Cotton Court Business Centre

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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.

 

Yolo wellbeing

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As our visit from Cheryle at YOLO Wellbeing was such a huge hit last year, we have decided to do it again!

Cheryle is the founder and owner of YOLO Wellbeing. She created a sensory experience that combines massage and meditation in a specially designed mobile environment that means she is able to travel to you and offer this service from your workplace. The YOLO Wellbeing experience is designed to help improve physical and mental health and is a great way to reward and boost employees morale.

We have teamed up with Cheryle in order to be able to offer this unique experience again to our clients and staff for Stress Awareness Day on the 6th April, Massage at Work Week on the 3rd June and Stress Awareness Week on the 3rd November.

The feedback that we received from staff and clients last time round was really positive with everyone commenting on how relaxed they felt and how it had set them up to continue their day with a positive mindset. With the awareness days coming up, it seemed like the perfect idea to get Cheryle back and treat our clients and staff once again!

Growth Company Offering Fully Funded Training for Lancashire Businesses

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Cotton Court residents Growth Company are delivering the Skills Support for the Workforce programme across Lancashire. It 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.

The Skills Support for the Workforce programme is commissioned by the ESFA and working with the Lancashire LEP, Skills Support for the Workforce offers fully-funded support to help you develop staff through a range of training programmes which are tailored to your business needs.

Growth Company offers a variety of accredited and non-accredited programmes in sectors such as Engineering & Manufacture, Hospitality, Logistics, Management, Health & Social Care, Construction, and Creative & Digital.

These qualifications are aimed at individuals who would like to develop the skills and knowledge to progress within their chosen career. They are industry-recognised qualifications, assessing both knowledge and competence that are transferable across a range of competencies.

What’s on offer:
Analysis of current skills gaps in your business and tailored learning plans to meet them
Delivery of the qualifications within the workplace and with minimal disruption

Our programmes:
Accredited full level 2 and part level 3 qualifications are available alongside tailored support for your business
Can be used to develop basic skills in IT and digital
Include specialist support for businesses going through restructures and where staff are at risk of redundancy
Benefits  for your business:
A higher skilled workforce
Fewer skills gaps
Increase staff productivity
Improved staff retention
Enhanced morale
Opportunities are available to progress onto apprenticeships or higher-level qualifications after completing this training.
For more information please visit

2019 Barnardo’s Gift Appeal Success

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Christmas 2019 saw Cotton Court’s 7th annual Barnardo’s gift appeal, and we decided to change things up a bit this year.

Before the appeal launched, Amy (Centre Manager) and Rochelle (Account Executive) went over to Leyland to meet with Jenny and her team at the Barnardo’s Bay6 Project. Bay6 is supported accommodation for young people aged 16 – 21. It was a real eye opener to meet the people that Barnardo’s supports and hear about the circumstances that led to them becoming residents. It was also great to find out what kind of presents they would like to receive on Christmas Day. Choosing gifts for people is always difficult, and it’s even harder when you don’t know who you are buying for. By finding out the type of gifts they would like, we were able to put together a gift suggestion list to make it a little bit easier for those who wished to donate.

It was also a great way to get a better understanding of how our appeal helps them and also the young children that Barnardo’s supports. After our visit, we were even more keen to drive the appeal forward and do our absolute best to generate as much interest as possible.

In previous years, we only had one way of donating – individuals came into Cotton Court to drop off their gift. This year we looked at other ways people could donate so that we could make it more accessible to those not local to Preston or who couldn’t make it into the office. This led to us introducing the JustGiving page, in addition to encouraging people to order a gift from Amazon and send it over to us. Both methods proved to be very popular, with people from many different parts of the country getting involved and donating.

The appeal ran for just over three weeks, and the generosity shown in this time by members of the public and local businesses was truly amazing. December ’tis the season of goodwill after all, and you guys did not disappoint! The donations poured in each day –  some days there would be a continuous stream of visitors, from the moment we opened until the moment we closed. Our posts on social media were shared far and wide and this generated increased interest in the appeal and contributed to even more people getting involved.

The appeal was due to end on Monday 16th ready for Jenny and her team to come over to collect the gifts in time for Christmas. Due to the amount we were receiving, we extended the deadline, with our last donation coming in just twenty minutes before they arrived.

To say that they were blown away is an understatement! The donations that we received were distributed between the teams and because of the kindness and generosity shown, hundreds of disadvantaged children and young people woke up to an unexpected present on Christmas Day.

It is impossible to fully express in words how grateful we are and how heartwarming it is to see a community come together to support those less fortunate. Robert Binns, Managing Direct at Cotton Court said: “We are blown away by the support that members of the local community have shown the appeal this year. We’ve collected hundreds of gifts for this fantastic cause and would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that donated, no matter how big or small the donation it will go a long way to making a difference this Christmas to the child or young person that receives it.” 

As the years go by, the number of people who rely on this appeal grows, and consequently – so does the need for more gifts. With this in mind, we sincerely hope that we will again have the support from local businesses and members of the public far and wide, so that we can make it a memorable Christmas for many more this year.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2020!

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

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

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!

National Stress Awareness Day with Yolo Wellbeing!

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Last week, to mark National Stress Awareness Day, we invited Cheryle from YOLO Wellbeing down to Cotton Court.

The aim was to provide our staff and clients with the YOLO Wellbeing Experience. 

 Cheryle’s mobile unit is geared up to provide a relaxing 15 minutes out of the office with tranquil mood lighting and a short video of either water, sunset or mountains to really help you relax whilst she gives you a neck, back and shoulder massage to relieve any tension that we may get as a  result of feeling stressed.

Mental health and stress is one of the most common reasons for absence in the workplace. The 2018 Wellbeing Survey from Cigna 360 reports that 87% of employees in the UK feel stressed, yet just one in 10 work somewhere that offers them a wellbeing programme.

It was really important for us to be able to highlight Stress Awareness Day and to be able to promote wellbeing in the workplace. Not only does it improve staff morale, it also increases productivity levels and greater engagement between staff and clients.

Cotton Court Director, Robert Binns, said “YOLO Wellbeing offered a completely unique way to improve workplace wellbeing and demonstrate our investment in our peoples welfare. The feedback from our clients and the staff at Cotton Court has far exceeded my expectations and I look forward to booking additional dates.”

Cotton Court client, VJ Brand from Waterbabies Lancashire said ‘ I loved the head massage and the meditation side of things where I could just relax, close my eyes, enjoy the treatment and open my mind as well. I’m ready to go, so thank you YOLO Wellbeing for a lovely massage and hopefully, you’ll be back at Cotton Court soon!’

It was a great opportunity to be able to offer this service to our clients and staff and definitely something that we would recommend to other businesses. 

If you would like your staff or your workplace to benefit from the YOLO Wellbeing Experience then visit https://yolowellbeing.co.uk/

Suggested Gifts for Teenagers and Young Adults

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Struggling for what to buy one of the Barnardo’s supported teenagers and young adults? Please see some of the suggested gifts below.

 

 

  • Cooking Utensils
  • Toiletries
  • Gift Cards
  • Portable Speakers
  • Clothing Accessories
  • Make-up
  • Perfume
  • Aftershave
  • Diaries
  • Stationery
  • Adult Colouring Books
  • DVD’s
  • Books
  • Cinema Vouchers
  • Vouchers for Restaurants (Pizza Hut etc.)
  • Pictures / Posters for Walls
  • Mugs
  • Caps
  • Hats
  • Dressing Gown
  • P.J’s
  • Slipper Socks
  • Chocolates and Sweets
  • Bluetooth Speakers
  • Wallet / Purse
  • Diary
  • Photo Frame
  • Earphones / Headphones
  • DAB Radio
  • Beard Cream / Oil
  • Experience Day Out
  • Gift Cards

We hope those suggestions have given you some inspiration and we would once again like to thank you for supporting this great cause. Have a merry Christmas.