Rising to the education challenge in the rustic Bradford District

By Zahir Irani

Launched in 2003, the London Challenge shook up the capital’s secondary education system, transforming the worst performing schools in the country into the best in Britain. During the eight-year programme, the Department for Education invested heavily in leadership to raise standards, narrow the attainment gap and create more, good and outstanding schools. By all accounts, it was an outstanding success, raising the outcomes and life opportunities for many students.

“London’s education system has had rocket-boosters under it… while some schools in the North are still fighting for scraps,” the Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield told The Yorkshire Post. She said the success of the government-funded “opportunity areas” pilot scheme in Bradford, Doncaster and the North Yorkshire coast should be replicated across the region in a “relentless push for a rebalancing, which identifies the gaps and what needs to happen to close them”.

We are deeply concerned that COVID-19 is widening these gaps. Pre-pandemic, Bradford has been getting good marks. In the three years since the launch of the Bradford opportunity area, children’s reading, writing and maths scores at primary school level have increased by 16 per cent above the national average. We now have 6,000 more students who attend a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ school as rated by Ofsted. We have created the equivalent of four employer encounters per secondary school pupil. Health teams are working with schools to improve maths and literacy through the “glasses in classes” project. And our schools have done some great work keeping children engaged during lockdown. Regional ambition doesn’t stop there: the University of Bradford is working to eliminate attainments gaps as part of its access and participation plan.

The scheme has some prominent business supporters. Will Richardson, senior partner at PwC in Leeds, said: “Extending the opportunity areas programme will undoubtedly help support the Government’s levelling up agenda and provide further foundation to ‘building back better’.” The professional services giant opened a new national assurance office in Bradford last year and is busy recruiting extra staff. This is proof that opportunity areas are having a wider impact.

Bradford won £1.7m in additional funding in July. This means we will be able to expand the opportunity area scheme from 14 to 19 schools, extend support for new and aspiring headteachers, widen the Bradford teacher recruitment and retention campaign, invest in maths tuition for year 11 pupils and increase support for parents of children with special needs. The extra funding is welcome of course, but we need more to do much more, especially to counter the impact of Covid-19. The council and charities like GiveBradford have been funding summer programmes and investing in IT equipment for young people, but more support is essential.

Anne-Marie Canning MBE, chair of the Bradford opportunity area, said: “Without a good education we are really losing the engine of social mobility and that is why education needs to be put as the top priority. It’s one of the great fallings of this current decade that children in the North aren’t getting a good enough shot at a decent life.” The Treasury is under incredible financial pressure at the moment as it looks for ways to pay for the pandemic, but we cannot afford to waste so much human potential and that requires a long-term commitment to Bradford, Yorkshire and the North. 

At the newly formed Bradford Economic Recovery Board, we are going to take a leading position on addressing this challenge. We need to connect and secure all residents with economic opportunity as this will provide every home with stability and ambition and raise aspirations and standards. We need to support businesses with access to talent and skills for jobs that exist now and, for those of the future in new and existing industries for the region to prosper where we can all be proud of the economic and social value created.

This pipeline starts in schools. Our curriculum needs to be fresh, relevant and stimulating. It needs to be future proof and equip young people with skills in emerging sectors. We must motivate and reward our teachers and make sure they are representative of our region and communities through being role models and motivators. And we need to support our leaders running our large and complex educational institutions to better manage increasingly scarce resources.

All these actions will help lift our education system and with it the prospects and ambitions of all the young people living in Bradford, many of whom will be among the hardest hit by the pandemic. London had the chance to change its worst-performing schools for the better. So should we, now.

• Professor Zahir Irani is Chairman of the Bradford Council Economic Recovery Board and Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Bradford. He Tweets at: @ZahirIrani1

Bradford Economic Recovery Board

Professor Zahir Irani

By Zahir Irani

Visiting NASA at Cape Canaveral in 1962, John F Kennedy spotted a janitor carrying a broom. He walked up and asked the man what he was doing. “Mr President,” came the reply. “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” The apocryphal tale is one of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s favourite stories. He said: “Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for.”

