Charlotte Patrick is Vice Chair of Brackmills Business Improvement District (BID) and Key Sector and Knowledge Transfer Manager at the University of Northampton.
I set up the original Brackmills Estate Group many years ago, working with businesses on the estate and heading up funding bids. Then, around 12 years ago, businesses voted YES to becoming a Business Improvement District (BID), which means businesses pool an annual levy which then funds improvements across the estate. Seeing the estate grow and transform has been hugely exciting – we now have record low crime rates and our own Police Support Community Officer. We recently upgraded our CCTV security cameras and fund a host of projects to ensure the estate is green, clean, safe, secure, and vibrant.
Since COVID -19 I have been part of the BID’s fortnightly Zoom-based surgeries – these are for businesses to dial into. People ask questions, make suggestions, request support and much more. Going online has meant we are talking to more people than ever before, so I suspect we will continue to host online events even post-coronavirus.
My role at the University is focused around engaging with local businesses. I support companies on areas such as innovation through funded projects such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, link up companies to access expertise across the university from academics through our Big Ideas Programme, to student projects & placements, funding applications and partnerships and more. We facilitate several forums to support local organisations and businesses and these range from HR and logistics to manufacturing, apprenticeships and health, safety and wellbeing. All run along a similar format to allow companies to share information and best practice. All events are industry led and cover a very wide range of topics.
The Logistics sector in the county is a key employer – with over one in seven in the county employed in the sector. The Northants Logistics Forum, which I help lead, allows those in the sector to share information and develop opportunities – from promoting the wide variety of careers to young people through to supporting companies and developing collaborative partnerships to help resolve industry issues.
My typical week is much changed now as I am based at home – speaking to people over the phone a lot more, running online business support forums and juggling this all with home schooling my two daughters. This can often mean that part way through one of my small assistants may well join me!
I’m hosting a number of the University of Northampton Business Support WebEx – my IT skills are getting better across the wide range of formats we are now using – and although I am juggling a lot I still find time to bake – which is my way of relieving stress.
The Northamptonshire Logistics awards 2020 have been put back to later in the year which means there is more time for businesses to enter. Now, more than ever, there has been some incredible work happening so this is an opportunity to celebrate our sector and reward all the hard-working businesses and staff that are keeping our country’s supply chain moving.