Council grants aiming to build resilience among business community hit hardest by coronavirus pandemic


Businesses hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic are being boosted by a series of Council-funded grants which are bearing fruit this summer. 

Music and culture hub the Total Refreshment Centre was awarded more than £17,000 by Hackney Council to purchase the equipment required to produce video content and create an online streaming show showcasing artists they work with at their Foulden Road studio. 

Having this equipment permanently on site not only enables Total Refreshment Centre to adapt and grow their offer, but ensures that artists and creatives are better able to access high quality online video and sound production equipment in Hackney. The centre hopes to attract emerging local artists and musicians into the centre and support their journey into the industry.  

Alexis Blondel, manager at Total Refreshment Centre said: “Our business relies heavily on live concerts and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has seen ticket sales plummet over the last two years. Moving parts of our operations online is allowing us to promote our concerts in new ways as well as monetising our content.”

The project was funded through the Adapt Your Business Fund, one of three major schemes under the business grants programme, to ensure a fair recovery from the coronavirus pandemic for the borough’s businesses.

Alexis added: “Having worked locally in music for over 10 years, this new online platform is allowing us to showcase our work to a wider audience, thus creating new opportunities for concerts and events. Artists and local creatives will be able to use our equipment to create promotional videos with the assistance of our skilled studio managers. They will also be able to connect with a new group of cultural workers from our direct community.”

£1.6 million has been distributed directly to businesses across the borough to deliver projects that build resilience, support environmental improvements and encourage customers back to the high streets. 112 businesses have been funded by the Council to deliver exciting and innovative projects this year to support their journey post covid-19 and for many of them the community is the heart of their recovery.

Another successful bid for Council funding - in this case the Hackney High Streets and Town Centres Fund - has seen the creation of the Hackney Downs Business Network. The network is delivering business support packages and training alongside a promotional platform to increase local area prosperity and accessibility, combating inequality and digital exclusion.

While, thanks to the Hackney Central Impact and Ideas Fund, independent craft brewery Hackney Church Brew Co has purchased a canning machine, enabling them to produce on site and scale up their operation to drive growth. 

As well as funding going directly to businesses for projects, the Council has also partnered with experienced small business advice provider and investment network Newable to put on a series of Covid-19 recovery masterclasses through the Adapt your Business Programme. The latest masterclass in this series, “Evolve Your Business Model in Times of Change - Business Transformation Post COVID 19” took place in July. Sarah, who attended from Hackney business With Relish, said: “I’ve come away with another notebook filled with actionable ideas and feeling inspired.”