A unique package of Covid-19 recovery support for local businesses and people will be delivered as part of an ambitious cross-border project involving Norfolk County Council and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.
The C-CARE (Covid Channel Area Response Exchange) initiative, funded by the Interreg France (Channel) England programme which has allocated €2.2m for C-CARE in Norfolk, is set to reach businesses and people hardest hit by the pandemic.
Drawing on a range of expertise from local government, enterprise and tourism in the UK and France, the project will support people at risk of exclusion from the labour market and businesses at risk of closure.
C-CARE aims to reach 4,500 people and almost 2,000 businesses through its pilot initiatives, which include skills training to help individuals find new routes into employment or starting a business, and advice and grants aimed at helping companies reset their business models in response to the pandemic.
In Norfolk, the project will support 610 individuals into employment or self-employment and provide support to 800 businesses. New Anglia LEP will also be supporting individuals and businesses in Suffolk.
It is hoped the insights and evidence gathered from both sides of the Channel will feed into local plans for Norfolk to aid recovery and resilience planning and ensure measures are in place to support businesses and people adapt to future pandemics or economic shocks.
The package of support covers four strands of activity:
- Respond, Reflect, Report will enable partners, stakeholders and other Channel projects to review initial Covid-response, gather good practice and bring together lessons learnt in order to shape a new package of Covid-19 response and recovery actions.
- C-CARE Support for Social Inclusion will deliver targeted support to more than 4,547 individuals to develop new skills and tools to help them into employment or start a business.
- C-CARE Support for Business Recovery will provide direct support to over 1,947 businesses via advice, vouchers and grants aimed at helping sectors hard-hit by the pandemic to develop new business models to respond market changes and ensure a green, inclusive and sustainable economic recovery.
- C-CARE Reset and Redesign will develop blueprints for future town centres to improve long-term prospects for businesses and work on new ways to tackle social exclusion.
The C-CARE initiative provides additional support to local businesses and people on top of Norfolk County Council’s existing support and assistance measures.
Cllr Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Growing the Economy, said: “We want to ensure that the people of Norfolk and our businesses have the best chance to recover from Covid-19, and that’s why we’re proud to be part of this unique partnership.
“We hope that the lessons learned will feed into our future plans for Norfolk, which are aimed at bringing growth and prosperity for the region.”
Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This programme will offer valuable support for the self-employed as they look to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Challenge Fund, which will support innovative ideas for our local towns as they adapt to our ‘new normal’, will make sure that we build places where resilient and dynamic businesses can flourish.”
The C-CARE project received €6.7million from the European Regional Development Fund via the Interreg France (Channel) England programme. The three-year project runs until June 2023.