That’s a message I want to get across as Chairman of the Bradford Economic Recovery Board, a new group bringing together organisations representing the public, private and cultural sectors in our district. We want everyone in Bradford to understand how they can support the recovery, whether they are learning skills as students, paying taxes as employees, creating jobs as entrepreneurs or providing vital public services that we all depend on. Everyone has a part to play.

First, a few words on my background. I was born and raised in Bolton. My mother was a nurse at the Royal Infirmary and my father a pattern maker at a foundry. After starting out as a graduate engineer in an old mill in the town, I entered academia and have enjoyed a career combining wide-ranging research interests, consulting work for industry and overseas governments and senior management roles including head of an award-winning business school.

During the coalition Government, I was seconded to the Cabinet Office and served as a senior policy advisor. It gave me invaluable insights into the working of the government machine that we know as Whitehall. I intend to put all these experiences to good use in my new role and to serve Bradford and its people.

I have spent most of my working life in London but returned to the North in 2016 to become founding dean at the University of Bradford’s faculty of management, law and social sciences. Last year, I was appointed Pro-Vice Chancellor with responsibility for academic, innovation and quality.

The university is a vital institution for our city and helps thousands of young people to raise their aspirations and follow their dreams, creating social and economic value for the district. I am part of a great team led by Vice-Chancellor Professor Shirley Congdon and we are proud to be The Times and Sunday Times University of the Year for Social Inclusion. Something that unites us all.

The initial task at hand for the recovery board will be to stress-test the district’s economic strategy in light of the pandemic. We will develop a plan by the end of this year that will help businesses grow, retrain unemployed people and attract investment in infrastructure. The Covid crisis has hit Bradford hard and many businesses are suffering as a result, which is difficult for our district but other companies will sense growth potential and look for help and support. We will do everything possible to work with businesses and help them grow and create regional employment opportunities.

The £1.8bn devolution deal for West Yorkshire is a big opportunity for Bradford and will give our region more control over spending decisions on transport, housing, job creation, flood defences and other areas that affect our economy. We are working with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority on its wider economic strategy to deliver high levels of prosperity, jobs and quality of life for everyone in the region.

The big shifts we are seeing in the structure of our economy will spur the development of new products and services. I am certain the rise in unemployment will trigger a rise in self-employment. As a location for new businesses, we have many advantages. Startups in Bradford enjoy lower office costs and faster download speeds than their counterparts in London, according to Startups Geek, the online magazine for creative industries and freelancers, and they have better survival rates. Who knows what new ideas will develop and companies form from this post-Covid world?

No-one is underestimating the scale of the challenge we face as a district. That’s why we want everyone in the district to understand how they can support the recovery, from our primary schools to our plcs. The story of the janitor and JFK has endured because it perfectly encapsulates the unity of purpose essential in humankind’s most successful endeavours. You have to shoot for the moon. • Professor Zahir Irani is Chairman of the Bradford Economic Recovery Board and Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Bradford. He Tweets at: @ZahirIrani1

Final Yorkshire Post article by Dave Baldwin

By Dave Baldwin

Minimum requirement, maximum effort. As chairman, that was my message at the launch of Bradford’s economic growth strategy three years ago. I can safely say that requirement has been met, exceeded even. I think we all knew there would be challenges ahead. But I don’t think anyone expected a pandemic.

Minimum requirement, maximum effort. As chairman, that was my message at the launch of Bradford’s economic growth strategy three years ago. I can safely say that requirement has been met, exceeded even. I think we all knew there would be challenges ahead. But I don’t think anyone expected a pandemic.

Covid-19 doesn’t really diminish our strengths. The strategy identified four key opportunities for Bradford: our young and enterprising population, distinctive offer with unique architecture, heritage and cultural assets, growth potential and global connections. Our work also recognised that promoting closer partnerships between the public and private sector would help to improve opportunities for young people in the district. No changes there.

