Bradford Businesses Successful in Community Business Challenge

Five community businesses in Bradford have each been awarded £10,000 in the M&S Community Business Challenge. The successful businesses are:

  • Bread + Roses
  • The Thornbury Centre
  • Margaret Magdalene CIC
  • Friends of Silsden Town Hall
  • Queensbury Celtic Football Club

This business support programme is a partnership between M&S and Power to Change and PWC.

All five businesses received £10,000, an offer of business advice from M&S and an opportunity to join PwC’s social entrepreneur club, which offers:

  • a business strategy
  • strategic business advice
  • advice on how to continue to grow
  • advice on how to create efficiencies

Congratulations to the five successful businesses. We look forward to seeing them develop through this support from M&S and Power to Change.

Bradford businesses supporting the circular economy

Circular Yorkshire

By Dave Baldwin

She dreamed of being sailor as a young girl and saved her school lunch money to buy her first boat. Dame Ellen MacArthur made sailing history in 2005 when she set the solo speed record for circumnavigating the world. During the 71-day, 27,000-mile voyage, the yachtswoman experienced a powerful realisation, one that would change the course of her life.

In an interview with The Guardian, she recalled: “I remember quite poignantly writing in the log on the boat; ‘What I have got on the boat is everything’. It really struck me that you save everything, everything you have, because you know it’s finite, you know there isn’t any more. What you have on that boat is it, your entire world.”

Dame Ellen added: “The basis of my thinking was completely around resources. It was around the pure fact – stemming from what I had learned on the boat – that resources are finite. The more I learned, I just saw this as the greatest challenge I had ever come across. If we are using these resources in a very linear fashion we are going to use them up at some stage, and no one knows exactly when.”

With this acute awareness of the limitations of the widespread linear approach to resources, she launched the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to develop a sustainable alternative known as the circular economy, based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use and regenerating natural systems.

The University of Bradford has worked closely with Dame Ellen since the launch of her foundation nearly a decade ago. The foundation helps businesses and organisations to accelerate the transition to a more regenerative economic model and has published a series of seminal studies on the business case for the circular economy, winning accolades from the World Economic Forum and helping to shape government policy.

In partnership with the foundation and businesses including B&Q, BT, Cisco, Renault and National Grid, the university introduced the world’s first circular economy MBA in 2011, equipping students and their sponsoring bodies with the skills to use resources and energy more effectively, reuse products and materials and deliver increased profits. The foundation recognised Bradford’s world-leading expertise in the field with Pioneer University status, a big deal for the institution and our region.

November is Circular Yorkshire month, a new campaign to increase understanding of circular economy principles and business benefits. With Bradford’s extensive knowledge and experience of this new economic model, we are proud to support the initiative. Find out more by searching for #CircularYorkshire online.

Our business community leads the way in many areas of environmental performance, according to the latest Leeds City Region Business Survey. The survey of 2,000-plus companies across the region revealed that Bradford businesses are more likely to operate schemes to save energy, water and waste. They will tend to use environmentally friendly technologies and have formal environmental accreditations. And they will probably have taken action to clean up their supply chains. Economists say businesses undertaking at least one of these actions are more likely to report stronger growth in turnover and employment. A win-win, in other words.

Given the strength of the advanced manufacturing sector in Bradford, I am not surprised at our strong showing in this survey. Manufacturers are resourceful by nature and typically have a global outlook. They also have a business imperative; a growing number of their OEM customers have mandated environmentally friendly practices in supply chains, largely driven by regulatory and consumer demands. 

One of Bradford’s largest private employers, Yorkshire Water, sees Bradford as ideal for its circular economy developments. Liz Barber, Yorkshire Water CEO, said: “The masterplan for our 32-acre site at Esholt should see it become a real beacon for sustainable development. It will retain the existing treatment works which already generates much of its own power and other developments will bring in sustainable housing and new industries which can also make use of the heat and grey water generated from the works.” This column turns full circle and returns to Dame Ellen for the close. This inspirational woman has strong links with Bradford. Her mother and grandmother were born in the city, which virtually makes her one of our own. We are enormously proud of the work she is doing and urge businesses to embrace the principles of the circular economy if they have not already done so. The circular economy supports economic growth, builds community resilience and addresses climate change, three of the most important challenges of our time.

