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Bolsover Means Business

A hyper-local project aiming to help hard to reach businesses gain the skills they need to transition to net zero.

What was the challenge?

To carry out stakeholder engagement with micro-businesses and small and medium enterprises operating in Bolsover District to understand barriers preventing these types of businesses accessing training and funding to develop their understanding of net-zero and the skills or technology needed to make the transition to net-zero.  

What was the solution?

To deliver a pilot scheme based on learnings from stakeholder engagement to provide ‘proof of concept’ around what works, what doesn’t work and what might work better to provide the foundations for scaling up delivery and co-creating a successful programme of interventions over the longer term.        

What are your top three lessons learned?

A cash bursary to cover the costs of attending a boot camp really does drive engagement but it then takes a significant amount of effort to convert engagement into actual results.  

Building in networking opportunities to events adds substantial value for delivery partners and businesses not least by providing opportunities to gain much deeper insights.   

Peer to peer is the most powerful source of marketing but incredibly difficult to achieve and selling your events with focus on improving bottom lines or cutting costs works much better than promoting opportunities to save the planet – not many people out there talk about net zero …  

Project impact

1.a. What have the outcomes of the project been so far (e.g. development of a mapping tool to understand emissions per area)? 

The project partners gained a better understanding of how to engage and offer support to hard to reach businesses.

The businesses engaged by this project gained a better understanding of their own carbon footprint and how to reduce their impact. 

The businesses engaged by this project gained a better understanding of what support is available to them from the council, three local universities and from other business-led organisations in the local area.

The businesses engaged by this project gained better access to appropriate support to help them prosper through the transition to net zero.   

1.b. How will these outcomes be sustained? 

We have sought funding to continue the project until 2025 with funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.  

2. What is the anticipated longer term impact on progress towards net zero (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions savings)? 

On average, we were finding small businesses with their own premises could save around 4000 tonnes of carbon emissions p/a if we could move those businesses to action and make this scalable then our project will make a substantial cumulative impact over the longer term.   

3. How has this project evolved your approach to net zero (e.g. approach to stakeholders/ways of working)?

The project has identified some obvious barriers we overlooked – i.e. our model works for businesses who own their own premises less so for business in rented premises. Similarly, we found that there is an area of work we wasn’t aware of amongst the supporting industries i.e. the accountancy practices who can advise their businesses how to make cost savings through energy saving measures. We also found that wraparound support is needed to get a business from engagement, through the process of calculating their carbon footprint and creating a carbon reduction plan, to acting on that. 

4. Who will benefit from your project (please consider benefits to other parts of your organisations and your community)? 

The main beneficiaries of the project were the businesses and the VSCE organisations we engaged. The project partners also gained from the insights we gained and the opportunity to test various approaches with different cohorts of attendees. If we were to be able to convert engagement into action then the local community and local economy would both benefit from reductions in emissions and action towards decarbonisation.   

The learning from the project has been valuable to others in our respective organisations and other external partners because we have found our issues around micros and small and medium enterprises being hard to reach appears to be a universal issue.

Partnership development

Describe how your partnership developed over the course of the project 

We both took a lot from the boot camp and that process helped shape our working relationship and helped us refine our project. We were both running this project alongside our day jobs and that was challenging but we made time to take up the additional support outside of the scheduled meetings and met regularly to discuss the project plan and project delivery. We also gained the opportunity to do something really different from the organisational norms and really worthwhile that would not have been possible without the funding, commitment to the project from both organisations and the shared values of the lead officers.    

How will the partnership be sustained in the medium and longer term? 

We have agreed to work together on the next round of our project and we are actively involved in looking how to work collaboratively across a range of different areas.

Further information

For further information, please email:

[email protected]  

[email protected]