Before the onset of coronavirus, we were making strong progress against our goals. In the year after launch, the district recorded 4,100 new companies, 6,500 new private sector jobs, growth in weekly workplace earnings and a boost in the number of women from minority backgrounds in employment. That’s some achievement and shows what we can do when everyone’s noses are pointing in the same direction.

That’s one of my mantras. In any organisation, everyone has to understand the big picture and the part they play, whoever they are and whatever walk of life they come from. It is no secret, but it works wonders and these partnerships always pay off. We are an enterprising bunch in Bradford and I am hopeful we will see a stronger than expected recovery. Indeed, research from the University of Bradford has highlighted how a significant minority of companies has reported a positive impact from the pandemic. 

Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is the living embodiment of what can be achieved when there is this unity of purpose. The showcase for schools was initiated by Nick Garthwaite, then Bradford Chamber president, and wholeheartedly supported across our district. This year, it must take place online for obvious reasons but nonetheless I am confident we will inspire thousands more students to consider the wonderful world of industry as a career option.

Another cause I pushed was for ‘Bradvocates’: champions who will fly the flag for our district, near and far, Bradfordians like BBC presenter Anita Rani, pop idol Zayn Malik, cricketer Jonny Bairstow or thriller writer AA Dhand. There are plenty out there and we urge them all to make themselves heard. (I don’t think Bad Boy Chiller Crew, the breakout comedy-rap stars, need much encouragement on that front!)

Our young people need positive role models in business. If you can see it, you can be it. That certainly worked in my case. As a Bradford lad, I remember a former pupil visiting our comprehensive school and telling our class how aspiration and hard work had set him up for a great career. The nice suit and green Jaguar XJS parked outside the school gates caught my eye. If he could do it, why couldn’t I? The seed was planted for my future career as an entrepreneur. Employers should engage with schools if they haven’t already.

You might be wondering at the retrospective nature of this column. In fact, it is my last as chairman of the Bradford Economic Partnership, our team of organisations including Bradford BID, Bradford Chamber of Commerce, Bradford Council, the University of Bradford and West Yorkshire Combined Authority. After three years in the role, I have decided with a heavy heart to stand down and focus on new challenges. I joined the board in summer 2017 with the goal of making Bradford a better place for everyone who lives and works in the district. I would like to thank my colleagues for giving maximum effort to our cause.

I will sign off with another of my mantras. Do you know how to eat an elephant? Go on, I hear you say. One bite at a time. That’s how. Substitute the elephant for any seemingly insurmountable challenge that needs to be overcome. Remember that. One bite at a time.

• Dave Baldwin was chairman of the Bradford Economic Partnership and is the new chief executive of the English Football League

Covid-19 doesn’t really diminish our strengths. The strategy identified four key opportunities for Bradford: our young and enterprising population, distinctive offer with unique architecture, heritage and cultural assets, growth potential and global connections. Our work also recognised that promoting closer partnerships between the public and private sector would help to improve opportunities for young people in the district. No changes there.

Before the onset of coronavirus, we were making strong progress against our goals. In the year after launch, the district recorded 4,100 new companies, 6,500 new private sector jobs, growth in weekly workplace earnings and a boost in the number of women from minority backgrounds in employment. That’s some achievement and shows what we can do when everyone’s noses are pointing in the same direction.

That’s one of my mantras. In any organisation, everyone has to understand the big picture and the part they play, whoever they are and whatever walk of life they come from. It is no secret, but it works wonders and these partnerships always pay off. We are an enterprising bunch in Bradford and I am hopeful we will see a stronger than expected recovery. Indeed, research from the University of Bradford has highlighted how a significant minority of companies has reported a positive impact from the pandemic. 

Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is the living embodiment of what can be achieved when there is this unity of purpose. The showcase for schools was initiated by Nick Garthwaite, then Bradford Chamber president, and wholeheartedly supported across our district. This year, it must take place online for obvious reasons but nonetheless I am confident we will inspire thousands more students to consider the wonderful world of industry as a career option.

