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New educational ‘Block Bus’ launched at Norwich Science Festival thanks to grant arranged by New Anglia Growth Hub

New educational ‘Block Bus’ launched at Norwich Science Festival thanks to grant arranged by New Anglia Growth Hub

Thanks to the support of one of New Anglia Growth Hub’s business advisers, owner Amy Eleftheriades was able to successfully apply for a grant of just over £5,000 from the Small Grant Scheme to help fund the purchase and equipping of the bus.

Alpha Inclusion was originally set up by Amy to provide educational services for children and young people dealing with autism and social communication difficulties in mainstream school environments and at home. Budget restrictions in the education sector mean there’s often insufficient funding and space to offer activities for children with these specific needs so Amy had the brainwave to create both the space and resource by purchasing a commercial vehicle and converting it into a mobile classroom.

Following a conversation with friends, Amy realised that the activities she used with the children could easily transfer to the world of business, specifically team-building events and communications training, so set about building her business proposition to be appeal to the corporate sector. Wanting to make the most of the opportunity to work with private companies, Amy was at first unsure about where to start so called New Anglia Growth Hub.

“I had built up some capital in the business and wanted to reinvest it in something that would give us the biggest payback. We soon worked out that the ‘Block Bus’, would be the best use of this capital. But buying a commercial vehicle and paying for a conversion comes with a hefty price tag and that is where the Growth Hub really helped me out with the grant funding”, she explained.

“Getting the Block Bus is a business-changing event”, continued Amy, “We now have the capacity to run sessions for children in schools where perhaps there hadn’t previously been the space or resource and can visit companies equipped to be able to deliver highly professional activities. All the equipment we use is in the bus so wherever we go we can operate to our full capability.”

Business adviser, Robert Turnbull, helped Amy to assess what the business needed and supported her throughout the grant application process.

Robert said, “Whilst Amy’s business had nearly enough capital to buy and convert the bus, it would mean that she wouldn’t be able to resource it immediately with the necessary equipment. The 20% part funding from the Small Grant Scheme was perfect. It meant that Amy could buy the necessary equipment to fully stock the bus immediately so that that it could start earning from day 1.”

Amy commented, “It was great to have Robert’s support at this stage of our development. He was quickly able to establish the issues we were facing and offer very practical solutions which weren’t just about funding. He has helped to facilitate some very valuable contacts for us and given us the confidence to approach the commercial sector.”

An important aspect of the Amy’s business model is that the commercial work she does with private businesses subsidises the work she does in the education sector, enabling her to do more than she would otherwise be able to do.

Anyone running a business who needs help to realise their growth plans should contact the New Anglia Growth Hub on 0300 333 6356 or email growthhub@newanglia.co.uk

Article by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce