Lockdown Lifting, Loving and Living Your Best Life – FU Loves The Midlands #14

Today feels like a really positive day. Pubs and restaurants can reopen with safety measures, the other half can finally get a haircut, overnight guests can come to stay, and social distancing can be dropped from 2m to 1m. All excellent news for small businesses and for an economy that needs to bounce back from measures that have never been witnessed outside of war time. We’ve even booked flights for future trips abroad (and the Ryanair refund vouchers worked!), so it does feel like a corner has been turned.

What’s interesting to hear is that what we’re now being offered is guidance rather than full-on legislation – an important distinction and one open to personal interpretation.  For me, what it says is that it is down to us to be responsible, to use common sense, to calculate, manage and ascertain risk. We have to return to a ‘normal’ life, but we must do it sensibly and with caution.  I think most of us are intelligent adults and should be able to manage that – and those that can’t probably haven’t been obeying the rules, anyway!

So, welcome to a new week; a new beginning with new hopes and, of course, new challenges.

Let’s get started!

Jon, Kevin and the #FUFighters

PS. Above pic is the new outdoor space at the new Orton’s Brasserie in the Cultural Quarter – ready just in time! 


Why was the cat disqualified from the race?

Because it was a cheetah



There is a real sense of the nation opening up for business once again (it was fantastic to see the queues outside shops in Leicester), so this week we want to delve a little deeper into the free services from the Business Gateway Growth Hub and understand just how they can help your business.

If you aren’t aware, the Growth Hub provides comprehensive business support, free and impartial advice as well as capital grants of between £2,000 and £25,000 to small and medium-sized enterprises in Leicester and Leicestershire. They also have an extensive webinar programme on offer that has been developed over the past few months.

This isn’t just another online offering though, there are business advisers (real people!) available at the end of the line, and we wanted to find out more about them and understand what makes them tick. The Growth Hub has a team of 11 advisers who have invaluable experience of running their own business, or have held significant roles in commercial businesses, so they really do ‘get’ the challenges you face.

The front-line advisers take the initial call and find out a little more about you, so they can marry you up to the right support. The business adviser will then be in touch to set up that initial meeting, either virtually or on the phone, until face-to-face is possible again.

Ian Evley, Business Adviser (pictured) talked through that process with us: “The first conversation is all about getting to the core of the business and discovering what makes it tick. People often ask what they need to bring ready for the call and I always answer the same: themselves!

“There’s finance including grants available and we can help large numbers of businesses to access it to support their business, especially during these uncertain times. Being a business owner can be stressful and now, for some, those stresses are tenfold. Sometimes, it helps to have someone who understands, and this can lead to the answers the business needs.”

More than simply providing information, a Growth Hub adviser will find key areas where a business could utilise advice and funding most effectively. The Growth Hub is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and run in partnership with Leicester City Council, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), Leicestershire County Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited (LLEP), so you know you can trust the support provided.

Still unsure or nervous about picking up the phone? Don’t be. They are down to earth and, having been through the process ourselves, the team make you feel at ease very quickly, so, what have you got to lose?

You can reach them on:

T: 0116 366 8487
W: www.bizgateway.org.uk
E: [email protected]

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bizgateway
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/business-gateway-growth-hub/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BizgatewayGrowthHub/




Buckle up, Birmingham! Your family’s summer plans may be looking a little different this year, but you can still party from the comfort and safety of your car, according to intu Merry Hill, who is hosting its very own Car Park Party!

The outdoor ‘drive-in’ event brings together world renowned brands in comedy, karaoke, and theatre.  Each day, there’ll be a different fun-filled experience, showcasing Car Park Comedy, Car Park Karaoke and Car Park Theatre on the main car park at The Waterfront at intu Merry Hill, across Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th July.

A traffic management system will be in place and all vehicles will be parked two metres apart.  Food and beverages will be available to buy and takeaway, adhering to government guidelines on social distancing and safety.  Accessible toilet facilities will be provided with social distancing health and safety management and sanitation measures in place.

On Thursday evening the entertainment begins with a spectacular sing-along concert from the Massaoke Band, bringing two performances with ‘A Night at the Musicals’ and ‘Back to the Eighties’. Families are in for a treat during the daytime on Friday when Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain brings live theatre to the car park, whilst Friday evening will feature some of the UK’s top comedic talent, supplied by the world-famous Comedy Store.

