Small businesses across the North West have been awarded start-up grants from our SUSSED IT (Start up Support and Social Enterprise Development in Tameside) programme.

The programme aims to give people an extra helping hand alongside training and advice to either get their business started or reach the next stage. It is now open to anyone living in Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire and the Midlands.

Former engineer and model rocket builder Colin Rowe from Mossley, was one who was successful in receiving £500 towards his business ‘Colcanya’ – a name he came up with because he was always being asked by friends and family, ‘Col, can ya make this?’

Colin uses his engineering skills which he honed for 20 years working at Hyde Components in Denton before being made redundant due to the pandemic, to design and laser engrave a range of products from natural materials.

His most popular items, which he sells at local artisan markets, a gift shop and via social media, are personalised wooden coasters and small signs. Others range from gifts such as jewellery and keepsake boxes, tables, clocks and even a potter’s wheel made for another local business.

He can spend between 15 minutes up to 200 hours working on designs, with the most complicated being a private commission for an intricate drawing of the Star Wars Millennium Falcon lasered onto wood.

The grant will be used for his own branding, display tables and a gazebo for when he attends outdoor markets and events, as well as business cards.

Colin, who has a workshop at Woodend Mill in Mossley, was one of five small businesses across the region to receive the £500 funding alongside 1-2-1 business support, advice and training.

He said: “It’s been a fantastic boost to get this extra funding. While this has been a hobby of mine for a few years, it’s only since I got made redundant that I considered doing it full time. I’m really grateful for the business training and advice to help me take that step up.

“I’m looking forward to being able to get back to selling at markets again and having a decent display area will really help. In the meantime, I am working and selling through my Facebook page and via word of mouth which I hope will pick up in the run up to Christmas.”

Ivan Wright, Assistant Director of Neighbourhoods at Jigsaw Homes Group said: “There has never been a better time to help support small and start up businesses in our communities. We know that £500 can make a real difference to someone wanting to take that next step – especially when so many people’s livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic. We look forward to seeing businesses like Colin’s take off.”

Jigsaw’s neighbourhood engagement team contacted a number of residents who requested employment and training support during lockdown and has enrolled more than 75 residents on courses ranging from food safety to mental health and first aid training.

If you are a small business looking for support, advice or a grant (subject to checks) please e-mail employmentsupport@jigsawhomes.org.uk