Funding, Thank Yous, Festivals and Future Planning – FU Loves Leicestershire #15

This week, we’ve taken to Zoom to record our lead message, as we prepare for our cities to become partially ‘unlocked’ from Monday.  Take a listen to our message from Kevin FU.

Have a great week, Jon, Kevin and the #FUFighters

Obligatory Bad Joke

How many tickles does it take to make an octopus laugh?

Ten tickles.




As the wheels of industry start to slowly turn again (hallelujah) and businesses begin to return to some kind of normality following the coronavirus crisis, we’d like to introduce you to the Business Gateway Growth Hub.  Some of you may already know them, but for those that don’t, they are a one-stop shop for businesses in Leicester and Leicestershire who are looking for support/ advice/ guidance/ access to grants – but might not know where to turn to first.  Certainly, we at FU have been in that position and have found them super-useful… find out why here and how they can be helping you get back on your feet.


Leicester & Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership report that the Discretionary Grant Fund, which is being managed by local authorities is now live. The fund has been set up to support small and micro businesses that are not eligible for other grant schemes. The grant fund is limited, and each local authority has a set budget allocated to them, so don’t delay.

You may get a grant of £25,000, £10,000, or any amount under £10,000 and it is down to your local authority as to how much you could be eligible for.

To find out more, click on your local authority page and they will have more information. Once you apply, your local authority will run an application process and decide whether they can offer you the grant. You do not have to repay the grant, but it will be taxable. Only businesses that make an overall profit once the grant income is included will be subject to tax.


Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL) have  released an emotive video at the culmination of National Volunteers Week to say “Thank You” to all the volunteers who have given their time, not just in the last few weeks, but over the previous months when local communities have needed it the most.

A combination of well-known faces from city and county, including Sir Peter Soulsby and Rupal Rajani – and not forgetting some of the FU team – recite a poem that was specially written for the video by our very own Jonathan Fraser-Urquhart.

Kevin Allen-Khimani, Executive Manager – Public Sector Contracts & Projects at VAL, said: “We are incredibly proud of the work all our volunteers have done over the years, but this year in particular has seen us all face challenges we never thought we would, and so many have relied completely on the support of volunteers to get them through. For National Volunteers Week 2020, we thought it only right to say a special thank you to those who have stepped up and I challenge anyone watching the video not to be wiping away a little tear of pride by the end – I know I certainly was!”

Alongside the estimated 6,000 charities and community groups across Leicester and Leicestershire, the current pandemic has seen an ‘army’ of over 2,500 people sign up to support their local community following VAL’s recent outreach campaign, run in conjunction with Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council.


This week’s Unsung Hero is Ben Knowles of Ben’s Kitchen in Kirby Muxloe who, alongside running a Sunday carvery delivery service, has been making meals for the NHS and delivering them to Leicestershire hospitals. Ben has also been taking shopping orders from the local community for hard to find items before doing each wholesale run; supplying community food boxes and has even reached out to animal charities to offer up veg peelings and surplus stock to help keep animals fed. We love your community spirit!  Note to self: we need to order one of those Sunday roasts!  @1BensKitchen


Hope Against Cancer is doubling the size of their Clinical Trials Facility at Leicester’s Royal Infirmary – and is calling upon the people of Leicestershire and Rutland to help them do it.

Funding research is the only way to beat cancer, and Hope is at the forefront of giving people a better quality of life and a vastly higher chance of surviving the disease. The Hope for Life Appeal is aiming to raise over £1.5 million to totally redevelop and extend the Hope Clinical Trials Facility. Every year, around 5,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Leicestershire. Thanks to organisations like Hope, of this 5,000, more people than ever are surviving. Hope for Life is the next step in making sure the number of people surviving cancer continues to rise.

Hope is calling on people to start fundraising and help them achieve their fundraising target. In the past, local people have organised events, sporting challenges, competitions, bake sales, bike rides and a host of other activities to generate cash for the charity’s life-saving work. Historically, local citizens have always risen to the challenge to ensure Hope Against Cancer delivers its vital research. If you’ve been moved by the charity’s ambition and need to get this done for local cancer patients, you can add your fundraising power to the Hope for Life Appeal by visiting Hope’s social media pages here: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or donate through the Hope for Life Appeal here.


Businesses can now submit applications to run an event as part of the sixth Leicester Business Festival, taking place from 2nd to 13th November. Arrangements are in place to allow the LBF to be completely adaptable this year, depending on the Government guidelines at the time. Events can be purely digital; physical (as is hoped will be possible in November); or a combination, with physical events being live-streamed.

Events can be about anything and can take any form, from a workshop or product demonstration to a seminar or round table debate. You decide, but it must be business focused. The LBF is sure to inject some much-needed positivity to the region and it will be a great way to get your business noticed.
To run an event in the LBF, just hop on to the website and apply by completing the short form, providing details about your event, the date and time and venue.

To find out more, visit the LBF website.