Another cause I pushed was for ‘Bradvocates’: champions who will fly the flag for our district, near and far, Bradfordians like BBC presenter Anita Rani, pop idol Zayn Malik, cricketer Jonny Bairstow or thriller writer AA Dhand. There are plenty out there and we urge them all to make themselves heard. (I don’t think Bad Boy Chiller Crew, the breakout comedy-rap stars, need much encouragement on that front!)

Our young people need positive role models in business. If you can see it, you can be it. That certainly worked in my case. As a Bradford lad, I remember a former pupil visiting our comprehensive school and telling our class how aspiration and hard work had set him up for a great career. The nice suit and green Jaguar XJS parked outside the school gates caught my eye. If he could do it, why couldn’t I? The seed was planted for my future career as an entrepreneur. Employers should engage with schools if they haven’t already.

You might be wondering at the retrospective nature of this column. In fact, it is my last as chairman of the Bradford Economic Partnership, our team of organisations including Bradford BID, Bradford Chamber of Commerce, Bradford Council, the University of Bradford and West Yorkshire Combined Authority. After three years in the role, I have decided with a heavy heart to stand down and focus on new challenges. I joined the board in summer 2017 with the goal of making Bradford a better place for everyone who lives and works in the district. I would like to thank my colleagues for giving maximum effort to our cause.

I will sign off with another of my mantras. Do you know how to eat an elephant? Go on, I hear you say. One bite at a time. That’s how. Substitute the elephant for any seemingly insurmountable challenge that needs to be overcome. Remember that. One bite at a time.

• Dave Baldwin was chairman of the Bradford Economic Partnership and is the new chief executive of the English Football League

Impact of Coronavirus on businesses

City Park Mirror Pool

By Dave Baldwin

If you’re keeping up with the business news, you don’t have to look very far to find stories of economic distress. Given the Government effectively closed down the economy to stem the spread of coronavirus, the consequences could only be devastating for many businesses and households.

But I am an optimist by nature and an entrepreneur by background. However hard life can be, there is always hope and usually an angle. Ongoing research from the University of Bradford should give us good reason to believe the turnaround is not far off and with it the beginnings of a recovery in the fortunes of our district.

The major project by the university’s well-regarded School of Management shows that one in five firms taking part in focus groups have reported a positive impact on their business from the pandemic. Initial findings from the study of 600-plus companies show how the widespread disruption has forced companies to fundamentally reconsider how they operate.

Such soul-searching rarely takes place in fair weather. Violent upheavals on the other hand force us all to stop and question what is important in our lives. The research shows Covid-19 is spurring many companies on to change for the better, according to Professor Sankar Sivarajah, Head of School of Management.

While smaller firms were typically unprepared for such a crisis – who was? – they are proving sufficiently agile to adapt to changing circumstances. In fact, smaller firms often fare better than their larger counterparts in this respect. No lumbering giants, they can quickly and decisively pivot their business models to suit market needs.

Digital transformation is accelerating across the board. Companies which previously saw no need for e-commerce operations have set up online offerings for their goods and services, taking advantage of the low-cost and readily available technologies. Firms are streamlining their businesses and focusing on absolute priorities.

In Bradford, restaurants are now repositioning themselves as takeaways and using third-party platforms to reach new customers. High street accountants are jettisoning old bookkeeping habits and moving filing systems from cardboard to the cloud.

Productivity, long a bugbear for the UK economy, is actually improving in some cases, according to the School of Management study. Working from home – or living at work as it feels for some – has many benefits. Workers are finding themselves judged on output instead of simply being present in an office all day. They are repaying this new trust with extra commitment.

The enforced changes to working life are likely to prompt radical rethinking in the way we use city centre space. As has been identified by the council, Bradford city centre offers a major “northshoring” opportunity as corporates restructure and look to move expensive operations out of London and the South East. With its magnificent architecture and fine legacy of heritage buildings, Bradford also offers massive potential for imaginative new co-working space.

None of this should downplay the enormous challenges faced by businesses and households as a result of this terrible virus. Of course, for the one in five firms which have reported a positive impact, there is the vast majority which have seen the exact opposite and are shedding jobs as sales fall off the proverbial cliff.