Bradford is the most improved city to live and work

Bradford City Park

Bradford has been named as the most improved city in a nationwide study of the best places to live and work in the UK.

Bradford’s standing as this year’s top improver is driven by jobs, work-life balance and skills amongst its 25+ year olds.

Bradford has experienced a large reduction in its unemployment rate, measured at 4.1% in 2018 compared to 10% in 2015. The city also demonstrated moderate improvements in work-life balance, health, environment and skills amongst the adult population.

Bradford Council Chief Executive Kersten England said:

“We are delighted to be rated as the most improved city in this year’s Good Growth Index. This is in part is recognition of our employment growth and the great quality of life in the district.

“This has come during a great year where there are many positives to point to – from great national businesses investing in the district such as the NEC and Channel 4 to our strong local businesses such as the growing EXA Networks in the IT sector and expanding high-tech engineering businesses such as Global Precision Engineering in Keighley.

“The district has recently been rated by Barclays as the best city to start a business in the UK and we have welcomed the creation of over two thousand businesses in the first nine months of 2019.

“We know there is more to do and we are looking forward to building on this success.”

The annual Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities 2019 sets out to show there’s more to economic well-being than just measuring GDP. The index measures the performance of 42 of the UK’s largest cities, England’s Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and ten Combined Authorities, against a basket of ten factors which the public think are most important when it comes to economic well being. These include jobs, health, income and skills, as well as work-life balance, house-affordability, travel-to-work times, income equality, environment and business start-ups.

Bradford businesses giving opportunities to young people

Bradford Manufacturing Week

By Dave Baldwin

Lenworth George Henry didn’t seem destined for greatness. One of seven children from a Jamaican family in Dudley, he failed his 11-plus exam, went to the local secondary school and left at 16 with no qualifications. But he did have a science teacher, Mr Brookes, who encouraged his comedy ambitions by letting him use a reel-to-reel recorder to rehearse funny voices.

Now 61, Sir Lenny Henry is a much-loved comedian, actor, writer and bona fide national treasure. This month he visited Bradford as part of his book tour, Who Am I, Again? His show at the newly refurbished St George’s Hall promised funny and sad stories from growing up in the Black Country, covering school, friendship, family secrets and unashamed racism.

But without the encouragement of that kindly teacher, who knows how his life would have turned out. It is so important that children get the chance to follow their interests and discover their talents. In every classroom I believe there is potential greatness, just waiting to be unlocked.

It’s not just teachers and parents who hold the key. The old proverb reminds us it takes a whole village to raise a child, meaning that an entire community of people must interact with children for them to grow into well-adjusted adults. In Bradford, we are lucky to have a strong business community with a powerful sense of social responsibility.

This comes to the fore in the Bradford Manufacturing Weeks, delivered by Bradford Chamber of Commerce and backed by the Bradford Economic Partnership. This year’s initiative is on track to create 6,000 work experiences with 65 manufacturers involved, double the number of 2018’s inaugural programme.

Employers including Solenis, Acorn Stairlifts, Produmax, Keighley Laboratories and Melrose Interiors are organising work placements, school talks and site tours for 14-18-year-old school pupils. As well as helping boost apprenticeship numbers, these can also give young people a glimpse of the inspiring, innovative and rewarding enterprises creating wealth and prosperity across our district.

An estimated 45 secondary schools took part in this year’s scheme, which has won national praise. Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson said: “Following on from last year’s success, I know Bradford Manufacturing Weeks can go from strength to strength, with more businesses and young people involved.