There will be limited tickets for each show priced at £35 per car for comedy & karaoke and £30 per car for theatre (£2.50 booking fee applies).  Tickets are available here.


Curve is offering audiences the chance to not only watch, but take part in a night of entertainment from the UK’s best emerging talent. Fresh from his hugely successful Britain’s Got Talent appearance, Magical Bones invites you to the totally unique show live via Zoom on the 26th and 27th June.

Joined by magicians, dancers, singers and many other specialist acts such as Brendan Rodrigues, Magic Singh and Shelley Baker, this exclusive Zoom event, will be distributed as one ticket per screen, so your whole household can watch from that screen.

In order for you to participate, you will also be sent an e-package along with an ID that contains features that will assist in your taking part in certain elements of the show and may even be ‘spotlighted’ meaning you will be seen/heard by other people watching the show.

Being stuck at home doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a bit of magic! Your sofa is the best seat in the house for this special live and interactive magic experience.

Tickets available from www.curveonline.co.uk



LCC have released the City’s Reopening Plan and Advice and Guidance. The advice and guidance have been published to support the reopening of the essential retail from June 15th alongside the new measures for the reopening of the hospitality sector that’ll come in from July 4th.

Expect the plan to be updated with advice and guidance based on the Government guidelines for this sector. Hairdressers and barbers can find a link to advice on reopening in the advice and guidance for reopening pdf along with other useful links for all businesses.

To view the council’s website where these documents can be found click here.


Lockdown has meant that all of us have had to change our plans in one way or another but have you or a loved one had to put off  a special occasion, major milestone birthday, anniversary or even wedding? Well, events planning company, House of Herlihy, is on hand to help and is offering one lucky winner the chance to celebrate in style!

House of Herlihy Events has teamed up with some of their favourite Brummie suppliers to bring you the most memorable – and stylish event ever!

Whether it’s for you and your partner, or for you and up to five of your closest friends, you’ll enjoy a bespoke five course taster menu, served with a cocktail from The Brummie Gastronomist.

Sinead from House of Herlihy will work with you to create a theme for your lavish lockdown feast and your prize includes:

• Event planning from @houseofherlihyevents

• Five course tasting menu with a welcome cocktail for up to six guests from @the_brummiegastronomist

• Bespoke cake from @boutiquebakingco

• Floral table centrepiece from @the_hedge

• Balloons up to the value of £100 from @spreadloveballoons

For a chance to win, visit @houseofherlihyevents on Instagram and follow these simple steps;

  1. Like the post
  2. Tag the friend(s) that you’d like to share this treat with
  3. Follow the brands tagged in the post

For an extra entry, you can also share the post on your Instagram story.


*Closing date for entries is 12th July 2020, and the winner will be contacted by 15th July 2020. The prize is valid until 31st September 2020 within a 20-mile radius of Birmingham city centre. The event date is subject to availability and there is no cash alternative, terms and conditions apply



Limited edition Charlie Fox T-shirt designed by Evie as part of the Charlie Fox T-shirt design competition is now available to buy from the Leicestershire County Cricket Club’s clubshop.

The NHS has played a crucial role in the fight against COVID-19 through their incredible, dedicated work during the pandemic. As a club, LCC launched the Charlie-Fox t-shirt to support their efforts through raising money as all proceeds will be donated to the NHS Charities Together.

Designed by 12-year-old Evie, the limited-edition t-shirt has proved popular with 50% of the pre-order stock already sold. Be quick to make sure you don’t miss out! Get yours here.


Central England Co-op is marking Co-op Fortnight by shining a light on what it has been doing to support communities and some of the great acts of co-operation carried out by colleagues throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.

The annual event is organised by Co-operatives UK and, this year, the fortnight aims to harness the new culture of co-operation and change in everyday behaviour brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic to raise awareness of co-ops and the values that run through the diverse sector.

Central England Co-op has been determined to demonstrate its co-operative values to support communities during these uncertain times. Among the ways it has done this has been through the setting up of five community hubs in Burton, Derby, Leicester, Lichfield and Stafford, working collaboratively with local councils and organisations to identify vulnerable members of the community and delivering packages of food and essentials.

When the retailer heard from its food bank partners about the huge spike in demand for their services at the same time as a drop in donations as the impact of the pandemic first hit in March, it launched an urgent food bank appeal and made five figure donations to both FareShare Midlands and FareShare East Anglia to support their vital work.

