Come to our Sandwell ‘meet the buyer’ networking events

Sandwell Council has partnered with Constructing West Midlands and the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust to host two ‘meet the buyer’ networking events in March.

The first meet the buyer event takes place on Wednesday 6 March. This is followed by the second event on Tuesday 19 March. Both events are being held at West Bromwich Albion Football Club.

Wednesday 6 March: Constructing West Midlands

The first event offers the opportunity to connect with top contractors and construction industry decision-makers. You can talk to representatives from local authorities and housing associations, as well as contractors from the Constructing West Midlands framework:

  • Galliford Try
  • GF Tomlinson
  • Interclass
  • ISG
  • Morgan Sindall
  • Seddon
  • Spellar Metcalfe
  • Willmott Dixon.

There will be presentations on opportunities stemming from major projects – including in Sandwell’s Regeneration Pipeline.

Attendees will also be able to hear presentations on where to find business opportunities and how to register for them. As well as the benefits of community wealth building, social value and sustainability, plus tender-writing tips.

For more information about Constructing West Midlands visit the website.

Tuesday 19 March: Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust

At the second meet the buyer event on Tuesday 19 March you can talk to procurement representatives from the NHS, local authorities, housing associations and more.

The event will focus on upcoming opportunities such as the Learning Campus in Smethwick and other major projects. During the day you will have the opportunity to talk to buyers and procurement teams. 

After the presentations you can also network over lunch with other Sandwell business people.

For more information about Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS visit the website.

More information about both events

At both events you will have the opportunity to meet exhibitors to talk about:

  • Recruitment and training with the Think Sandwell employment and skills team
  • Business opportunities from Find It In The Black Country
  • Digital inclusion
  • Inclusion and ‘giving back’ with the Care Leaver Covenant
  • Shaping the workforce of the future
  • The green agenda and net zero support.

Why are we holding these events?

When Sandwell businesses thrive, they create jobs, raise aspirations, boost skills and generate wealth for our local economy. You’re Sandwell’s lifeblood – and so we want to champion your business at every stage. Getting you face to face with influential buyers and decision makers is just one of our many ways to help.

Clean Futures Catalyst launch at STEAMhouse

The Clean Futures Catalyst launch is on Wednesday 28 February in Birmingham. The programme aims to put the West Midlands at the forefront of cleantech transportation innovation and manufacturing.

This half-day event at STEAMhouse in Birmingham will feature speakers from:

  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Great British Railways Transition Team
  • West Midlands Combined Authority
  • Transport for West Midlands.

Experts in transport research and development and electrification skills from Coventry University will also be there.

You can network with funders and development organisations, and engage in a panel Q&A session.

The West Midlands has a rich heritage in transport, development and manufacturing. As our region transitions away from fossil fuels towards cleantech, it is important we sustain economic growth. The Clean Futures Catalyst will help businesses in the transport sector to transition to net zero – whilst increasing their capacity for growth.

The event is an opportunity to meet with industry experts and similar businesses who operate in the transport supply chains.

Register now to find out how the Clean Futures Catalyst can help your business.

Social Enterprise Boost Fund from Access to Business

Access to Business is working with iSE to deliver the West Midlands Social Enterprise Boost Fund in Wolverhampton and Sandwell. This initiative aims to kick start and accelerate social enterprise activity across the region.

The SEB Fund runs until March 2025 and offers a range of grants and targeted business support. Its aim is to help new and existing social enterprises start up, scale up and grow. Organisers will also collect and share evidence on the impact of social enterprises on communities in the local area.

Are you eligible for a Social Enterprise Boost?

You need to be a Wolverhampton or Sandwell resident to apply to the Social Enterprise Boost Fund. You have to be thinking about starting a business, or have an existing business that is less than five years old, with an annual turnover under £250K. 

Your business doesn’t have to be officially registered as a community interest company (CIC) for you to apply to the fund. A wide variety of social businesses are eligible.

What does the fund offer?

