Firm’s base has more than doubled in size – all thanks to funding

TOP TEAM From left, Simon Gough, Natalie Young, Anita Bailey, Lacey Walton, Ashley Ayres, Lucie Perkins, Carol Morris and Kalvin Morris of Elite Care Services. Picture: Allan Hutchings (133400-740)

TOP TEAM From left, Simon Gough, Natalie Young, Anita Bailey, Lacey Walton, Ashley Ayres, Lucie Perkins, Carol Morris and Kalvin Morris of Elite Care Services. Picture: Allan Hutchings (133400-740)

The former Woolworths store in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, in 2011

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MORE staff and more business has been generated by a family-owned firm thanks to funding from Bridging the Gap.

Elite Care Services, based in Clarendon Road, Southsea, applied for money from the grant backed by The News last year and since then has seen its site expand to more than twice its original size.

It is a move that chief executive Carol Morris said would have taken two to three years to complete rather than nine months.

The firm, which is a care and nursing agency supplying staff across Hampshire and West Sussex, received £50,000 from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.

Carol said: ‘With the money we received from the Bridging the Gap fund, we were able to buy the pub next door to our offices. We were able to refurbish it and buy office equipment and now our site is more than double in size.’

The work for the refurbishment started in April last year and was completed by the summer.

Without the funding, Carol said it would have taken a lot longer for the family-run business to find the money.

She added: ‘We have been very sensible with our business and we have never taken out loans to pay for things.

‘It has always been our way to make sure we had the money coming from the business to pay for outgoings.

‘So the Bridging the Gap funding is the first lot of money we have ever received in a grant.’

Earlier this week, three more firms were announced who have received thousands of pounds from the fund.

Pie & Vinyl, Hydro Technical Solutions and Haylock and Pittman received £81,000 between them for a series of different projects.

But there is still £800,000 to give away and only two months in which companies can apply.

And, having benefited from the grant, Carol has said more small businesses should look into applying.

‘When we first heard about it, we thought there might be a catch,’ she said.

‘But the more we read into it, we saw that it is just a grant to help small businesses grow in different ways.

‘There is criteria to meet and paperwork to fill out but it is definitely worth it. It helped us expand and we now have more staff which is great.’

To apply visit solentlep.org.uk

HOW TO APPLY FOR A SLICE OF THE MONEY...

HELPING small businesses grow in different ways, the Bridging the Gap fund has already handed out £730,000.

Launched in 2012 by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, along with Portsmouth City Council, The News and the University of Portsmouth, the main focus of the fund is on private sector job creation.

Up to £50,000 can be applied for in grants by entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with the best new business and growth proposals.

For businesses ready to start up, funding is available for new projects, help getting a new business up and running and encouraging young entrepreneurs. Bidders will need to invest 30 per cent of the required funding.

For SMEs, funding is available to help overcome barriers to growth or facilitate business improvement. Bidders will need to invest at least 50 per cent of the required funding.

More than 15 firms have benefited from the funding and, with the other recent winners, has brought the funding total to just over £732,000.

It has also seen more than 100 jobs created in the region and a total of more than £1.5m bought into the Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant areas.

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