A large number of firms will fail, typically the ones that cannot change direction. That’s capitalism, red in tooth and claw. But the ones that survive and thrive will be the ones that grow, take on new recruits, require space and invest in skills and training. They will form the foundation of our recovery.

We know Bradford has a longstanding and proud tradition of enterprise. Our diverse communities are culturally inclined towards entrepreneurialism. Indeed, we have the highest density of companies per sq km of any major UK city outside London. Make no mistake, these are tough times. But Bradford’s businesses will be at the forefront as Britain bounces back.

50 years of Airedale Hospital

Airedale Hospital trainees

By Dave Baldwin

It was 50 years ago that a very youthful Prince of Wales officially opened Airedale Hospital. The young Charles, then 22, spent so long doing the ward rounds and chatting with staff and patients that his visit overran. His wife Diana, the Princess of Wales, was equally enthusiastic when she visited in 1989 to launch the newly extended child development centre. Proud memories for a proud institution.

In its first year of operation, the Steeton-based hospital admitted 10,000 patients, treated 25,000 accident cases, saw 40,000 outpatients and delivered 1,500 babies. Half a century on, Airedale admitted 26,000 patients, treated 70,000 emergency department cases, saw 155,000 outpatients and delivered 2,000 babies. That shows you just how much the health service and our population has changed over the decades.

Airedale is one of the Bradford district’s biggest employers with 2,500 staff and 350 volunteers. It occupies a special place in our daily lives, supporting not only our health and wellbeing in times of need but also our wider economy with an annual operating budget of £185m.

In a King’s Fund report on the economic influence of the NHS at a local level, senior policy analyst David Maguire said: “The NHS is often talked about as the biggest employer in England, but thinking at this scale can overlook the local importance of the NHS in areas with higher levels of deprivation. In these areas the NHS is a key employer, providing good terms and conditions and opportunities for high-quality, professional work, and contributing to the local economy by investing in the region and in training and education for staff.”

Airedale is running a course with Keighley College for apprentice healthcare support workers. Launched in 2017, the programme is creating meaningful employment opportunities for young people at the hospital. To date, three cohorts of students have completed the 12-month programme and are working in clinical areas.

Sound financial management is at the heart of every successful organisation. Last year the trust achieved a surplus and had healthy cash reserves at the bank, which no doubt helped it step up and play an important wider role when the pandemic hit Yorkshire.

Airedale supplied facilities management services to NHS Nightingale Yorkshire and the Humber hospital at Harrogate via its wholly-owned subsidiary AGH Solutions. AGHS is highly regarded for its procurement expertise and ensured the trust had sufficient personal protective equipment in the first wave of the coronavirus.

The hospital has created a significant number of new ancillary jobs for local people, many of whom have seen their jobs disappear in the service sectors. Airedale needs people to feed its teams, get food to patients, work with cleaners and help staff where they need it most. These all add up and Airedale can be proud of its contribution to date in the national effort to combat this terrible virus.

Surprisingly perhaps for a 50-year-old (!) the institution is at the forefront of technology and innovation. Airedale consultants have worked with patients to pioneer digital health services to support independent living in the community under the watchful eye of clinicians. Last year, the hospital had 26,000 telemedicine contacts, illustrating the scale of its operations in this exciting emerging field.

Technologies tried and tested at Airedale have the potential to address some of the biggest challenges facing our NHS. The hospital’s digital care hub provides round-the-clock support to 500 care homes, more than 2,000 end-of-life patients, 30 prisons and thousands of patients living with long-term conditions in their own homes. This approach to healthcare is the future and Airedale is at the cutting edge.

Brendan Brown, chief executive at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As a small district general hospital and community trust, we have always punched above our weight.  We are agile, able to change swiftly and adjust to new demands on our services. This has never more shown itself to be true than in recent months.

“We are hugely appreciative of the support and trust we receive from local people and I hope that we honour that trust in the compassionate care we provide. I am too enormously proud of our staff and volunteers who continue to go above and beyond, never more so than now as we face these unprecedented challenges together.”

