The Volunteer Business Support Scheme is a Hertfordshire Growth Hub service run by the University of Hertfordshire, and is one of three schemes that together form a £3.28m package of measures being put in place by Hertfordshire LEP to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. The scheme aims to help hundreds of Hertfordshire businesses struggling in the current climate, but volunteers with business experience are needed now.

Each volunteer will be provided with training and given a role based on their previous experience. They will then be partnered with businesses to provide them with remote support and help them navigate the challenges they are facing. The scheme will run for an initial period of six months and, subject to demand, may continue beyond this six-month period.

Adrian Hawkins, Deputy Chair for the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “I am delighted that the University of Hertfordshire will be an intrinsic link and co-ordinate the advice that Hertfordshire businesses need at this time. It’s a truly tough world and COVID-19 is not just affecting our country but the health of the nation. As a successful business owner with some 40 years business experience, this is an environment that none of us have experienced before. This virus is having a severe effect on our businesses that are essential not only for the goods and services they supply, but also the employment they provide and the taxes that they pay to support our economy and our country.

"It is vital therefore that we do everything in our power to help Hertfordshire businesses survive this storm. Our business support services and the many volunteers are essential in making sure Hertfordshire-based companies continue the great work they do once the lockdown has finished.”

Julie Newlan, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business and International Development) at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “This is a challenging time for many businesses and there has been a growing demand for more help, which is why we’ve launched this new Scheme.

“Hertfordshire is particularly vulnerable to a severe economic downturn, particularly as the County is home to a high number of micro, small and medium sized businesses. As a result of the pandemic many of them are facing closure and this could have a devastating effect on the local economy.

“This is why this Scheme is so vital. The volunteers will be facing the same challenges as the businesses they will be supporting, which is why it is more important now than ever that we come together for the benefit of the community and local economy.”

Volunteers can find out more and sign-up to the scheme by visiting the University of Hertfordshire website.

Businesses interested in benefitting from the scheme should contact Hertfordshire Growth Hub, which will refer those that are eligible.

Hertfordshire LEP COVID-19 Business Support Package

The Volunteer Business Support Scheme is part of a £3.28m package of measures being put in place by Hertfordshire LEP to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19. This includes: 

Crowdfund Hertfordshire: Small Business Innovation Fund: this will support small and micro businesses within the tourism, leisure, hospitality, retail, arts and cultural sectors. Hertfordshire LEP has set aside £200k to support the scheme, which will be administered by Visit Herts and offer grant funding up to a maximum of £5,000 on a £1 for £1 match basis.

Hertfordshire Business Expansion Grant Scheme: open to all SMEs (subject to eligibility for receipt of ERDF funds). Grants for capital expenditure will range from £10k - £100k and will require a minimum £1 for £1 match and the creation of at least one new job. Hertfordshire Growth Hub will manage enquiries and make referrals to the LEP and its programme partner Finance South East for grant consideration.