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UK small businesses join national effort to support NHS workers

Small business owners are used to tackling the unexpected, but Coronavirus has presented start-ups across the UK with a challenge on a scale they could never have planned for.

Shops closing, customers in lockdown and furloughing staff are among the many threats business owners are currently facing just to keep their companies afloat.

But despite challenges, many small business owners are still making sacrifices to support NHS frontline workers.

Lauren and Mark Taylor, the co-founders of Kokoso Baby Skincare, a natural baby-care brand set up in 2014 with the help of an £10,000 Start-Up Loan, are among those who have adapted their business to help frontline staff.

After launching their new baby lotion during the pandemic and realising it doubled as a moisturising hand cream, husband and wife duo Lauren and Mark decided to offer a ‘buy one, gift one’ initiative. For every purchase made on their website, they sent NHS frontline workers a bottle free of charge to soothe their hands after regular washing.

Determined to do even more to help, the pair went on to purchase respirator face masks from one of their partner suppliers. As well as selling these on their website to boost the business, Lauren and Mark have also donated hundreds to charities working with vulnerable members of the community.

“Schools shutting has added enormous pressure to the business, but we are incredibly grateful that our products are still in demand. We wanted to give back to those less fortunate than ourselves in any way we could think of and are amazed at the positive response so far,” Lauren said.

Another business owner adapting their services is Lori Fitzgerald, founder of The Therapy Den, a psychotherapy and women’s counselling service set up in 2010 with the help of a £5,000 Start-Up Loan.

After witnessing heightened anxiety as a result of the pandemic among her clients, Lori was conscious of the psychological burden on NHS frontline workers and decided to offer them online therapy sessions, free of charge.

“I wanted to give back to those selflessly risking their lives during these difficult times. Knowing I’ve been able to help frontline workers cope with the psychological burden they’re carrying as a result of the pandemic has made a real difference to my outlook on the business.”, she said.

Richard Bearman, the Managing Director of Start Up Loans, said: “During these unprecedented times we are conscious that small business owners across the UK are struggling and having to adapt quickly. To see such selflessness and ingenuity from those helping frontline staff when they’re facing significant challenges themselves is incredibly humbling. We urge everyone to support small businesses, as their contribution to our society becomes more important than ever.”

Start Up Loans is continuing to provide support to business owners through its network of delivery partners. Second loans are also still available for those needing financial assistance to help them get through this very difficult economic period.

It has also published a series of guides on important areas of business including social media, marketing and SEO. The guides are designed to ensure business owners, existing and new, have all the resources they need to build and grow a successful business.

Start Up Loans was established in 2012 to help people – wherever they are in the UK and whatever their background – to achieve their ambitions of starting their own business.

It provides fixed-interest loans of between £500 and £25,000 to aspiring business owners, many of whom might otherwise struggle to secure finance.