COVID-19. A message from Launch It CEO, Pat Shelley
Updated: Oct 22
Launch It and our response to COVID-19
2020 has been a tough year for all and Coronavirus continues to impact many aspects of our lives. It has changed the way we work, with many getting used to remote working. At Launch It, the Covid-19 pandemic has stretched us and made us look at the way we deliver our services for the clients we work with.
During the lockdown, we were forced to close all of our Enterprise Centres and place our Enterprise Managers, who deliver our much needed business support services, on furlough. However we remained committed to providing the best possible support for our young people at the time they needed it most.
Myself and our volunteer co-ordinator Mike Turner, kept in touch with our clients on a regular basis and issued business bulletins on government support available approximately 2-3 times a week. We also carried out individual and group support meetings via Zoom. Our volunteer mentors also provided a lifeline during these difficult times, with many continuing to deliver their sessions online.
As we get used to using more online communication tools, we are now looking at how we can change our delivery model and will be piloting ways in which we can offer some of our business support via an online platform.
"We are seeing an increase in young people reaching out to us, wanting to start a business, with enquiries up by 50% compared with the same period in 2019. Perhaps this is due to the lack of alternative opportunities."
Our training programme with RPC is being delivered virtually which has worked well so far and enabled us to provide the opportunity for our clients across the UK. We are excited to have received support from the London Community Response Fund to look at developing different ways of working.
A key aspect of the support we provide is affordable workspace. We re-opened our centres in July and are pleased to report that 90% of our business owners were able to return. We are in a fortunate position in that we run mostly self-contained units rather than shared workspaces, so it has been easier for our clients to work safely. It has been a tough time for our young business owners; but we are consistently amazed at their creativity and innovation. Many have responded to the pandemic by altering their business model, embracing opportunities online, delivering services differently and opening new product lines.
We are constantly monitoring Government guidelines and advice as we embrace the new ‘normal’ and are in a good position to respond to any changes as and when required to do so.
The bigger question is where do we go from here. Inequality is likely to rise further still as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the most deprived individuals and communities disproportionately affected. Entrepreneurship opens up opportunity and career progression for young people. Currently, this is an area that is missing from recent government announcements on tackling youth unemployment.
We are seeing an increase in young people reaching out to us, wanting to start a business, with enquiries up by 50% compared with the same period in 2019. Perhaps this is due to the lack of alternative opportunities.
We hope that youth entrepreneurship will to be placed high on the government’s agenda as a route to addressing the impact of COVID-19 on young people's prospects in the UK.
Pat Shelley, Launch It CEO