“In my speech to Conservative Party conference, I said how apprenticeships and technical and vocational education are just as important and as valuable as going to university and are just as important to our economy. They can make sure Britain succeeds in the future.

“And it is excellent projects like this that can show young people some of the exciting and valuable opportunities there and give them the belief that with the right help and support they can achieve anything they want.”

Mr Williamson, a social sciences graduate of Bradford University, knows the importance of the state education system; he is the product of a Scarborough comprehensive school and is married to a former primary teacher.

Nick Garthwaite, managing director of Bradford-based laundry detergent manufacturer Christeyns, is the founder of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks. He said: “It’s fantastic to receive support from the Government which further demonstrates that we are on absolutely the right track with our initiative. We have created a model that is working and most importantly, a model which gives young people an insight into the wonderful world of manufacturing and in many cases, it is proving a game changer in their career decision-making process.”

Mr Garthwaite added: “That said, businesses, education providers and the Government have a lot more work to do to promote the apprenticeship programmes to make them become an even more attractive option. This is why Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is such an important part of our district’s business calendar and why we intend to grow the participants, the experiences and the momentum in years to come.”

Every pupil should be able to have meaningful encounters with employers in Bradford. We know this will dramatically increase their chances of success in the workplace. At a deeper level, simply encouraging young people to follow their interests and discover their talents can be incredibly powerful. As Sir Lenny says, “we all bloom towards the sunlight”.

Talented Bradford writers producing outstanding theatre

By Dave Baldwin

Tech and media giants are piling billions of dollars into streaming services. Netflix is spending $15bn a year on new content. Apple is committing $6bn to catch up. Disney is joining the fray with its new streaming brand. The fate of all this investment will live or die by the quality of its output. That will be determined by the quality of input. Good writing, in other words.

Bradford offers an astonishingly rich seam of original content. The district is producing some very exciting new writers. BD Stories, presented by theatre company Freedom Studios, perfectly illustrates the point. The double bill of short short plays celebrates the stories and cultures of Bradford. The production is a triumph of emerging writing talent and points to a promising future.

BD Stories

The first play, Number 4, is set in a women’s basketball team and tells a powerful and universal story of friendship, identity, body image and sport. The playwright Asma Elbadawi was born in Sudan and moved to Bradford as a young child. She overcame dyslexia to become a poet, performance artist and writer. She is also a basketball player, coach and global brand ambassador for Adidas.

“Growing up with dyslexia means I had an issue with spelling,” Asma told the BBC. “I would just write the poems and not share them. As I got older, I got the urge to share my work a lot more… Anyone can do those amazing things they see other people do.”

Asma has performed at TEDx Bradford, Bradford Literature Festival, Liverpool Acoustic Festival, Women of the World Festival and London Word of Mouth. She won the 2015 Words First poetry competition in Leeds. Her poetry and interviews have featured on the BBC, Al Jazeera, Channel 4 and Buzzfeed. Number 4 is her first play.

The second play, Pashto Thriller, tells the story of a teenage British-Pakistani girl growing up in Bradford in the 1980s, struggling with having to wear a shalwar kameez at school and harbouring a secret love of Michael Jackson and dancing. When Bibi visits from Pakistan, grandmother and granddaughter find more in common than they thought. It is an exhilarating play; funny, sad and joyful.

It is Aina J Khan’s first play. She moved to Bradford aged 15 and based the story on her and her mother’s experiences. Aina is a journalist and has been published in the Guardian, Al Jazeera, Vogue, Financial Times and Vice. She told The Yorkshire Post: “Within Bradford, there is such a volcano of talent and creativity because there are so many people who are starving to tell their stories because they have been neglected for so long. They have not had the funding and focus that other cities like London have had.”

Both Aina and Asma were associate artists at Freedom Studios, a pioneering theatre company responsible for developing artistic and creative talent in Yorkshire. They were encouraged simply to write about what they wanted to write about. Audiences will agree the results are outstanding. “Significant, important and inspiring”, said writer, critic and BBC presenter Nick Ahad of their work.