Central England Co-op also stepped in to support its charity partner Dementia UK with a donation of £25,000 to their urgent fundraising appeal, with other charity donations made by the Society including £40,000 to two charities as part of an effort to help support those impacted by a rise in domestic violence.


Cultural Quarter coffee shop & kitchen, Grays will be hosting a socially distanced garden party at its home in LCB Depot every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from the 9th July.

The plan is to offer a fresh, exciting take on the good old-fashioned BBQ lovingly created in their newly renovated kitchen and cooked on their big blue BBQ eggs! The BBQ will be accompanied by a varied range of sides, salads and sauces, as well as a delicious dessert menu designed to make you drool!

Gray’s very good friends, Bamboo Street Food, will also be starring alongside offering their full 100% Vegan menu, and there will be an extensive range of drinks, natch, ranging from ‘probably’ Leicester’s biggest soft drink selection,  to organic beer and cider from brewers Samuel Smiths, wine selected by local merchants Francis Fine Wines and Gray’s own take on cocktails!  Could be messy!  Lol.

Service will run from 5.30pm – 9pm, with limited covers, and the option of dining inside or al fresco. Tables will be booked for a minimum of 2, to a maximum of 8 people, and it will be a no pressure affair, so whatever time your table is, it will be yours for the night.

A whole host of social distance safety measure are in place such as single use menus, staff PPE and sanitising stations.

Check out Grays Instagram page @grays_lcbdepot to see pictures and videos of the food, drinks and fun that will be on offer. Bookings are open from 29th June.



Toni Robinson, Managing Director of NucleusHR provides clarity for employers on the latest announcement from the government regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

The main announcements are:

  • There are no changes to the scheme up until 31 July 2020 – therefore employers will receive the same support as they currently do – 80% of pay up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, plus associated pension and employer NIC costs.
  • From 1 July 2020 – “Flexible Furlough” will be introduced, which means a CJRS grant can be claimed for the days an employee is on furlough even if they return to work for certain days (e.g. on furlough for three days of the week and working two days). This introduction of the Flexible Furlough means that CJRS cannot be used for anyone who has not been furloughed before 10 June 2020.
  • From 1 August 2020 – whilst the employer will still be able to claim a CJRS wage grant of up to £2,500 (or 80% of pay if lower) per month, the additional CJRS pension and NIC support will stop.
  • From 1 September 2020 – The employer will be required to contribute 10% of the CJRS wage costs, with the Government’s contribution therefore reducing to 70% (maximum of £2,187.50).
  • From 1st October 2020 – The employer will be required to contribute 20% of the CJRS wage costs, with the Government’s contribution therefore reducing to 60% (maximum of £1,875).
  • The CJRS arrangement is due to come to an end completely on 31 October 2020.

It is important to note, that regardless of employer or government contribution, an employee who is benefiting from the CJRS scheme should always receive a minimum of 80% of their salary up to £2,500 per month.

Although the detail has altered since the government announcement on 12th May, the announcement demonstrates that the government is keen to continue to support businesses and also help get individuals back to work as soon possible.

For more advice, contact Toni Robinson on [email protected]

The 50th anniversary of the Glastonbury Festival may be on-hold this year, but that isn’t stopping the party with a virtual Glasto announced for us all to enjoy in our homes and garden. The main Glastonbury website has a huge number of playlists, virtual performances, YouTube channels, dance parties, documentaries, and activities to enjoy. Meanwhile the BBC is showing a full programme of the best bits from festivals gone by including Elbow and Beyonce from the 2011 festival on Friday; Adele and Coldplay from 2016;  the Chemical Brothers from 2000 and Stormzy from 2019 to be aired on the Saturday and the legendary Amy Winehouse is centre-stage on the Sunday.



With the allowance of overnight guests only just allowed, BIRMINGHAM has been revealed as the lockdown-busting capital of Britain when it comes to singles meeting for illicit intimate relations, according to a new study.

Saucy Brummies have managed to go an average of just 11.58 days before breaking the rules to have sex during the coronavirus restrictions, closely followed by people from Nottingham and Coventry.
Singles in Sheffield lasted the longest without intimacy – 18.39 days – followed by those in Aberdeen and Liverpool, according to a survey of 1,000 people looking for a partner conducted for international dating app happn.

The happn study found that singles across Britain are amongst the most rebellious in society, with 40% saying they had met with others outside of their household and broke social distancing rules for romantic purposes during lockdown.

