Elaine Le Montais, Business Connector in Burslem & Middleport

Prior to her secondment as a Business Connector Elaine was Head of Service at Midland Heart.

Business Connector Role Overview

As a pre-cursor to my arrival, a leaders dinner hosted jointly by Keele and Staffordshire University in February, set out the context of the wider Princes Charities agenda following the purchase of Middleport Pottery by HRH the Prince of Wales last year and a Seeing is Believing (SIB) visit took place in early March where we visited Stoke College and the Co-op Academy, which culminated in hearing from local businesses about their challenges and their ‘asks’.

I have engaged with all of the partners involved in these events and others too, and have been supported by the BITC Regional Director, Prince’s Regeneration Trust, the Place Project team and my hosts the Burslem Regeneration Company.

Good progress is being made, and more activities are now being delivered that are making a tangible difference. Some of the work that was still in development in June is now in delivery or coming to fruition. Importantly the number of beneficiaries is increasing as is the types of support offered.

Case study

Business Marketing Mentoring Sessions

I recruited business mentor Egan O'Callaghan during my second week in post. Egan has extensive business experience in a number of sectors, and he claims he invented the Curly Wurly! At the time that I came into the role, members of the Burslem Business Community (set up and facilitated by Carolyn Powell) had already identified a need to increase their marketing expertise. I set Egan to work with BBC members and he has been supporting them since the 3rd April

  • 10 sessions have been held
  • 24 businesses have been supported
  • 140 hours of expert business support have been provided


Kier Work Experience Placements

Kier Services were attendees at both the Princes Charities dinner in February and the SIB visit on 8th March. I met with David Mawson, MD as a follow up, and we explored a number of ways that Kier could be involved. David was particularly keen to create work experience opportunities for local people. To progress this I have been working with Jenny who had previously worked at the Chamber of Commerce, so she is au fait with this particular area of employment creation and was immediately on board. I also bought in an existing contact of mine, Vicky, from Staffs County Council. To complete the partnership, the work experience placements have been launched at Midland Heart Work Clubs.

As a result 4 new, 13 week work placements have been created, in the following areas;- 2 in the Stores, and 1 each in Reception and Facilities. I am confident that this project will develop into a rolling programme.

Stoke Free Style Kickboxing

Chris is a Live/Work customer of Midland Heart with a number of talents; he is an international competitor at martial arts, an artist and he designs and delivers community arts projects. Chris has recently set up a new gym at the YMCA in Hanley, launched on 7th June, and has received support in a number of ways to help his business in its embryonic stage. Following our meeting with Seddons, they confirmed on 4th July that they would support Chris’s gym with a donation of £500 for new kit and equipment.
I have provided advice and guidance on funding applications, PR & marketing and grants. Chris has also benefited from the marketing mentoring advice from Egan. Ervin Davis at Dudson has also met with Chris to think through his business plan and career progression and how it conflicts/supports Chris's personal goals.

Business Quote

"As a major housing provider in Stoke and in Burslem and Middleport in particular, we recognise the importance of forging strong links between businesses and the wider community. With her already extensive community links and experience of regeneration across the midlands, Elaine was the obvious choice to second across and we are delighted that the programme is going so well". Ruth Cooke, Chief Executive Officer, Midland Heart

Connector quote

"I was excited by the opportunity of making a difference in the communities of Middleport and Burslem and particularly by working alongside of the enormous creative talent that we have in the area. There is huge optimism locally to improve Burslem in a number of ways and to make it a place where people want to visit, live and work.
The companies I am working with are really supportive and want to foster growth and prosperity in the town as well as to inspire students to understand that manufacturing and engineering can offer them a successful career.

I have been able to use my skills and experience of working in the regeneration sector for some 14 years, and I am thoroughly enjoying working much more closely with the private sector than before". Elaine Le Montais