Leyland

The centre not only offers them a safe and secure living environment, it also offers them the emotional and educational support that they need to be able to live independently as an adult. Jenny described what she and her team do as nurturing their residents until their wings are strong enough for them to fly on their own, and that is exactly what they do. For example, three people from this centre started university this year despite initially believing that it was an achievement that someone like them wouldn’t be able to reach.

Due to certain circumstances, a lot of these young people have no one at Christmas – no family to open presents or enjoy Christmas Dinner with. Thankfully, the centre is staffed 24/7, and this includes the whole Christmas period. The team at the home make Christmas Dinner and spend the day playing games and watching films with the residents. However, the one thing that they aren’t able to do is buy presents for them (as much as they would love to be able to). This is why this appeal means so much.

The donations raised truly make a difference to these people, some of whom haven’t had a Christmas present for years. To be able to wake up on Christmas Day and receive an unexpected and heartfelt gift is a small gesture that means a great deal. No child or young person should feel alone, unloved, uncared for or underprivileged at any time, but especially at Christmas. One gift or a small donation goes a long way, and hopefully we can make this the biggest and best toy appeal to date. 

As well as benefiting residents at the Leyland centre, the appeal also benefits families across Lancashire that Barnardo’s work closely with. Whether it’s a young carer aged from just five years old whose family struggles every year to afford presents, or a parent who is battling addiction, the appeal will make a positive difference to their Christmas. Here are some comments we received about last year’s appeal:

Thank you so much for all the presents for Ad and his siblings, they really are amazing – I can’t believe they are from such nice people who don’t know my family. It proves there really are caring people out there, the kids have never had Christmas crackers before!”

“I really wasn’t expecting any presents, Christmas is really hard but you have made it that bit better, thank you so much!”

I cannot stress enough how much the appeal means – not only to the families, young people and children it benefits, but also to the staff who genuinely care for them. Giving is not just about making a donation, it’s about making a difference. The appeal is a simple concept that makes a huge difference to so many children and young people across Lancashire. If there is any way – big or small – that you are able to get involved, we would greatly appreciate it. Find out how to get involved HERE

The Big PNE Sleepout

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Friday 15th November saw a team of us from Cotton Court take part in the Big PNE Sleepout. The event was organised by Preston North End in the Community, Blog Preston and BIFFA who have joined with The Foxton Centre – a Preston based charity celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019.

Whilst we had time to prepare for this challenge, it wasn’t what we had expected and was much tougher than we initially thought.

We joined around 300 others who were also taking part, in the concourse at the stadium where we were handed a piece of cardboard that would act as our ‘bed’ for the night.

 

At first, it seems almost exciting to be able to take part in something that you wouldn’t usually find yourself doing. However, as the night goes on this challenge becomes exactly that and it is a hard one. The home comforts that we regularly take for granted like a comfy pillow and a nice mattress are missed. You may feel tired but to find that position that you are comfortable enough to sleep in without the luxuries that we are accustomed to is very difficult. The neck aches and back aches begin and it makes it somewhat impossible to sleep. On top of that you are battling with the cold!

 

When you do finally manage to drift off to sleep you are constantly tossing and turning meaning that you aren’t actually getting the sleep required in order to be able to feel satisfied.

This really highlighted for us what those that are homeless have to endure and on a much tougher scale. This helped us all stick it out despite some of us wanting to leave at points, because we knew that these people don’t have that choice.

It was a real eye opener being able to experience the sleepout and we are so very grateful to all of the organisers and everyone who supported us and donated. We were aiming as a team to raise £1000 and to date we have raised £1193 so a huge thank you to all of you. We sincerely hope that this money can contribute to making a difference in Preston where homelessness is a major issue.

The Sleep Out had a target of £50,000 to raise for The Foxton Centre’s Housing First scheme and has already exceeded this in online donations. 

You can have a look at our photos from the event here:

https://bit.ly/2O4PdVs

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

 

Lancashire County Council chooses Cotton Court client to deliver its £11.25m Rosebud Fund

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A support fund available for businesses in Lancashire has a new team in charge of handing out loans designed to spark growth and jobs.

Lancashire County Council has chosen investment specialist GC Business Finance (GCBF) to deliver its £11.25m Rosebud business finance fund.

The team, based at Cotton Court, will oversee Rosebud loans from £10,000 to £300,000 for growing businesses over the next five years and will work alongside Lancashire County Developments.

It delivers more than £60m in finance to over 5,000 small and medium-sized enterprises each year. This includes managing the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund’s ‘microfinance’ funds, providing loans of between £25,000 and £100,000 to businesses across the powerhouse area.