New social entrepreneurs can attend a series of FUSE Start Up courses over the next two years, plus CIC Start sessions to help you register your new enterprise. Owners of more established businesses can attend a series of social enterprise MOT programmes. These cover topics such as contract readiness, social impact and managing people.

The fund will also provide one-to-one business support and networking, tailored to your specific needs. All recipients of business support will also be able to apply for a range of grant funding, up to a maximum of £10K.

Learn more about the Social Enterprise Boost Fund at the A2B website.

Brum Rocks: Sandwell business event

Misfits Music Foundation is holding a business networking evening at Thimblemill Library on Thursday 21 March. There, you can learn about its Brum Rocks project.

Misfits Music Foundation is a local charity that holds community music activities for wellbeing in Birmingham and Sandwell. 

This year, the Misfits team is running a huge project called Brum Rocks. They are holding workshops across Birmingham and Sandwell, for adults who sing or play any instrument. These workshops will culminate in a Rock Extravaganza Finale Event in July 2024, with hundreds of people coming to sing and play together in Birmingham city centre.

To tell local businesses about Brum Rocks, Misfits invites you to a business networking evening on Thursday 21 March (7-9pm). Learn about sponsorship and volunteering opportunities, for an event that is likely to achieve a great deal of media coverage.

Brum Rocks logo in a plectrum shape

Over a glass of wine or soft drink and samosa, you’ll get to see a Brum Rocks workshop in action. This is thanks to members of Misfits’ Bearwood Rock Collective. You will also have time to network with people from other Sandwell-based businesses.

Send a message to if you’d like to attend. Tell her you heard about this event on the Sandwell Business Growth website.

National Apprenticeship Week 2024: two Sandwell success stories

For National Apprenticeship Week 2024, we share two stories about successful apprentices in Sandwell: Callum in carpentry and Paige in plastering!

National Apprenticeship Week 2024 takes place between Monday 5 and Sunday 11 February. It’s a chance to celebrate apprentices, their achievements, and the positive impact they make on communities, businesses and the wider economy.

Sandwell Council recommends apprenticeships to local businesses as a way of investing in the future. You can train an employee to have the skills that are exactly right for your industry, in a cost-effective way. In the meantime, you are fostering a culture of development and learning in your workplace.

A social value commitment

So we also recognise apprenticeships as a social value commitment: a way to give back to Sandwell and its people.

Therefore, we have been very glad to hear about the progress of local resident Callum Farmer. Callum started with a trainee multi-trade position with building contractors E Manton, which led to an apprenticeship with Sandwell Council.

E Manton was the principal contractor working to expand the Ron Davis Centre in Smethwick. This is a learning hub run by Sandwell Adult and Family Learning Service (SAFL).

Funded by the Towns Fund, the £360k development added two new specialised digital classrooms to the Ron Davis Centre. It boosted the range of services that SAFL can offer.

The work enabled Callum to invest in tools and start saving for a car. Its varied nature – and further work with E. Manton – also allowed him to decide which area of the building trade suited him best.

Now Callum has gone on to do a carpentry apprenticeship with Sandwell Council’s Neighbourhoods Team. We hear that he is doing very well.

“I wanted to know how to get into a trade”

We’re also glad to hear about Paige, who is doing a three-year plastering apprenticeship.

Paige’s original plan was to work in the beauty industry. She had done a training course in beauty. She was also having one-to-one sessions with a mentor, who was helping her to find courses and look for suitable vacancies. The mentor was from Think Sandwell. This is Sandwell Council’s Employment and Skills Team, which helps local people into work and supports local employers to fill job and skills gaps in their workforce.

Paige’s career path took a change in direction, however, when her mum was having building work done on her home and struggling to find people to carry out work.

 “I realised that there was lots of work available and wanted to know how to get into a trade”, said Paige.

Responding to Paige’s change of heart, the Think Sandwell mentor arranged for Paige to do a construction overview course. This included training for a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card. Carrying this card gives proof that an individual working on a construction site has the required training and qualifications for the type of work they carry out.

Paige got her CSCS card, and along the way, learned that she enjoyed plastering the most.

With support from Think Sandwell, Paige applied for relevant work experience placements. Soon, drywalling specialists DCL offered her an opportunity to work with them on the Windsor Olympus Academy site in Smethwick.

As a result of her strong work experience performance, DCL offered Paige a three-year plastering apprenticeship. She started it in April 2023.

Learning a skilled trade

Scott Joynes is a project manager at DCL. He said: “It’s nice to see younger age groups having an interest in learning a skilled trade. Having Paige on site has been a breath of fresh air, she certainly keeps us all on our toes. I started as an apprentice myself when I was sixteen and it’s great to see the support networks that are in place to support apprentices now.”

John Jacznik, director at DCL, said: “It’s refreshing to have someone with that enthusiasm on site. Her character and spirit will make her into a great asset. The support from Think Sandwell in finding an apprentice and setting up the apprenticeship has been a great example of partnership working”.

Learn more about apprenticeships in Sandwell – and read more social value stories.

’Sales accelerator workshop’: sales training from Business Growth West Midlands

Business Growth West Midlands is offering a free sales accelerator workshop on Tuesday 27 February

This half-day sales accelerator event is for business owners and entrepreneurs in the West Midlands who want to boost their sales skills. It takes place at the TechnoCentre in Coventry. Experienced sales trainers Lindsey Newman-Wood and Iain Wood will be leading it.

The workshop will focus on practical strategies to increase sales. It will also be very interactive with plenty of discussions, case studies and hands-on activities.

Practical and interactive

Attendees can expect to learn lead generation tactics, acquire practical skills, develop sales strategies and network with other Midlands professionals.

Business Growth West Midlands works in collaboration with seven local authorities to help businesses in the region grow and develop. It has links with government, education and the private sector, and offers tailored support to businesses of any size and any sector.

Places are limited, so register now:

We’ve got more ideas for growing your Sandwell business.

‘Access to Finance’: taster session from Oxford Innovation Advice

Oxford Innovation Advice is giving a free interactive taster session for the Access to Finance programme on Thursday 21 March.

The Access to Finance programme offers guidance and support on business finance to West Midlands SMEs. The aim of the scheme is to demystify the world of business finance, enable growth and boost the regional economy.

This taster session is an opportunity to meet the Oxford Innovation Advice team and get an overview of the funding options available to businesses.

It takes place at our very own Sandwell Start-Up Hub here in Oldbury, from 10am to 3pm on Thursday 21 March.

The session will explore:

  • Debt finance and understanding interest rates
  • Alternative finance
  • Grant funding – is it free?
  • Crowdfunding – reward, social and equity
  • Angel investment and venture capital – when is it right for you?
  • The importance of creating a pitch deck or a business plan
  • Financial forecasting.

You can sign up via Eventbrite, or see other sessions on alternative dates.

Access to Finance programme open for applications

The Access to Finance programme offers tailored guidance and support on business finance to West Midlands SMEs.

The aim of the scheme is to demystify the world of business finance, enable growth and boost the regional economy. It is fully funded – the only investment required is time and energy.

Access to Finance covers topics such as:

  • Loans and overdrafts
  • Asset finance
  • Finding and grant applications
  • Equity
  • Crowdfunding
  • Creating forecasts and business planning documents
  • Pitch decks

Three decades of experience

There are two stages of support available:

  • Stage 1: Business engagement, information and advice 
  • Stage 2: Mentoring support to develop the investment pitch and financial forecasts 

Each stage includes one-to-one support by a dedicated finance specialist.  

Oxford Innovation Advice, which delivers the programme, has been supporting entrepreneurs for over 30 years. Access to Finance is part of the Investment Readiness Programme. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund and Business Growth West Midlands are funding it.

Businesses in all sectors are eligible

To be eligible for support, your business must be based in Birmingham, Solihull or the Black Country. You must also be looking to grow your business, or require finance for your business. SMEs from all sectors are eligible.

There is a free, interactive taster session in the Sandwell Start Up Hub on Thursday 21 March. This is an opportunity to meet the team and get an overview of the funding options available to businesses.

Are you interested in joining Access to Finance? Contact the Oxford Innovation Advice team to discuss your support needs further:

Christmas gift appeal: celebrating the generosity of our business community

Sandwell Council held a breakfast celebration event to thank businesses for donating to a children’s Christmas gift appeal.

On Thursday 18 January, around 45 people attended the morning event at our Sandwell Start-Up Hub in Oldbury. Sandwell Council hosted it to say thank you for 300+ gifts donated to Sandwell Children’s Trust’s 2023 Christmas gift appeal.

Recognising that many children and young people would receive few, if any, Christmas presents, Sandwell Council had appealed to partners and local businesses to donate new toys and gifts for Sandwell Children’s Trust to distribute in the borough.

The campaign asked for items suitable for newborn babies and appropriate toys for children of various ages. Also, for older teenagers: fragrance, vouchers, hats or scarves.

Sandwell Council’s partners and business community responded with generosity, donating more than 300 gifts. These organisations included our social value partners: businesses committed to ensuring the work they do in Sandwell has social or environmental benefits that extend beyond the scope of their contracts.

The thoughtful businesses dropped their gifts off in Oldbury by late November. This gave staff at Sandwell Children’s Trust time to wrap and distribute them before Christmas to local children and young people.

‘A business community willing to do more for people’

Councillor Peter Hughes is Sandwell Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and West Midlands Combined Authority. At the breakfast, he presented each participating business with a certificate of thanks.

He said: “It made me very proud to see our colleagues going the extra mile for the borough’s children – and I’m impressed with the businesses who rose to the challenge in supporting this campaign.

Lee Kingston and Councillor Peter Hughes

“Social value is important to Sandwell Council, and this has reinforced my belief that even in tough times we have caring partners and a business community willing to do more for people.”

‘You are all making a massive difference’

Jackie Hodgkins is Communications Manager for Sandwell Children’s Trust. She said at the time: “It’s an absolute pleasure to be able to help put smiles on children and young people’s face this Christmas.  Particularly for the vulnerable children in Sandwell who may not get a gift this year without the generosity of those who donate. 

“Thanks to everyone for their support and know that you are all making a massive difference to children’s lives.”

People sitting in green chairs at the Sandwell Start-Up Hub, clapping

Thank you

Thank you to everyone involved, both at the event and with the Christmas gift appeal. Special thanks to our colleagues from Sandwell Children’s Trust:

Emma Taylor – Chief Executive
Tara Malik – Director of Resources
Steven Gauntley – Director of Operations
Teo Bot – Director of Quality and Performance
Tom Davies – Engagement Manager
Jackie Hodgkins – Communications Manager

And to the generous businesses who both donated to the appeal and attended our event:

  • Axis Europe Plc
  • Birmingham, Garage & Industrial Doors Ltd
  • Bryant Electrical (Midlands) Ltd
  • Corroy Products
  • Countryside Partnerships
  • Doocey Group
  • Ideal Heating
  • J McCann & Co Limited
  • Jays Sourcing Group Ltd
  • Lift & Engineering Services Ltd
  • MCP Property Services Ltd
  • Newey Group
  • PHC Parts
  • Sandwell Jobs KPM
  • Sure Maintenance Ltd
  • Tricas Construction Ltd
  • Vinci Facilities
  • Welch & Phillips Building Contractors Ltd.

Regeneration West Midlands: we’re in the Express & Star

Check out the Express & Star‘s ‘Regeneration West Midlands’ supplement for January 2024. It contains a lot of information about our support for Sandwell’s businesses.

We have a double-page spread in the 24-page Regeneration West Midlands pull-out from the Express & Star for January 2024. Pages twelve and thirteen outline our extensive support for Sandwell businesses this year, underpinned by our Sandwell Business Growth Plan.

The support includes …

You can read the digital version here.