One stop shop for free business support a hit with local companies




Local companies took to the Maltings this Tuesday [8th March] for what was a very successful first pop up business surgery.

The free event in Ely, which took place from 8.30am until midday, was organised by Signpost to Grow of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in conjunction with East Cambridgeshire District Council. Around 20 business owners attended.

The purpose of the event was to provide free, independent advice to local companies who are looking for support to grow.

Neil Darwin, Chief Executive of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP, said: "Signpost 2 Grow has been developed to connect businesses with the help, support and funding they need to grow - a principle our team of Navigators and local experts put into action today in Ely. 

"This is the first time we have hosted Pop Up Business Surgeries in Ely, and we were pleased to have been able to help so many businesses with their queries, ranging from HR concerns through to funding enquiries.”

Advice was on hand from Metro Bank, Price Bailey, NWES, face2face HR, Signpost 2 Grow and East Cambridgeshire District Council’s Business Team. Companies were allocated 30-minute slots with each advisor; however, some of these had to be extended, as they were proving so useful.

The Ely Markets Team was also present at the Maltings as part of the “Destination Digital - Women in Business” event (including a social media workshop supported by Cambridgeshire County Council), which was running in parallel with the Signpost 2 Grow business surgery. 

The team, who were promoting Ely Markets as a great place to start a business, spoke to many of the participants about the number of business success stories Ely Markets has produced and how they could begin their business on the market in the same way.

Lauren Yearn, owner of Ditsy Daisy – a start-up business selling traditional bakes and reserves, stated: “The whole event is really interesting. It brings together a range of different people in one room that can help you with advice on grants, accounting, HR, social media and more. It’s ideal to have all of this advice under one roof, so that you are able to get the information you need to help your business grow and move forward.”

East Cambridgeshire District Council has been supporting Mrs Yearn from the start, helping her to make the transition from her kitchen to a unit at Littleport (through securing business grants), where she is now able to manufacturer on a much larger scale to expand her business.

Someone else who had praise for the event was Zahid Ahmed, owner of Slyhet Restaurant in Ely. He added: “It’s definitely been very useful. I’ve learnt new things, particularly about HR and what needs to be done in a business. Hopefully I can now implement this. I was able to share my problem, and I was then advised of a technique that that will solve this issue and benefit my staff. In future, I now know where to go for further business support.”

Advisors, too, were pleased with how successful the event had been. Sergio Aschettino, Senior Business Advisor for NWES said that out of eight people he’d seen that morning, half of them had booked a second appointment for further business support.

With more businesses getting the valuable advice they need to grow, it can only serve to benefit those companies and the district as a whole. 

Councillor Steve Cheetham, business champion at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “This was an extremely well-organised event, which proved highly beneficial for the business owners that attended. I very much hope they can use the advice they received to build their companies and enjoy further success, and to become even greater assets for their communities as well as the district.

“Helping businesses to grow is a priority of the Council and something we will continue to actively support.”   

Signpost 2 Grow now looks forward to helping even more local businesses in the future via its website,, as well as through its helpline and events.