From left, Focus business development manager Phil Hindle, operations director Thomas Donohue and clinical director Peter Palumbo.
From left, Focus business development manager Phil Hindle, operations director Thomas Donohue and clinical director Peter Palumbo.

How therapy service is using ICT funding to grow business

A Hull therapy provider is urging other SMEs to see if they can access funding for game-changing tech improvements.

Focus Counselling Services has huge ambitions to grow its operation beyond Hull after purchasing new premises in Beverley.

But before setting its expansion into motion, the company identified a need to transform its ICT systems – and got in touch with the Humber Business Growth Hub to seek financial support.

Focus in John Street, Hull city centre, accesses £7,000 towards the work from the hub’s ICT for Growth scheme, which helps firms to use ICT to support business growth.

And business development manager Phil Hindle says other smaller businesses should see if they could take advantage of the support.

Phil, 42, who has been with Focus since September last year, said: “The ICT for Growth scheme has helped us to transform our IT systems, supporting us to achieve the next phase of growth for the business.

“The Growth Hub has also helped us by offering lots of resources, such as workshops, as well as the one-to-one support, which has really helped us to reshape our business plan and clarify our key growth objectives for the coming five years.

“We have our IT people here beginning to do the work. We are cracking on with that now. That is one of the key pieces of support.

A person using a laptop.

ICT funding has proven a ‘key piece’ of support as Focus has grown.

“It is going to enable us to work more efficiently and cohesively. We have quite big ambitions to grow our services beyond Hull and into the East Riding. The new IT is a big step towards that.”

Focus provides NHS counselling services to patients registered with a Hull GP, currently delivered in five locations across the city, and also supplies level one to three counselling training.

The firm provides employee wellbeing and staff counselling services to many of the region’s public sector organisations, including Hull City Council and East Riding Council, plus private businesses such as the University of Hull and Bishop Burton College.

“We have recently purchased a new premises in Beverley, which we are readying for launch in September,” said Phil. “It is a new facility with nine therapy rooms.  We are also looking to extend into west Hull and the outlying villages.

“The team were really good to work with. Our adviser Lewis in particular has been a great help, a really good guy to work with. He has given us different perspectives and help us formulate different perspectives. Personal relationships are so important. It was good to see Lewis on a one-to-one basis and he has become familiar with the business and our objectives.

“I joined Focus last September so I came from outside to support the directors with their ambition and take the business to the next stage. I came across an advert for the Growth Hub launch event and went along. I think for us, it has helped us to consolidate the ideas around where we would like to take the business and bring it together.”

Finance for Growth, ICT for Growth and the Business Growth Scheme are supported by the 2014 to 2020 European Regional Development Fund programme. These projects are delivered under the #GrowMySME programme by Humber Business Growth Hub and Hull City Council, in partnership with East Riding Council, North Lincolnshire Council, North East Lincolnshire Council and e-factor Group Ltd.

Learn more about the ITC for Growth scheme here.

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