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A visiting professor in manufacturing and construction at Birmingham City University has called on the UK construction industry to assist the Government and public in the coronavirus ‘war effort’. Mike Leonard, also CEO of industry CIC Building

Christina Jones: Huge opportunity

Making the switch

to online delivery Two Birmingham entrepreneurs are helping other enterprises switch to selling and delivering their services online in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Christina Jones and Steph

Middleton-Foster each run successful businesses on the internet and have pooled their resources together to help other businesses grow some of their web-based services through their new programme, SHiFT 30. Christina is the founder and

CEO of digital marketing business Blacktype Digital and Steph is the founder and CEO of virtual assistant business Outhouse-UK. Both have been part of the

NatWest Accelerator based at Brindleyplace. Blacktype Digital is a

Facebook Marketing Partner with a wide client base in the sports and outdoor event industry. Christina said: “Steph and I

believe that there is huge opportunity to not just survive but thrive during this period and we want to help as many businesses as we can through the process. “We know it can be quite a

daunting thing for a business owner who has previously worked predominantly in a physical/face to face capacity and one of our core objectives is to remove some of the overwhelm associated with this and offer practical support at a time when people really need it ”


Alliance, said the industry’s priority should be to save lives and that it will help in any way it can to battle against the pandemic. He said: “We are all facing an unprecedented health

crisis, which will result in a huge number of premature deaths and the collapse of many thousands of businesses in the construction sector alone.

‘The UK construction industry is currently going through the calm before the storm’

War effort: Mike Leonard “At this time our only priority must be to save lives

and the wider construction industry will step-up to play whatever roles will help, as we all go to war to defeat Covid-19. We have lorries, premises and skilled staff all ready to take on new tasks to help look after our people, as we fight the war against this invisible enemy. “The UK construction industry is currently going

through the calm before the storm, manufacturers of building materials are experiencing higher than usual demand as merchants, home builders and contractors try and get head of the curve and secure supplies. “The outdoor nature of the industry makes it safer than other sectors to carry on at the moment as

evidenced by the diggers in full swing, busily carrying out the enabling works for HS2. “As the threat increases and we move at speed

towards a now inevitable complete lockdown, construction will progressively close down. Mr Leonard also called for more to be done to

support workers in the industry. He added: “The industry is very grateful for the

unprecedented economic interventions so far, but much more needs to be done, particularly for the huge army of self-employed workers who make up the majority of the construction workforce.”

Podcasts to help SMEs during crisis

Aston Business School has launched a podcast series for the owners of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and experts to discuss how to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. The series, an extension

of the ‘Aston means business’ monthly podcast, gives a voice to SMEs run by those who have undertaken programmes at the Aston Centre for Growth, with Aston Business School academics offering insights into the critical issues facing business owners. The podcasts are hosted by

Steve Dyson, a business journalist and former daily newspaper editor who has presented dozens of regional programmes for BBC’s HARDtalk series. And in response to the

government guidelines on social distancing, all interviews are being recorded remotely. The first episode features:

• Mark Hart, Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, speaking about the impact that Covid-19 is having on SMEs • Joe Fearn, owner of CircusMASH, an entertainment, training and

community engagement company, discussing how he’s

adapting online delivery options

• Lee Hopley, deputy director, Enterprise Research Centre at Aston Business School, discussing the government’s package of financial measures for SMEs. The second episode features:

• Sarah Beattie, of Fun Fest for Children, explaining how she’s

already furloughed her staff using the government’s 80 per cent job retention scheme, and is initially making up their pay • Kathy Daniels, an associate professor at Aston Business School and expert in employment law, discussing the government's employment assistance. Paula Whitehouse (pictured),

associate dean at Aston Business School and Director of the Centre for Growth, said: “We realise that the Covid-19 crisis is a disaster for small businesses, and we wanted to do something to help give SMEs a voice and reassure them that they’re not alone. “We hope that through these

podcasts we can share some positive stories about how SMEs are dealing with Covid-19.” The podcasts can be listened to

at business-school/podcast and all main podcast apps.

Contact: Henrietta Brealey T: 0121 274 3266

UK construction industry urged to join Covid fight

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