Kickstart has made a significant difference to our business

Ken is growing his business and Holly is starting a new career

Antiques retailer Manningtree Emporium was hit hard by lockdown, but with the help of the Kickstart Scheme, the Emporium has managed to fund placements for two new employees to help launch a successful online operation and keep the business afloat in difficult times. 

With lockdown, income stopped overnight 

“The 2020 Covid-19 crisis and national lockdowns made it very clear that our company could not survive with its simple, single tier retail strategy as most of our income was coming from face-to-face sales. In March 2020, when the first lockdown started, our income stopped overnight so we made an immediate decision to invest in online selling, supported by a comprehensive social media and promotion campaign. 

We needed more manpower 

We soon realised that we did not have enough manpower to cope with the huge amount of extra work needed to create, launch and maintain a viable online selling strategy and with limited resources results were disappointing.” 

The Kickstart scheme was the answer to our problems 

In July 2020, the Government announced the Kickstart Scheme as a way to support young people and the wider economy through the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme funds the hiring of unemployed young people, aged between 16 and 24 into meaningful 6-month placements as well as covering setup and training costs for the new employees.  

“The extra people we have been able to employ using the Kickstart funding are making a significant difference to our business. We have employed Holly to handle all of our social media activity and online marketing content. This has already resulted in increased traffic and sales from our still basic e-commerce website and a large growth in the number of people who follow our company's activities. A second young person, will be hired soon to handle our website listings and a new sales channel of Online Timed Auctions.

Central YMCA has given us invaluable guidance 

We must praise the help and support of the Central YMCA in guiding us through the application process and in providing ongoing support and employability training for our new employees. As a small company, their help has been invaluable. 

We hope to make these jobs permanent 

Our plan for the future of our two new members of staff is to develop their individual roles so that their jobs become self-funding and permanent. We sincerely feel that the six months of funding from the Kickstart scheme will provide enough time for us to achieve this as both positions will generate revenue over and above our regular sales income. We are already working on plans for new sales channels where we would hope to employ further young people through the Kickstart scheme.”  

Supporting youth employment 

Holly Leach, 19, is Manningtree Emporium’s first Kickstart employee and she was also hit hard by the pandemic. Young people are one of the groups hardest hit by the pandemic as jobs have dried up in some sectors. According to the Office of National Statistics, the unemployment rate among young people has reached 14.6%, far higher than the overall rate of 4.8%. 

“I worked at a cafe and was made redundant due to Coronavirus. I wasn’t able to afford my basic payments such as my car insurance, which was very frustrating and stressful. The Kickstart Scheme has massively helped me because the opportunity came up to work at Manningtree Emporium and now I am able to work doing something I love!   

Videography & photography are my passion and here I get to photograph items and I have also created videos promoting the shop. I am really enjoying working with social media so this is a possible career option for me.” 

Could you offer a young person a funded 6-month placement in your business? 

Central YMCA are a Kickstart gateway organisation and so can offer you full support including taking care of all administration.