Swap Shop scheme gives local SMEs a chance to trade services

More than 150 small businesses, freelancers and charities have traded free services during the first three months of the Derby Swap Shop – with the platform now expanding into other parts of the East Midlands. Born in Covid-19 lockdown and based on the Multi-Coloured Swap Shop

children’s TV programme broadcast between 1976 and 1982, the website has enabled some Derbyshire organisations to survive and continue developing during the pandemic. The three Chamber members behind the scheme now plan to launch

similar platforms in Nottingham and Leicester. Rachel Hayward, managing director of bid-writing consultancy Ask the Chameleon and one of the Derby Swap Shop founders, said: “It was always our intention to expand the swap shop concept into our neighbours as we saw very quickly how positively the Derby community responded – and actually just how much the service was needed.

‘An idea based on a TV programme from our childhood still has resonance now’

“We have saved over £15,000 through swapping, which in any climate is

successful, but right now just goes to show that an idea based on a TV programme from our childhood still has resonance now. “Covid-19 has meant we needed to think differently, focusing on helping

each other to get through this. “Our thoughts are especially with Leicester and Leicestershire businesses

and charities right now, and we are working as quickly as we can to bring the platform to those communities who need it the most.” Derby Swap Shop was launched in April by Ms Hayward, sports apparel

brand Huub’s founder Dean Jackson and digital marketing agency Think3’s partner Lee Marples – who had been inspired by an idea from Safe and Sound Group CEO Tracy Harrison.

Within the first ten minutes of the website going live, 24 member

accounts were created and businesses begun offering “swaps” of services and goods such as reviewing workplace safeguarding policies, chasing invoices and submitting business award entries. Colleague Box, which helps businesses send personalised gifts and

messages to employees, offered five gift boxes in return for some PR exposure. “Within hours, the wonderful Kerry Ganly from Penguin PR was in

contact and, a week later, we were splashed across business pages digitally and in print,” said creative director Natalie Bamford. “I’ve since swapped twice more and regularly check the site for the latest

swaps. “The concept is simple, yes so effective.” Ms Ganly, PR manager at Penguin PR, added: “Colleague Box was the

very first swap which we took part in – and we are delighted to have struck up a great relationship with Natalie. “For us, swapping for one of the delicious treat boxes was a no-brainer and obtaining great coverage was easy as it’s a fantastic product.”

To begin swapping services in Derby, visit The Nottinghamshire service, titled Notts Swap Shop, is due to launch on 12 August and will be championed by the Business & IP Centre Nottingham and Nottingham CVS. Swaps can be made at

The Derby Swap Shop team is also searching for Leicestershire champions with a view to launching a similar service soon. For more information, email

Meridian helps ensure safe return to work

Innovative temperature-reading technology developed by a Leicestershire company will help businesses throughout the world reopen safely during the Covid-19 crisis.

Meridian Digital Solutions, based

in Peckleton, has mobilised facial recognition software in its personnel management system to remotely scan employees’ and visitors’ temperatures before allowing access to buildings. It says the technology, which can

be used across almost any industry, will save on costs by negating the need for handheld scanners that take up vital human resources while

ensuring the safety of everyone entering offices, factories and other premises. Managing director Andy Viner

(pictured) said: “We might be a small team based in rural Leicestershire, but our technology is having a big impact across all industries, giving people confidence that they can get back to work and visit local establishments. “While we’re beginning to open

up our economies once more, the threat coronavirus poses has not diminished, therefore it’s vital businesses have a robust plan for maintaining their operations in a safe way.

16 business network August/September 2020 “As many businesses are finding

with Meridian’s personnel management system, an important part of that plan is developed right here in the East Midlands.” Using facial recognition

technology, Meridian’s personnel management system can accurately screen people’s temperature, alerting staff if someone has a fever while allowing access to permitted employees and guests. It is already proving useful for

businesses ranging from big firms managing new shift patterns all the way down to small shops controlling the flow of customers into their store.

Meridian Digital Solutions MD Andy Viner

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