Black Country businesses benefit from peer-to-peer networking

Government funded Peer Network programme supports key sectors impacted by COVID-19.

The Black Country LEP Growth Hub is working with local partners to deliver four Peer Networking groups. Funded through the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the Peer Network programme is supporting businesses in sectors particularly negatively impacted by COVID19.

The Black Country LEP Growth Hub is working with Skills for Care, UK Metals Council, Midlands Aerospace Alliance and Black Country Chamber of Commerce to deliver networks in the following sectors: Health and Care; Metals; Aerospace; Rail. To-date 42 businesses have signed up.

Rachel Eade MBE, Chair of the Black Country LEP Growth Hub Competitiveness Board said: “The Peer Network programme, a pilot programme across the country is bringing a real and much needed support offer to business across the Black Country. By working with experienced and specialist partners, the Black Country LEP Growth Hub has been able to develop sector Led programmes that directly supports companies impacted by the on-going pandemic and, through the Peer Network, offer them real and on-going support as businesses focus on economic recovery, new growth and skills.”

Free to join, all that is required is time each month to join virtual sessions. The small-group sessions are led by a skilled facilitator and the programme also offers access to 1:1 mentoring, coaching or advice tailored to individual business needs. Businesses already signed up are benefitting through working alongside their peers, who are facing similar challenges, to find solutions to the real issues they are facing. Peer Networks brings together business leaders working collaboratively to find solutions to common problems. Businesses are not placed in a group with any competitors, so expertise can be shared from business to business.

Stef Kay, Chief Executive Officer, Bethphage, member of the Peer Network commented: “At times like this it is imperative that we support one another across the sector, hearing from each other and spending half an hour talking can be really helpful and uplifting.

“The past ten months have been very challenging at all levels, the charity I work for supports adults with learning disabilities, autism and mental health. We support people in their own homes, in care homes, in day opportunities and Shared Lives, so the impact of COVID has taken its toll in different ways across each type of service provision we deliver.

“I am pleased I joined the Network, a friendly voice on a Teams call, keen to listen, engage and support us has been hugely beneficial. I am looking forward to the next three sessions and hope that there is an appetite from other business leaders to continue meeting beyond the Peer Network programme.”

Daniel Cartwright, Commercial Director of EnPro Group, also a Peer Network member added: “Joining the Network is a big commitment but I am finding it both rewarding and useful, particularly at the moment. Without doubt, the fresh insights from our group are making significant and positive changes within our business right now and in my management style and behaviours.”

Growth Hubs are in the process of negotiating funding from BEIS to run more Peer-to-Peer cohorts from April 2021. If your business (with at least five employees) is in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall or Wolverhampton would like to take part, then contact the Black Country LEP Growth Hub for further details on 0300 770 2445 or email [email protected].