How small businesses are vital to our communities at a time of national emergency

News 15 Apr 2020

As the UK works together to overcome the coronavirus pandemic crisis, small businesses across the country are proving how much they’re at the heart of our communities – pulling together in extraordinary ways to help others.

From unexpectedly adapting their business capabilities so they can produce much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) or hand sanitiser; to offering free food and drink to key workers in the NHS, or helping the most at-risk groups from the new coronavirus by providing them with supplies. There are many examples.

FSB research (2019) found that 80 per cent of small businesses contribute to their local community or to charity. It is no surprise that so many small business – who are able to - are going above-and-beyond to adapt and innovate to play their part in dealing with this national emergency, despite, in many cases, facing challenges themselves. 


In Northern Ireland, FSB member Bloc Blinds, based in Magherafelt, has repurposed its production line and gone into PPE. It will be able to produce 22,000 face shields a day and is aiming to ramp up production volume in the weeks ahead

In Chesterfield, care provider and FSB member One to One Support Services has joined with another smaller business to produce a clear face shield free of charge for staff who work in health and social care sector to use. 

In Kintore, Aberdeenshire, Jim Reid Vehicle Services has loaned cars to a local charity which helps NHS staff get to work. In Bridgend, Argies coffee shop has donated coffee to doctors and nurses on hospital wards. Small gin distilleries, including Loch Ness Spirits and Shetland Reel have switched to producing hand sanitiser to help meet shortages.

In North Yorkshire, Ainsty Ales independent brewery has turned its premises in the village of Acaster Malbis, which doesn’t have any shops, into a community hub providing provisions for villagers who are older.


Free-from food brand and FSB Small Business of the Year 2018 Creative Nature, based in Surrey, has been donating its food bar products to NHS workers.

These are just a few examples. We know that small businesses play a huge role in helping to make our villages, towns, cities, rural spaces more vibrant and connected places. Many donate time, contribute skills, offer apprenticeships, and more than nine-out-of-ten small employers have hired at least one staff member from a harder-to-reach part of the labour market.

Their contribution to the economy may be temporarily curtailed by the global coronavirus pandemic. But their willingness to contribute to communities is not.

If you are a small business that has a similar story to tell, please let us know on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #SmallBizBigHeart and don't forget to tag us.

Acknowledgements
Thank you to the many FSB members who have shared their positive stories with us to inform this article, including (but not limited to):
Bloc Blinds, Magherafelt, Northern Ireland
One to One Support Services, Chesterfield, England  
Hutchinson’s PVC Solutions Ltd.
Jim Reid Vehicle Services, Kintore, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Argies Coffee Shop, Bridgend, Wales
Ainsty Ales, North Yorkshire, England
Creative Nature, Surrey, England
Loch Ness Spirits, Scotland
Shetland Reel, Scotland

About FSB

As the UK’s largest business support group, FSB is the voice of the UK’s small businesses and the self-employed. Established over 40 years ago to help its members succeed in business, FSB is a non-profit making and non-party political organisation that’s led by its members, for its members. As the UK’s leading business campaigner, FSB is focused on delivering change which supports smaller businesses to grow and succeed.

FSB offers members a wide range of vital business services, including access to finance, business banking, legal advice and support along with a powerful voice in Government. Each year FSB also runs the UK’s Celebrating Small Business Awards. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk. You can follow us on twitter @fsb_policy and on Instagram @fsb_uk.

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Kerry Curtis
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