All that remains for me to write is to wish Airedale a very happy birthday… and many happy returns.

Expert manufacturing with a social conscience – Bradford at its best

By Dave Baldwin

Spread Love Not Germs. In an era of soundbites, that’s a good one. The message is adorned across a lockdown-inspired antibacterial cleanser spray made in Bradford. Astonish, the cleaning products manufacturer, is producing 250,000 of the rainbow-coloured bottles for sale across the UK, with all proceeds going to NHS Charities Together. It’s a fine cause and shows Bradford at its best: expert manufacturing with a social conscience.

The second generation family-owned company is playing an important role in helping Britain through the Covid crisis. As well as producing millions of cleaning products every week to help prevent transmission of the virus, Astonish has also been supporting our heroic health and care staff.

Howard Moss, managing director, said: “Since the start of this pandemic we have been doing what we can to help frontline workers. We started by donating Astonish Essential Packs to Bradford Royal Infirmary and St James’s Hospital in Leeds. But we didn’t just want to stop there, we wanted to do more.”

Hence the new product, designed by customer Lauren Lynch and available nationwide at retailers including Asda, Wilko, B&M, Savers and The Range. Buy a bottle if you can and back a brilliant cause: NHS Charities Together is helping NHS staff and volunteers caring for Covid patients. Spread Love Not Germs – it’s an important message for our times.

Founded by Alan Moss in 1969, Astonish has built up a loyal customer base for its pioneering use of cruelty-free ingredients in household cleaning products. It is reckoned to be the only UK-made brand approved by Cruelty Free International, The Vegan Society and The Vegetarian Society. It clearly pays to be “squeaky clean”: sales are forecast to hit £27m this year.

The company is one of 1,200 manufacturers based in the Bradford district. We are lucky to be blessed such with a strong industrial base, a legacy from our heritage as the capital of the world’s wool trade. It is one of the foundations of our £10bn economy and will be a driving force in creating new employment and tax revenues as Britain recovers from the shock of the lockdown.

The sector is hungry for talent: a quick glance at one of the world’s biggest job websites reveals 45-plus pages of new manufacturing roles in Bradford. This is precisely why Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is so important and is rightly going ahead this year – from October 5-16 –  with support from sponsors Barclays, E3 Recruitment, Naylor Wintersgill, Gordons, Bradford Council and the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Nick Garthwaite, chair of the chamber and managing director of Bradford-based manufacturer Christeyns, said: “Following online meetings with teachers across the district and correspondence with manufacturers, we know there is appetite for Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2020. Schools in particular have expressed a real desire to give students the opportunity to once again learn more about our wonderful world of manufacturing.

“While the fortnight will run outside our normal methods of delivery with no physical meetings, networking or factory visits, we believe we can still make an engaging, educational and informative experience of the district’s young people.”

Activities include a design competition with £500 prize to create a sanitation station for students, virtual tours of local manufacturing facilities, question and answer sessions with local manufacturers, online Barclays Life Skills sessions covering CV writing and interview guidance and a panel debate with local apprentices talking about their roles.

Hopefully the events will dispel the notion that manufacturing is just for young men. There are as many opportunities for young women: just ask rising stars like Alex Johnson, an engineering apprenticeship at aerospace supplier Produmax.

Mr Garthwaite added: “Despite the challenges of this year, it is so important that we stimulate our young people. They have had a tough time recently with not being at school and there is some talk of this being ‘the Covid-19 lost generation’ with learning disrupted, exams untaken and work experiences not had.

“I believe that Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2020 will support and encourage our district’s young people to see the future opportunities within Bradford manufacturers and in turn ensure our sector is robust and has longevity with a pipeline of talented young people for generations to come.”

To find out more, please visit the Bradford Manufacturing Weeks website and see Bradford at its best: expert manufacturing with a social conscience.

Inspirational companies that have helped keep Bradford District going

Bradford City Park

By Dave Baldwin

Whether you’re partial to a pint of Landlord or not, the news that Timothy Taylor is brewing again will provide some cheer that Bradford, and Britain, is getting back to business. It’s what we do best and, after the peak of the pandemic, it’s a welcome relief that companies are finding ways to safely resume operations. I’ll raise a glass to that.

