UWE's recession beating service helps disabled people

Issue date: 21 September 2009

Indoor Climbing  - one of the events organised by Out & About & Away Mother of two Julie Owen has started a new company providing activity breaks for people with special needs based in UWE Ventures Bristol, the University of the West of England's business incubation centre on Bristol's Harbourside.

Julie was inspired to start Out & About & Away, a service for people with disabilities, older people and children with special needs, because her 21 year old daughter, despite profound and multiple learning difficulties, is keen on exciting outdoor activities.

Julie's business is the first one to take up subsidised space in UWE's new incubator as part of the University's 'solutions4recession' initiative. Her company will take people out for day trips, weekends away and holidays, enabling families and carers to have some respite. She is receiving a 50% discount off the monthly charges for space in the fully equipped incubator for the first 12 months.

UWE Ventures Bristol provides flexible and cost effective facilities, support and resources for small and start-up businesses. The site facilitates access to a dynamic, creative and supportive environment which welcomes scalable, innovative businesses from across the full range of social and cultural sectors. The team at UWE Ventures, working with Business Link, are also able to assist clients in identifying potential sources of funding for start-up companies.

Julie says, “Out & About & Away has already planned our first overseas trip, to EuroDisney just outside Paris. My daughter is a real party animal, keen to try lots of activities, and I realised there is a need for this sort of service.”

UWE's 'solutions4recession' initiative offers a wide range of services to businesses and individuals affected by the current economic downturn. Eligible individuals can access a free one-to-one appointment with a professionally qualified and experienced careers consultant, business advice, a series of specialist workshops, online learning tools and University library facilities and can also take advantage of reduced fees for a wide range of professional and short courses. Businesses can use these services to help staff affected by redundancy and can also receive training needs analyses to identify where and how workforce skills could be increased, as well as large discounts on QuickMark®, UWE's market assessment service.

“We've had a great response from individuals faced with redundancy and from our Jobcentre Plus colleagues,” said Stephen Batty of UWE's Research, Business and Innovation department (RBI), who managed the project from successful bid through to service launch. “This is a great opportunity for us to engage directly with those affected by recession and provide them with support.”

The recession-beating initiative was made possible by external funding of almost £1m including £500,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) Economic Challenge Investment Fund (ECIF).

The solutions4recession Project Coordinator will divide their time between Bush House on Bristol's Harbourside, where the UWE Ventures business incubator is situated, and the South West Skills Development Centre on Bond Street, where there will soon be a drop-in service three days a week.

“I'm really excited about solutions4recession,” said project manager Fern Urquhart. “It's fantastic that we can make such a wide range of assistance available to individuals and businesses during these difficult times.

“The input of the University's careers consultants, business advisors and enterprise staff means that we can provide a dynamic offering, with resources that can be tailored to meet specific needs.”

Visit www.uwe.ac.uk/solutions for more information.

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