Rosebud aims to create around 150 new jobs per year and will focus on sectors such as aerospace; advanced manufacturing; digital and creative; energy and environment; health innovation; and financial and professional services.

County councillor Michael Green, a cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “Over the last 30 years Rosebud has helped thousands of businesses across Lancashire to expand by tapping into finance to create new jobs, move premises and invest in technology. We’re incredibly pleased to be able to allocate a further £11.25m pounds to support growing Lancashire businesses to achieve their growth aspirations.”

Andy Walker, head of business growth and innovation at Lancashire County Council, said: “GC Business Finance already works closely with the Access 2 Finance service in Lancashire and has strong relationships with local businesses and the professional services community.

“It will help provide a seamless transition for the delivery of Rosebud finance, helping businesses create employment opportunities, especially the graduate-level jobs that can help us retain talent in Lancashire.”

 

Paul Breen, director of GC Business Finance, said: “Lancashire is a strong and vibrant economy and home to a vast number of successful businesses. However, some companies struggle to access funding through traditional means which is where Rosebud can play a vital role.”

Businesses interested in applying for Rosebud finance can do so through the county council website or Boost Business Lancashire. Applications for finance will be considered from businesses based in the administrative area of the council.

“Alongside GC Business Finance, the Growth Company is heading up a new initiative that has been launched across Lancashire to boost business productivity. Skills Support for the Workforce is a fully-funded programme designed to help employers bridge skills gaps in their organisation through bespoke training. Businesses can access a range of accredited and non-accredited programmes to help them upskill their staff – helping employees to progress in their careers. Skills Support for the Workforce aims to enhance staff productivity, increase morale and improve staff retention in organisations across the county”.

If you’d like more information on Skills Support for the Workforce in Lancashire and to see if your business is eligible, call 01772 920 750 or email WorkforceLancs@gcskills-support.uk.

International Cultural Awareness master class with BDC Moore!

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Join BDC Moore on Thursday 14th November 2019 here at Cotton Court for their International Cultural Awareness master class!

For whom is this Master Class?

  • Business owners
  • Team members dealing with international clients and/or suppliers
  • Team members attending international Trade Shows & Exhibitions
  • Marketing Professionals
  • Graphic Designers and Web Designers
  • HR professionals

Why should you attend this Master Class?

  • Learn how to avoid cultural pitfalls, which can be costly
  • Learn how to stay safe on international business trips
  • Learn how to build stronger and longer-lasting relationships
  • Learn how cultural awareness has a direct impact on your bottom line

What will be covered in this Master Class?

  • Meaning and impact of words, colours and symbols in different cultures
  • Legal and financial differences
  • How to stay politically correct
  • Impact of positive and negative stereotypes
  • How to use humour wisely

Limited number of spaces! Book your place now! 

Refreshments, lunch, workbook and free parking are included.

HLS Construction Training and Health and Safety Consultation

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We are pleased to be holding the HLS #SMSTS Refresher and #SSSTS course here at Cotton Court on the 23rd-24th and the 30th-31st October 2019!

HLS are specialists in Construction Training and Health and Safety Consultation across the UK and are delighted to announce the launch of their new Preston Venue!

The team of multidisciplinary Health and Safety Instructors can provide you with both Training and Consultancy services on request. They are highly qualified and motivated to provide a top-class service.  Having a North West base in Preston’s beautiful Cotton Court is fantastic as it’s so close to all amenities and travel is made so much easier.  HLS will be launching the CITB Site Safety Plus courses in October 2019 including Site Managers Training Scheme (SMSTS) and Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) and more.

Book your place now! https://www.health-life-safety.co.uk/open-courses/

Why not check them out on Facebook or Twitter for additional courses and special offers Or call Michelle on 07961 588 881

Experience Next Generation Wellness at Cotton Court Business Centre, with YOLO Wellbeing

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Cotton Court has teamed up with YOLO Wellbeing, a completely new and innovative, workplace wellness experience; to promote National Stress Awareness Day on 6th November 2019.

With a growing emphasis on mental health prevention, employers are finding themselves increasingly responsible for the welfare of their employees in the workplace. Forward-thinking businesses are already recognising that effective Wellbeing initiatives can have significant and positive benefits on morale, retention and reputation, particularly when looking at talent acquisition.  

Robert Binns, Cotton Court said “ After meeting with Cheryle and seeing the mobile unit, it was instantly something that I knew we had to have down at Cotton Court. And what better day to do it than on National Stress Awareness Day?

