Following a highly successful first funding round for its COVID-19 support scheme, enabled by a £100,000 contribution from Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL), the Caithness Business Fund has been able to support a wide range of businesses across the North Highlands as they look to reopen.
Grants have now been distributed to all successful applicants from the first round to enable a range of activities, including the purchase of PPE and cleaning supplies, modifications to offices and workshops, and development of clear policies and procedures to enable a safe return to work.
Several successful applicants are highlighted below, showcasing the range of businesses and activities supported by the Fund.
Annie Body, Annie’s Bakery, said:
"We opened a new cafe area as part of our business just prior to lockdown, and unfortunately it has been closed ever since. The support from the Fund will be really helpful in allowing us to open up an outside area with a marquee and patio heaters, allowing us to welcome customers back as soon as it is safe to do so.
"This will make a real difference to our business, as with current guidelines we could only have two tables inside our cafe at present and this funding will allow us to return to our original five."
Carey Henderson, The Beauty House, said:
"I'm delighted to have received funding from Caithness Business Fund, it's allowed me to make sure my salon is a safe environment for when I can welcome clients again. I'm really looking forward to opening soon and am grateful to the Fund for supporting me through the application process"
Steven Buttress, Buttress’s said:
"I am very grateful for the support from the Fund, which will help with getting the shop ready for reopening and putting appropriate signage and protection in place. We hope to reopen as soon as we can get the shop ready to a safe standard and look forward to welcoming our customers back soon."
Diane Mathiesen, Gents Cutting Room said:
"Keeping my customers and myself safe once I am able to reopen my barber shop is my first priority, and the support from the Fund will be a great help in achieving that. It will help me to purchase all the right equipment to ensure that people can safely get what I'm sure will be a much-needed haircut once I reopen."
Morag Mackenzie, Morags said:
"We have never applied for any grant funding before so we were delighted to be successful in this. We moved to offering takeaway through the shutdown, and the money from the Fund has gone a long way to helping us develop outdoor seating so we can restart table service in a way that helps our customers feel comfortable and safe.
"There is a long way to go yet and a lot of uncertainty but hopefully with us and other town centre businesses opening up again we will start to get a more positive feel to the town centre."
Trish Bremner, Norbloc Construction said:
"As a business operating in the construction sector, we have been closely following the guidance from the Scottish government for restarting the industry. This has involved a significant cost to us in terms of carrying out health and safety assessments and ensuring that all the elements such as signage and PPE are in place to enable a safe return to work. Over the past three weeks we have been able to manage a phased return and are now operating at around 70% capacity.
"The support from the Fund has made a big difference in helping us to meet these costs and manage this phased return. The safety of our workforce is our first priority and this support has helped us to ensure that we are able to guarantee a safe working environment for our team."
The first round generated a significant level of interest and, recognising the challenges faced by business as they enter the COVID-19 recovery period, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority generously contributed an additional £100,000 to enable a second funding round, which closed on 30 June 2020. The Fund looks forward to supporting even more businesses as it assesses these applications over the coming week.