Artreach is looking to commission artists to produce work for the upcoming Journeys Festival, which celebrates the creative talent of exceptional refugee and asylum seeker artists and shares the refugee experience through great art in Leicester.

From 28th September to 18th October, the Festival will bring incredible experiences created by artists with lived experience of seeking sanctuary to audiences in digital spaces. This year’s festival themes are The World we Live In, Creative Responses and Sharing Stories, and Hope and Celebration. New artist commission are for work in any art-form and will be created for digital sharing as part of the festival. The fee for each commission is £1500 and includes production costs.

Find out more about how to apply and eligibility here.



Many of us are now working from home on laptops for longer periods, with less time to socialise with colleagues and all the while juggling work and family life. These all add up to the perfect ingredients for a thumping headache and tired eyes.  But there is help at hand thanks to Nuffield Health’s Dr Rashmi Singh, GP, who takes a specific look at eye strain and headaches and offers some top tips for preventing headaches.

Read them here.


Cultural Quarter Earlies is back, this time online this Saturday from 12-4pm with more FREE family art activities all within a few clicks of each other. Free, drop in and no need to book! It’s probably helpful if children are helped by an adult!

This month’s events include:

LCB Depot

Learn how to draw using scratch with Sean Clark from Interact Digital Arts, part of their digital arts season. Find out more at

Phoenix at Home

Learn how to make your own games at home with Scratch and Phoenix’s fun tutorials

Leicester Print Workshop

Fun printmaking activities to try at home inspired by Rachel Duckhouse’s work in LPW’s current exhibition Layered Space


With more time spent at home than ever before, the under 35s seem to be using it most wisely – building up their skillset to help boost their career prospects during a time of economic uncertainty. New research from flat sharing site SpareRoom has found that 61% of under 35-year-olds have been learning a new skill or trying a new activity during lockdown.

Almost half (43%) of those who are learning or trying something new have devoted their time to educational activities, like a new language, taking an online course or even learning to code. 39% of those under 35 believe their newfound skills will be transferrable to their current jobs, with 89% keen to apply their new ability to life and work outside of lockdown. 21% of those who have learnt or tried something new are even considering a complete career change as a result of the pandemic.


Leicester’s SoundCafe have received a generous donation of £10,000 from Paragon Bank PLC to further support the work of the city centre based charity with people who are homeless, isolated and vulnerable.

SoundCafe normally meets every week in the Grand Hall at St Martins House, next door to Leicester Cathedral, and works with those who are homeless or socially isolated by providing a safe creative space to explore, grow and express their artistic talents. Guests listen to and perform music, sing together, and are encouraged to write poetry, prose and undertake arts and crafts.

Due to Covid-19, SoundCafe is unable to provide the usual invaluable daytime activities and opportunity for support to their guests, but the Paragon donation will enable the charity to plan new ways of delivery for the future as they emerge from the pandemic.


The lockdown and uncertainty over summer holidays has led to a boom in business for one UK company with Compass Pools reporting a 600% increase in orders for home swimming pools as millions of us prepare to spend our summer holidays in the UK with ‘Swimming pools’ becoming one of the top 10 Googled products in the UK.

Managing Director and pool designer, Alex Kemsley, says the cost to build a basic home pool starts from £60,000 and they can be installed in as little as 17 days, meaning Brits’ desire to own their very own slice of paradise needn’t only be a pipedream on Pinterest.

He said: “We’ve seen a sharp rise in enquiries and orders for home swimming pools as people decide to holiday at home rather than head to the airports. A home pool can give years and years of pleasure and can also add value to a home, so it’s an investment that a growing number of people are choosing to make. We have also had a run of hot weather and that’s helped too!”


Who said lockdown networking can’t be fun?  Not the KuKu boys, Philip and Stephen.  Ordinarily offering ‘real-life’ connection events in luxury venues across Leicestershire, the colourful duo has taken to Zoom to offer their own blend of KuKu zoom networking, every Wednesday from 5pm.   It’s an open invitation, if you fancy giving it a whirl and connecting with new businesses and contacts across the county.  Each cocktail hour is viewed by over 1500 people each week, either as viewers or across the live feed – that’s a lot of new eyes and ears to tell about your business.


As employees return to work, UK businesses are likely to face a backlog of annual leave requests that could cost many thousands of pounds and put further strain on businesses, says Coworking Specialists Instant Offices who have calculated how much it would cost for companies of different sizes to pay staff for a minimum of two weeks of annual leave after lockdown.

Heading into the second half of 2020, the risk of ‘too many’ employees requesting annual leave at the same time will pose a significant challenge for most businesses. For a small company, paying out 10 employees for only half of their annual leave days could set the business back more than £10,000, while an SME of 250 employees faces up to £255,500 in costs.

Lucinda Pullinger, Global Head of HR at The Instant Group, says “In addition to the financial challenges, there is a huge wellbeing element here too. The need for a break from work has never been higher. The pressures of Covid-19 on some people are extreme, and protecting mental health is key right now. Taking a break, even if that break is at home under lockdown, is still beneficial, and employers should encourage employees to take their holiday to protect their wellbeing, not just for financial reasons.”


