COVID-19 changes our Chamber support for local business

With the rapidly changing situation in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Chamber has reviewed how it will work with both member and non-member businesses in the coming weeks and months.

March saw the first fully virtual Chamber Board meeting

Given the government request to reduce public gatherings of any size, the Chamber Board meeting was held fully virtually for the first time last night.  Given that Chamber President, Paula Byers, works with cloud tech remotely with businesses across the UK, was very comfortable chairing the virtual meeting.  Having had individual Board members previously dial in who could not make the meeting in person, taking the whole meeting virtual was a natural step given the current circumstances, which the Board were keen to embrace.

It also gave the Board an insight in how to support organisations in the Northern Devon region going forward, resolving a number of changes to Chamber working to take into account the exceptional times we all find ourselves in.  These changes include:

  • Membership fee reduction
  • New online meeting structure
  • COVID-19 Resources webpage
  • Social support
  • COVID-19 News blog category

Read on for more information.

Membership prices reduced

Our membership year starts on 1 April 2020.  The Chamber Board recognise that this year will be an extremely challenging one financially for many businesses and to this end propose to reduce the membership fees reduced from £60 +VAT to less than half price at £25 +VAT for new members.  Existing membership renewals will see further reduction to £5 +VAT for members renewing at 1 April to preserve their membership but reward their support of the Chamber, many for a number of years.

New online meeting structure

As the Chamber will no longer hold in person events, we will be holding online meetings until further notice in order to ensure businesses of Northern Devon can still come together for support and networking.

These online events will be free to attend and the new event structure will follow two formats:

Meetings held in an hour-long webinar format will offer learning or information to support businesses during the pandemic.  The first meeting will be held on Thursday 26 March 2020 at 12pm and will offer a Q&A with an expert panel on Business Survival during COVID-19.  With future plans of topics such as finance, recruitment and much more, we hope to support and inform through the period of social distancing.

Online meetups
These informal style online meetups will offer an opportunity for businesses to come together to network or share.  Ensuring organisations across Northern Devon still have the opportunity to come together is key to keep communication and allowing people time to share will hopefully lessen the isolation in these tough trading conditions.

Check out our Eventbrite page to see our latest event listings:

These meetings will be held on the zoom online meeting platform, which will be hosted by LimeCloud in order to conserve Chamber financial resources.  Paula Byers, Chamber President and Founder of LimeCloud says "Working in the cloud means we have experience of using zoom for many years and working together to share skills and resources with the Chamber at this time is important." She continues, "The way we do business is changing rapidly in response to COVID-19, but the effects will last long beyond the pandemic."  

Full details will be given to those booking to attend the meetings to assist with the use of zoom.  It is also important to note that no attendee personal data will be held in the LimeCloud zoom platform, meeting links will be provided to the Chamber to ensure personal data remains in the Chamber.

COVID-19 Resources webpage

The Chamber has added a resource page to our website to offer help and support business and the wider Northern Devon community.  

The page contains a range of information including:

  • government updates
  • finance & business support
  • local & regional support
  • industry specific support
  • free tech
  • important notes
  • community
  • a little light relief

This is not intended to be an exhaustive resource and contains many links signposting to other support.  We will be adding to it, as things develop to keep you up to date.

To check out the new page visit our new COVID-19 Resources page.

Social support

We want to support businesses still trading and so will be offering the following to businesses who are changing their offer as a result of COVID-19, or if you are an online businesses already and able to continue trading:

There will be a post on our Chamber facebook page, for people to add their business details to, please do a short post of no more than 150 words, include a relevant hyperlink and up to 4 images which we can share on our page.  You can post this directly on facebook (send us a message with a link to the post for us to share).

Posts following the same format will be shared on LinkedIn and on the same basis as above.

Please tag us in your posts so we can share them on twitter.

This is aimed to support trading as much as possible and to highlight areas where businesses are able to provide support to others during this time.  However, please be aware that the Chamber is run entirely by volunteers, so we will get to posts as soon as we can but if we have missed yours, please do contact us with a reminder. 

COVID-19 News blog category

We will also be sharing business news and updates for and from businesses in a special COVID-19 News category on our blog, so that we can hopefully support those trading or doing good things to support the COVID-19 response.

If you have news to share - please contact us so that we can include it.

Open to all businesses in Northern Devon

We would stress these measures are open to any businesses in the Northern Devon area, whether Members or not, as we feel it is important that even though this may be a time of social distancing and self-isolation, we aim to ensure that no-one feels lonely or isolated in their business.

If you are unable to join the online meetings, would like to discuss something confidential, ask about support, or just to find a listening ear please contact us and someone will be in touch.

We are in this together

We would ask that everyone act responsibly by following advice, avoid panic buying and look out for each other.  As a Chamber we believe that we can build a stronger community together and never has it been more important for us to work together than it is now.

We are all in this together - but we can also get through it together.


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