The historic Keighley company halted production of its famous cask ale when lockdown took effect on March 23. But weekly bottled sales more than doubled during the period, according to the family-owned brewery, as beer lovers embraced the new normal. (ONS said UK off-licences saw a 31 per cent rise in volumes in a month.)

Taylor’s thanked its bottling partner Hall & Woodhouse for pulling out the stops to help meet demand. It’s a reminder of the importance of supply chains in helping our economy rebuild after this crisis. Many of our businesses are part of international systems and their global customers can take confidence in the response of Bradford companies like Luxury Fabrics.

Based at Stanley Mills, the textiles manufacturer managed to safely weave its worsted and woollen cloth throughout the lockdown and has continued to dispatch orders. It is starting to see the green shoots of recovery as new enquiries come in from clients in Asia and Europe. “We are fortunate to have a loyal customer base and look forward to working with them as soon as possible,” the company told Drapers.

Morrisons has won praise for its efforts to support its UK supply chain. The Bradford-based grocer has extended its immediate payment policy to smaller suppliers for a further three months. The policy covers around 3,000 small suppliers, including 1,750 farmers. The large supermarket groups have previously faced criticism for their treatment of suppliers so this is a welcome move.

David Potts, chief executive, said: “Small foodmakers and farmers have helped us to play our full part in feeding the nation. They have told us they face continued financial pressure and we want to be there for them during this challenging period.” Morrisons introduced the measures in March. They run until September.

Bradford companies are helping to provide safe environments for people to return to work as the lockdown lifts. Mansfield Pollard, a designer and manufacturer of air management systems, is launching a range of air sterilisation units which kill airborne bacteria and viruses to help support the economic recovery of the UK. 

Lou Frankland, managing director, said: “This technology has been proven to destroy bacteria and viruses, including coronaviruses, bringing huge benefits for the healthcare sector, which is initially our primary focus.”

She added: “But because of its flexibility and mobility, the UV air sterilisation units have the potential to be introduced within a range of working, educational and leisure environments. With this in mind, we are ready to quickly and safely upscale our production to satisfy the demand we expect to see.”

It’s inspiring to see a new wave of entrepreneurs emerging from this crisis. Bradford teenager Harvey Ryder, 18, is using a 3D printer bought as a birthday present to produce vital personal protective equipment for local hospitals, GP practices, pharmacies and care homes. The former Hanson Academy student and his friends have produced 1,500 visors to date.

Sandy Needham, chief executive of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, said: “Harvey is a wonderful example of a new generation of designers, engineers and manufacturers who embrace today’s digital technology to innovate, produce and supply resources which are vital to the functionality of our region and the country.”

The crisis might be keeping us physically distant, but it is bringing us closer together in other ways. Independent retailers and makers have come together to sell their wares at the virtual Bradford Street Market, a growing Facebook group conceived by Catherine Simes, author of the blog You Can Take the Girl Out of Bradford.

She said: “We wanted to create an online indie quarter to promote the best of Bradford’s independent businesses and an online community-marketplace for them to benefit from a shared online presence and customer base. I really hope that support will continue after the lockdown and that people will appreciate the value of keeping money in the local economy.”

Taken together, you can see that small, medium and large companies are doing their best to support Bradford and Britain as we come out of this crisis. I will leave the last word to Hafsah Syeed, the 20-year-old entrepreneur behind DU’AAA Ltd, which designs and makes affordable modest wear. Speaking about the Bradford business community, she said: “You realise how lucky you are when you’re in Bradford. I love they’ve all got that drive and motivation. They’re not letting anything stop them.”

Bradford Institute for Health Research

By Dave Baldwin

Fifteen years ago, Bradford NHS had just three researchers. Today, it has more than 200 based at the world-beating Bradford Institute for Health Research and working to improve the lives of people across the district. Bradford’s growing reputation for expertise in health research has helped win multi-million pound funding for a new centre for cutting-edge trials, including potential treatments for coronavirus.