Alex Chisolm, co-artistic director, said: “BD Stories came about to bring these two plays to a wider audience in Bradford, an audience that has wholeheartedly embraced both plays. Freedom Studios exists to nurture new talent and new stories and bring them to life with and for communities. Bradford has a richness of stories in all of the connections, and frictions, between its many communities. And it has a wealth of talent to tell those stories to a wider world.”

All this bodes well for our bid to host UK City of Culture in 2025. It shows why Channel 4 chose to set up its new national headquarters on our doorstep. A canny move. Studios looking for the next big streaming hit would do well to look beyond the usual sources for their inspiration. They will find plenty to write home about in Bradford.

Bradford businesses perform well on environmental actions

Circular Yorkshire

The results of the 2019 Leeds City Region (LCR) business survey have recently been published. Among the results, the survey shows that businesses in the Bradford District are performing above the regional average on a number of environmental actions.

More than half of Bradford District businesses said that they operate a recycling scheme and use environmentally friendly technologies or products.

LCR business survey environmental actions
Environmental actions by Bradford business compared with the regional average

A higher than average number of Bradford District businesses also:

  • operate an energy saving scheme
  • operate a water saving scheme
  • operate a waste minimisation scheme
  • use environmentally friendly technologies/products
  • have formal environmental accreditation
  • have taken action to green their supply chain

Across the LCR, businesses undertaking at least one of these environmental actions are more likely to report stronger performance, and growth in employment and turnover.

As an example of a local business improving environmental standards, Texfelt, a company who make carpet underlay from upcycled plastic bottles, have recently invested in a new manufacturing facility in Bradford.

Read the full results of the 2019 LCR business survey on the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership website.

Bradford’s UK City of Culture bid is a sign of increased optimism

Dancers at the Bradford 2025 launch event

By Dave Baldwin

Monty Python was right: always look on the bright side of life. A major US study of more than 70,000 people has confirmed that optimists live longer than those with a negative outlook. The researchers from Boston University also found that positive people were more likely to set themselves goals and believe they would achieve them.

That’s the point I want to make here. To be successful at anything, you must believe in yourself. Bradford’s bid to host the UK City of Culture in 2025 is a sure sign of growing self belief. If you doubt me, have a look at Jack King’s We Are All Bradford film, the first commission for the bid, and feel the sense of confidence and optimism in the way people of all ages and backgrounds are talking about our district.

“It’s a city of constant stimulation… it’s always challenging you and asking you questions… it’s a city of joy and a home away from home… a city of industrial innovation… of creative and artistic innovation… and a city of the world,” according to some of the voices in the film. See it for yourself and share it with your friends.

Winning host status is our goal and we are going all out to achieve it. Businesses have an important role to play. Suzanne Watson, President of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, said: “We support Bradford’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025. Businesses know they will be more successful operating in a vibrant, aspirational place. Being UK City of Culture would help us to share more widely the assets and enthusiasm that we see locally.

“I think that the bid process itself will bring in different stakeholders to contribute positively to the campaign and this will highlight some of the very significant gains that Bradford can achieve by being accorded this designation. We already have lots to shout about but being UK City of Culture can help us make a step-change in this area. The bid will demonstrate Bradford’s global connectivity, its strong partnership working and its historical and continuing contributions to the arts, commerce, politics, sport and innovation… to name just a few areas.”

Sandy Needham, Chief Executive at West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “It’s the arts, sport, the environment and people that define the culture of a city. Bradford’s museums, festivals, architecture, sport, international food and young population make it a welcoming place. For many visitors, it exceeds expectations. It’s a good place to start a business too – workspace costs are reasonable, for example, and there’s a growing population.

“Recruitment is a competitive market so being based in a city offering quality of life and cultural activities makes a difference to how attractive jobs are. Initiatives such as our own Bradford Manufacturing Weeks help raise awareness of local career opportunities while businesses in that particular sector are already exporting their products all over the world, and so promoting Bradford.”

