Volunteers with business experience are needed to provide Hertfordshire companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with immediate help.

The Volunteer Business Support Scheme is a Hertfordshire Growth Hub service run by the University of Hertfordshire. The scheme aims to help hundreds of Hertfordshire businesses struggling in the current climate.

Each volunteer will be provided with training and given a role based on their previous experience. They will then be partnered with businesses to provide them with remote peer-to-peer support and help them navigate the challenges they are facing. The Scheme will run for an initial period of six months and, subject to demand, may continue beyond this six-month period.

Julie Newlan, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business and International Development) at the University of Hertfordshire, said: This is a challenging time for many businesses and there has been a growing demand for more help, which is why we’ve launched this new Scheme.

Hertfordshire is particularly vulnerable to a severe economic downturn, particularly as the County is home to a high number of micro, small and medium sized businesses. As a result of the pandemic many of them are facing closure and this could have a devastating effect on the local economy.

“This is why this Scheme is so vital. The volunteers will be facing the same challenges as the businesses they will be supporting, which is why it is more important now than ever that we come together for the benefit of the community and local economy.”

Adrian Hawkins, Deputy Chair for the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “I am delighted that the University of Hertfordshire will be an intrinsic link and co-ordinate the advice that Herts based businesses need at this time. It’s a truly tough world and COVID 19 is not just affecting our Country but the health of the nation. As a successful business owner with some 40 years business experience, it is an environment that none of us have experienced before. This virus is having a severe effect on our businesses that are essential not only for the goods and services they supply, but also the employment they provide and the taxes that they pay to support our economy and our country.

"It is vital therefore that we do everything in our power to help Hertfordshire businesses survive this storm. Our business support services and the many volunteers are essential in making sure Hertfordshire based companies continue the great work they do once the lockdown has finished.”

Volunteers can find out more and sign-up to the scheme by visiting the University of Hertfordshire website.

Businesses interested in benefitting from the scheme should contact Hertfordshire Growth Hub, who will refer those that are eligible.