While facing the immense challenges being thrown at all businesses with the ongoing COVID crisis, food and drink firms in Central Bedfordshire can take comfort in knowing that support is still readily available, thanks to a scheme designed to help them not only to survive, but also flourish and grow.
FEAST2 (Food Enterprise Advisory Support Team) offers access to funding, sector events, technical advice and mentoring to eligible food and drink firms and despite the restrictions of lockdown is continuing to supply its wide range of services remotely.
The free project, which has awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds to manufacturers across the SEMLEP (South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership) area to help fund the purchase of production equipment, as well as provide guidance on everything from shelf life to labelling, food hygiene to sector accreditation, is proving to be invaluable to those who have already signed up.
One business owner who has enjoyed the significant benefits of the scheme has been able to cut his seven-day working week thanks to a grant of almost £3,000, enabling him to invest in vital kitchen equipment, thereby increasing efficiency and streamlining his production.
Meanwhile, another has tapped the wealth of expertise of FEAST2’s technical team to ensure her packaging and labelling meets legal standards, resulting in her saving the considerable consultancy costs which seeking such guidance elsewhere would have brought.
With many more similar successes already achieved, FEAST2 Project Leader Amanda Askew says that she is keen to hear from other Central Bedfordshire businesses which could take advantage of the support that’s available: “The pressures of the ongoing pandemic mean that more and more firms are turning to us for help and, while we’d much rather our services weren’t needed, it’s great that we can offer solutions to a wide range of issues they’re facing, whether that’s wanting funding or seeking business advice.
“We can help make a grant application as simple as possible, while, thanks to the mentoring we can provide, we can also be the listening ear which many are finding they are needing all the more through the crisis, so I’d urge any food and drink business to get in touch to see what assistance we can provide” she added.
FEAST2 was awarded to the Food & Drink Forum and is worth £3,934,176 in total. It will receive a further £1,967,089 in funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
It is open to eligible food and drink manufacturers within Central Bedfordshire and the wider SEMLEP (South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership) area, covering Milton Keynes, Bedford Borough, Luton, Aylesbury Vale in Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire.
For more details of the project, including registering your business for the free support that remains on offer remotely through the COVID-19 lockdown, please contact Amanda Askew at The Mallows Company on 01933 664437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org