The Bradford Patient Recruitment Centre, the only one to be set up in Yorkshire, will enable local patients to take part in late-phase clinical research funded by the life sciences industry and access new drugs for various chronic conditions before they become widely available within the NHS. The Bradford Institute for Health Research, founded in 2007 by the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is running the new centre.

Professor John Wright, director of research at the institute, said the funding announcement was the “culmination of a remarkable journey” in Bradford, which is already home to one of the largest research studies in the world, tracking the lives of 30,000 people born in the district between 2007 and 2010 to better understand the influences on health and wellbeing in families. Prof Wright said the Born in Bradford project will provide important biomedical evidence to the new centre.

“The new facility will be one of the top five centres for clinical trials in the UK,” he told The Yorkshire Post. “It will enable enduring relationships with leading global bioscience companies and ensure inward investment and support economic growth, as well as more importantly allow local patients to access the most cutting-edge drugs.”

Bradford is becoming known as the ‘City of Research’, according to Dr Dinesh Saralya, a consultant respiratory physician and the director of the new centre. Bradford emerged from a shortlist of 35 trusts to win a share of £7m public funding for the project. The money was made available as part of the Government’s strategy to strengthen the UK’s life sciences industry through large-scale trials and is a powerful vote of confidence in Bradford’s progress as a nationally renowned research centre.

Mel Pickup, chief executive of the NHS foundation trust, said: “In these most difficult of times, the race to create effective treatments for Covid-19 is of critical national importance. I am delighted that Bradford Teaching Hospitals will be making a significant contribution to that and that the people of Bradford and the wider region will have the opportunity to be a part of it.”

There are many fine public and private sector endeavours taking place across Bradford during this pandemic. I will be sharing some of these stories over the coming months to remind readers that we are making progress. One particular initiative from the University of Bradford stood out for me this week. It comes from the Centre for Applied Dementia Studies and gives a voice to people living with the syndrome during the lockdown.

The centre has been publishing first-person perspectives of sufferers and their carers in this period of enforced social isolation. The moving accounts have been viewed more than 2,500 times in one month alone. “In times of crisis, people seek personal connections,” said Dr Ana Barbosa, a dementia expert at the university.

For the person writing the blog, it helps them express themselves, connect with others, reduce feelings of isolation and improve wellbeing. For the person reading the blog, it increases knowledge and awareness of dementia and encourages them to identify with the writer. “It helps people to feel they are not alone,” added Dr Barbosa.

The centre is world renowned for its pioneering work in developing the person-centred and mapping approach to dementia care, led by the late Professor Thomas Kitwood and now widely used across the UK. Its latest work highlighting the human stories of the lockdown is to be applauded, offering hope and comfort to sufferers and their families.

For everybody, staying in touch is so important. Sharing positive and inspiring news keeps our spirits up. Over on social media, we urge Bradford-based businesses to spread the word about the good things happening in our district, using the hashtag #TogetherBradfordCan. Regular readers will recall one of my favourite sayings in business: if we can get everyone’s noses pointing the same direction, we can achieve anything. Who knows… we might even find a cure for Covid-19.

• Dave Baldwin is chairman of Bradford Economic Partnership

Coronavirus information in the Bradford District

Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic change to all of our lives. We currently do not have the capacity to keep this website updated but here are some of the resources available to local businesses and people of the Bradford District.

Support for local businesses

Bradford Council is providing support for local businesses through the crisis. The council’s website includes information and support for businesses.

The council is also sending regular coronavirus email updates for businesses, providing the latest information about support available.

Invest in Bradford is also providing guidance to business.

Visit Bradford later

Visit Bradford has produced a local guide to enjoying days in and is offering people plenty of reasons to #VisitBradfordLater.

Bradford’s weekly online market

The new Bradford Street Market is an online market for Bradford’s independent retailers and makers to share their wares during the lockdown. Independent businesses, makers and artists come together on Facebook every Thursday in “an online indie quarter to promote the best of Bradford.”