Bradford does face extraordinary challenges. But it also presents extraordinary opportunities. I’m an optimist. I believe that if we all work together and get our noses pointing in the same direction, we can achieve great things: whether that’s adding £4bn to our district economy, getting 20,000 extra people into work, raising the skills levels of 48,000 more or winning the bid to host the UK City of Culture in 2025. If there is ever any doubt, give a whistle and remember: always look on the bright side of life.

Business leaders, by their nature, tend to be positive people. Given the constant cut and thrust of running a business, it is essential to see the glass as half full. They can make a big difference to our bid by showing their support. To find out more, I invite them to get in touch with the Bradford Chamber or visit the Bradford 2025 City of Culture website.

Bradford Chamber State of the District business breakfast

The next Bradford Chamber Property Forum and Professional’s Network business breakfast will be held on Wednesday 4 December 2019.

The focus of this ‘State of the District’ event will be:

  • How has Bradford changed in the last 12 months?
  • What improvements have the Bradford District seen in 2019?
  • What challenges and opportunities will we face in the next couple of years?
  • Hear the views of Bradford’s top civic leaders, and put your questions to them on what you’d like to see happen next year.

Who: Dave Baldwin, Chair, Bradford Economic Partnership; Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader, Bradford Council; a senior Bradford police officer (TBC); Roger Thompson, Chair, Bradford Professionals’ Network; Marianne McCallum, Chair, Bradford Property Forum

What: The State of the District – Progress and Potential

When: 8am to 9.45am, Wednesday 4 December 2019

Where: The Hockney Room, Margaret McMillan Tower, Princes Way, Bradford BD1 1NN (the former Central Library)

Cost: £15 Chamber members or £30 non-members (includes VAT)

How to Book: email events@wnychamber.co.uk or phone 01274 206660

Parking: Sharpe Street (behind the National Science & Media Museum), Hall Ings NCP or The Broadway

Education secretary Gavin Williamson backs “excellent” Bradford Manufacturing Weeks initiative

Bradford Manufacturing Weeks

Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson CBE has praised Bradford Manufacturing Weeks as an “excellent” initiative.

Commenting as organisers confirm that more than double the number of manufacturers and schools are involved since the inaugural event in 2018, Mr Williamson said:

“Following on from last year’s success, I know Bradford Manufacturing Weeks can go from strength to strength, with more businesses and young people involved. 

“In my speech to Conservative conference earlier this month, I said how apprenticeships and technical and vocational education are just as important and as valuable as going to university and are just as important to our economy. They can make sure Britain succeeds in the future.

“And it is excellent projects like this that can show young people some of the exciting and valuable opportunities there and give them the belief that with the right help and support they can achieve anything they want.” 

Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is a West and North Yorkshire Chamber initiative, delivered by Bradford Chamber of Commerce. In the second week of its second year, the project is now on track for creating 6,000 work experiences with 65 manufacturers involved, which is double the number of 2018. Forty five secondary schools are also participating in this year’s scheme.

Local employers including Solenis, Acorn Stairlifts, Produmax, Keighley Laboratories and Melrose Interiors are facilitating work placements, school talks and site tours for 14-18-year-old school pupils. Backed by the Bradford Economic Partnership, the initiative is introducing the district’s manufacturers to young people to help boost apprenticeship numbers by creating more inspired, informed and ‘work ready’ applicants into the sector.

The calendar of school and manufacturer events which includes the district’s very first ‘Bradford Apprentices Live’ event and a ‘Driver Awareness Day’ in partnership with West Yorkshire Fire Service and West Yorkshire Police to encourage safe driving among young apprentices, is sponsored by Barclays, Naylor Wintersgill, Gordons LLP, Mitton Group, Dale Carnegie UK, E3 Recruitment, the University of Bradford and Leeds Bradford Airport.