When meeting up romantically, more than three in five (62%) singles say they have hugged their lover, over half have touched (51%) and kissed (51%), and a hefty 44% have engaged in sexual intercourse.


Award winning business growth partner Dee Beckett fans the flames of success with her advice about how businesses can bounce back post COVID-19- read it here.


Nominations have opened for the BusinessDesk’s 2020 Leadership Awards. Impact can be measured in several ways, including improving financial performance, organisational culture, or external reputation, to overcoming adversity and challenges or by enabling others to succeed.

In this challenging year, many of the shortlisted individuals will have demonstrated qualities of resilience, innovation, and strong communication, having led their teams and organisations through the coronavirus crisis. But, great leadership can also be demonstrated through roles outside of their organisation, where the individual is championing the region, sector, or under-represented groups on various stages.

Deadline for Midlands entries are Friday, July 10 and you can enter here.



With the Covid-19 lockdown putting a stop to Let’s Feed Brum’s outdoor soup kitchen operations, the charity has mobilised forces to roll-out a free ‘Friendship Chatline’ for people who use its service, in aims of combatting loneliness. Calling on its volunteers to operate the phone-line each evening, Let’s Feed Brum hopes that it can help continue supporting those who turn to the charity for a friendly face.

While many users of Let’s Feed Brum have been placed into temporary – and in many cases permanent – accommodation due to the government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative, the closure of the soup kitchen has meant that many miss out on weekly interactions with friends and volunteers. Determined to continue offering a safe space to those experiencing homelessness, the charity launched the chat-line for those who feel like they need to talk to a familiar voice during these challenging times.

Running every evening between 6.30pm – 7.30pm, the Friendship Chatline offers an opportunity for people to call up and talk: be that to express any concerns or worries that they may have, or simply to just have a chat with one of the charity’s friendly volunteers across one of the four phonelines. Outside of the designated hour, callers can leave a message or request a call back, which is then personally followed-up by the team, who can then connect them to any additional help.

As a charity that has offered support and guidance to the city’s homeless community, Let’s Feed Brum is determined to continue its work throughout the pandemic, and the launch of the Friendship Chatline will enable volunteers to point users to resources and further assistance, should they need it. Every volunteer taking part in the chatline has participated in online training sessions, ensuring that they are able to welcome callers in the same way that they would be welcomed to the weekly outdoor soup kitchen.

To find out more about how you can contribute to Let’s Feed Brum, click here.


With gym’s set to remain closed for the time being, HIIT training could be the perfect home workout plan to keep the pounds at bay.  Nuffield Health’s Senior Personal Trainer, Phil Goulding, explains what HIIT training is, what it’s good for and when to use it.

HIIT training stands for High Intensity Interval Training – a form of cardiovascular exercise. It is great for those who are short on time as a way of maximising your time spent in the gym. A typical HIIT session, not including your warm up, would last a maximum of 20 minutes.

HIIT training leads to greater EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) when compared to continuous exercise. This means that after you have finished exercising, your body will continue to burn calories at a higher rate than normal. The evidence base is small, but at least one study has shown that you can match the training effect of continuous training in less time using a proper HIIT protocol.

There have also been studies done which show that HIIT is a great way of improving your VO2 Max. This is essentially a measurement of how fit you are and is linked to all-cause mortality (your chance of dying). Those with a higher VO2 max have a lower risk of death compared to their peers.
HIIT can essentially be used by anyone, although if you have recently had a Health MOT and been advised to partake in moderate intensity exercise, then you should look to improve your fitness and other health markers before embarking on a HIIT training programme.

If you’re feeling fit and well, why not try the class above?



Deborah Mitchell, Founder of renowned beauty brand Heaven Skincare, unveils her latest 100% vegan product – Nettle Venom Anti-Ageing Cream. Following in the footsteps of her world famous Bee Venom Masks, this exciting new launch offers the same potent anti-ageing properties using only ingredients gifted by nature.

Deborah has spent the last four years investigating how to create the most impressive vegan anti-ageing product on the market. She has developed her newly patented ingredient called NETTATOXIN® that works in a similar way to her sought-after ABEETOXIN® but rather than using the venom from bees she has harnessed the sting of the common British nettle.

Heaven Skincare’s Nettle Venom anti-ageing cream is priced at £64 and a limited number are now available online here.


“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

– Lao Tzu

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