 Mental health and wellbeing has become such a big topic over recent times so it will be fantastic to be able to give staff and clients at Cotton Court the opportunity to be able to take 15 minutes out of their day to benefit from the YOLO Wellbeing experience”

The YOLO Wellbeing experience has been developed by Founder, Cheryle Britton, to offer workplace wellbeing that improves the physical and mental health of employees through the delivery of massage and meditation. Promoted as 15 minutes of pure relaxation; employees feel rewarded by their experience, and by their employer, making it a win-win investment.

The most unique element of YOLO Wellbeing is that it is delivered in a customised, mobile unit, which is brought to your premises; once onsite the van is completely self-sufficient, running on batteries fuelled by solar energy.  The YOLO Wellbeing environment is a very calm space, that allows you to very quickly de-stress and relax. 

Originally from a corporate background, Cheryle was keen to ensure that the YOLO Wellbeing experience is really easy to implement. In addition to the mobile space, she has created a secure online booking system.  This means your staff can book their own appointments in advance, minimising the need for internal planning and resource. 

Cheryle comments “I’m really excited to be working with Cotton Court to raise awareness of stress; particularly as it is one of the main contributors to mental ill/health and workplace absence.

“YOLO Wellbeing is has been designed to improve both the mental and physical health of your employees, whilst providing an experience that will significantly boost morale in your workplace.” 

About YOLO Wellbeing

The YOLO Wellbeing concept was developed by Founder, Cheryle Britton, who, whilst on a family holiday in Sri Lanka, she was inspired by the stress-relieving benefits of Ayurvedic Massage. She spent the next 12 months retraining, researching and developing the techniques used in the YOLO Wellbeing head, neck and shoulder massage; which in clinical trials have been proven to inhibit the release of the stress hormone, Cortisol; and boost the production of feel-good neurotransmitters: Serotonin, Dopamine and Oxytocin.

YOLO Wellbeing 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 15 minutes away from their desk to receive the treatment. For more information please visit www.yolowellbeing.co.uk.

National Baby Swimming Week With Water Babies!

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To celebrate National Baby Swimming Week which is 13th – 19th October 2019 we turn our attention to our second-floor residents Water Babies. In May last year, Holly Unsworth was the youngest ever owner of a Water Babies swimming business and has had an office at Cotton Court from day 1! 

Who are they?

25-year old Bolton-born Holly Unsworth runs the Lancashire and Bolton Water Babies, the world’s largest baby and toddler swimming franchise business.

The team, based at Cotton Court employs 15 people, including Jess (office manager), and admin assistants Gemma, VJ and Leo. 

What do they do?

The Lancashire and Bolton Water Babies franchise teaches around 900 babies a week. The sessions focus on teaching parents how to teach their babies to swim so that they can support them as they learn an important skill and develops confidence. As the world’s largest professional baby and toddler swimming programme, Water Babies teach around 47,000 children at over 560 pools every week.

What makes Water Babies great?

Baby swimming with Water Babies is an exciting, enriching experience for both parent and child. Not only does it teach vital life skills, but it also enhances the way babies and toddlers learn other skills, too. Holly and the team, work hard to make sure they have exceptionally high standards of professionalism, and no one else works harder to make sure the babies feel happy and safe. Holly said 

“ We always incorporate lots of bonding, fun and socialising, so you can be sure that a Water Baby is a happy baby!”

Find out more about what they do here… WaterBabies

The journey so far…

Holly was first inspired to dip her toe in the water as a Water Babies baby swimming teacher when she used to help out as a pool attendant as a teenager. She would watch the classes and be completely in awe of the incredible bond the teachers had with the babies. She always loved children, and she knew then that she wanted to be a part of this special time in their lives.

Holly gained several years’ teaching experience from working for a neighbouring Water Babies office, where she had the chance to run her own classes locally and jumped at it. 

What does Holly like best about having her own business?

She enjoys watching the little ones as they progress each week, and knowing that not only has she helped them in their swimming journey but have also watched them grow up, is a real privilege.

She enjoys the freedom that being her own boss gives her, she has a great team and loves being able to help her team develop and progress in their own careers. 

When asked what she thought made them successful, Franchisee Holly said “Everyone is so professional and willing to help. We’ll do as much as we can for each other and the customers and we’re all the best at what we do.” 

How can you find them?

You can get in touch with WaterBabies Lancashire by email at: digiswim@waterbabies.co.uk

Visit their website at: https://www.waterbabies.co.uk/lp/baby-swimming/lancashire

Follow them on Facebook: Water Babies (Lancashire)

Or call them on: 01772 921523