Initiative founder and managing director of Bradford-based laundry detergent manufacturer Christeyns, Nick Garthwaite, said: “It’s fantastic to receive support from the Government which further demonstrates that we are on absolutely the right track with our Bradford Manufacturing Weeks initiative. We have created a model that is working and most importantly, a model which gives young people an insight into the wonderful world of manufacturing and in many cases, it is proving a game changer in their career decision making process.”

Nick added: “That said, businesses, education providers and the Government have a lot more work to do to promote the apprenticeship programmes to make them become an even more attractive option. This is why Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is such an important part of our district’s business calendar and why we intend to grow the participants, the experiences and the momentum in years to come.”

Students and businesses celebrate the start of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks

Bradford Manufacturing Weeks

More than 50 local students, businesses and dignitaries gathered in Bradford for a tour of a 38-acre manufacturing facility to kickstart a fortnight of events for Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2019.

Attendees at water solutions and chemical manufacturer, Solenis, included 12 students from three schools – Dixons Allerton Academy, Parkside School and Appleton Academy – alongside MP Judith Cummins and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Chair, Roger Marsh, OBE.

Organisers believe Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is set to provide almost 6,000 manufacturing experiences to pupils of 45 Bradford secondary schools and colleges in the district. More than 65 local manufacturers will facilitate work placements, school talks and site tours for 14-18-year-old school pupils. The initiative, led by Bradford Chamber and backed by the Bradford Economic Partnership, is introducing the district’s manufacturers to young people to help boost apprenticeship numbers by creating more inspired, informed and ‘work ready’ applicants into the sector.

During the launch event, attendees heard about the initiative from founder, Nick Garthwaite, as well as hearing about the Leeds City Region’s support for the district and Bradford Manufacturing Weeks from Roger Marsh.

Addressing the attendees, Roger Marsh said that Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the might of manufacturing in the district. He said: “Bradford has a lot to be proud of – we must be positive about what we have to offer. Through engaging young people manufacturers are thinking not only of their employees of today, but also considering their employees of tomorrow.”

Experiencing the vast manufacturing site for themselves, Parkside School student, Albert Lawler said: “I didn’t know what to expect and I have really enjoyed exploring Solenis. This experience has changed my outlook on manufacturing massively in a positive way.”

Dave Calder, site manager at Solenis, said: “We were delighted to host the launch of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2019. Having been involved last year, we recognise the importance of showcasing the opportunities available within manufacturing. Over the next two weeks we are offering work experience opportunities and site tours to schools. It’s an amazing initiative that brings together our manufacturing community to help potential future employees realise that there is a vast range of careers available.”

The calendar of school and manufacturer events is a West & North Yorkshire chamber initiative and is sponsored by Barclays, Naylor Wintersgill, Gordons LLP, Mitton Group, Dale Carnegie UK, E3 Recruitment, the University of Bradford and Leeds Bradford Airport.

Of supporting the weeks, Judith Cummins MP said: “I am proud to continue to support this initiative. Bradford Manufacturing Weeks has gone from strength to strength; now involving over 40 Bradford secondary schools and providing over 4000 manufacturing experiences for students. I know how much hard work has gone into organising these two weeks, and I want to congratulate the businesses, schools and students involved.”

Nick Garthwaite, founder of Bradford Manufacturing Weeks and managing director of international chemicals and detergents manufacturer Christeyns said: “It was fantastic to kick start the weeks at one of Bradford’s many magnificent manufacturing sites. It is thanks to employers like Solenis that we are on target to hit 6,000 experiences for young people this year, which is more than double what we achieved last year.”

He added: “I can’t wait to hear about the experiences and outcomes of the next two weeks – I hope Bradford’s manufacturers are ready for an influx of apprenticeship applications!”

Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2019 runs from the 7–18 October. For more information and to register for key events see the Bradford Manufacturing Weeks website and for regular updates follow @Bradfordmfg on Twitter.