Leicester-based arts and heritage organisation, Serendipity, is hosting a special online event on Monday 22 June to celebrate the contribution of the Windrush Generation and their descendants.

Professor Stephen Small will deliver a lecture that will contextualise Windrush, explore where we are now and look at the next steps. Born and raised in Liverpool to parents from the Windrush Generation, Small’s talk explores historical contexts, current social and political implications and personal reflections.

Following the talk, a screening of the short documentary film, A Very Brit(ish) Voice, commissioned by Serendipity in 2019, will take place. The film, directed by Jaha Browne, explores the stories of Caribbean people who travelled in the UK between 1948 and 1971 and settled in Leicester.

The Leicester-based contributors include Dennis ‘Sugar’ Christopher, Nelista Cuffy, Elaine Hinds, Robert Lee, Pearl Ricketts, Boston Williams and musician Mellow Baku. The film captures the experiences of the Windrush Generation and that of the present generation in their own words.

You can book your ticket to this online event for just £5 when you go to​. The event takes place on Monday 22 June, exactly 72 years after the Windrush Empire arrived at Tilbury Docks, Essex, from 6pm.


With working from home becoming permanent rather than temporary for many, it is probably time to invest some time and money in creating a dedicated office space rather than camping out on the kitchen table. Office furniture expert Mark Brown of Lismark Office Furniture offers a few tips on how to create the perfect home office.

Although the longest journey you are currently making may be upstairs, downstairs, to the bottom of your garden or wherever your workspace is located, it is important to replicate the physical separation between your home and work by having a designated workspace in your house. It would also be ideal if you could close the door to your ‘office’ at the end of the working day, so you are not tempted to nip back in just to check your emails.

Office Chair: Find a comfortable chair, that you are happy to sit on for up to 8 hours a day, preferably the office ‘swivel’ type with plenty of simple adjustments, including seat height adjustment to make sure the seat is at a height so that your legs are at 90 degrees and your feet are flat on the floor.

Office Desk: Try to get a designated desk which will make the transition from home to work much easier and will ensure that you are working at the correct height and position, making you feel more professional and in control. It will also mean that you won’t have to pack up every night as your ‘desk’ is going to be used as a dining table. You can simply shut your home office door and walk away until you start work the next morning.

Power: You may need extra power sockets as you will have a pc, printer, phone chargers, fans, etc. Consider a desk mounted power module with a least 2 power sockets for quick and easy access without having to dive beneath your desk and banging your head!

Good lighting: Good lighting is important to avoid eye strain. Consider adding a desk lamp to any existing lighting you have in your home office. Place your monitor or laptop so that there is no glare on the screen from any windows. Most importantly, make sure the lighting is very flattering when you take part in all of the Zoom meetings we are getting used to!

Ventilation: Get those windows open! A stuffy workspace makes you feel lethargic.


Since nationwide school closures were announced in March and with returning to school now looking questionable this side of September, it was with interest that we received the results of this new survey, which reveals all about the lockdown homeschooling experience.

Commissioned by Clarks, the survey found that the most enjoyable subjects for parents to teach are maths (49%), English (43%), history (27%), science (26%), and art (25%). Despite being deemed enjoyable, some of these subjects have also been challenging. Nearly a third of those surveyed said maths has been the most difficult to teach, followed by English (17%), science (15%), foreign languages (12%), history (7%) and I.T. (7%).

Virtual lessons held by celebrities have also been popular – whether it’s P.E. with Joe Wicks or David Attenborough’s geography classes, nearly a quarter (24%) of UK parents cited this as a homeschooling resource. Looking at who is adopting this new format for learning, a quarter of women teaching their kids have claimed to be tuning in, compared to only a fifth of men. It was also found that parents aged 25-34 use them more than any other age group.

Top findings for Leicester include:

People in Leicester are turning to Google for help with maths the most (with an average monthly search volume of 2,210), followed by English (SV 1,870), science (SV 1,810), geography (SV 1,520) and history (SV 510).

In mathematics, the phrase ‘what is a polygon’ has seen an increase of 183% in Google searches since April 2019, with those in Leicester searching for this to help with homeschooling more than any other UK city.

Top findings for Birmingham include:

More than a fifth of parents in Birmingham said they’ll respect and appreciate teachers a lot more since their experience of homeschooling. 28% said their experience has made them realise how much the curriculum has changed since they were at school.

Maths is reported to be the most enjoyable, despite also being the most challenging to teach.
Nearly 10% report experiencing some level of difficulty with finding the information they need to teach their kids at home. UK wide, this increases to 1 in 4 parents whose children are studying GCSEs and A Levels.

45% of Birmingham parents turn to Google for homeschooling help, 43% use BBC Bitesize and similar online education resources, and a third said they contact their children’s teachers directly. Around 18% say they’ve used virtual lessons hosted by celebrities.

Some of the most googled homeschooling questions are What is a verb? and how many bones in the human body. See the full list here:  


Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

Charles R. Swindoll

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