Lyn Hamblin talks about the Business School's role in the Elephant and Castle regeneration
We recently caught up with Lyn Hamblin, one of LSBU’s leads on Commercial Student Experience and Applied Learning for LSBU Business School.
We understand you have been heavily involved with helping traders in Elephant and Castle through the process of relocating and modernising during the ongoing regeneration plans for the area?
Yes, with my work with the Business School I’ve been lucky enough to be able to work so closely with the traders and local businesses. It adds a sense of realism to my job – a pillar of our university and a key part of our mission is to have a real-world impact. We are helping real people in our local community and are trying to give what we can to people.
Who do you work with in your role?
I work with Tree Shepherd, a philanthropic organisation run by Colin Crooks MBE, to ensure the sometimes difficult process of regeneration ensures the best situation for the people involved, as well as the traders in the local area due to be changed in the coming years.
How many traders are there?
There are around 70 traders and local businesses of so many kinds!
What kind of help did you offer?
We offered as much help as we could to facilitate the move and the changes coming to their business. One of the first steps was to offer classes and workshops with advice that they all utilise. We ran financial workshops – we would advise on anything from business accounting and balance sheets to bookkeeping. These workshops were open to all the traders and offered a utility that we hoped all of them could use in the coming months.
Did lockdown affect these sessions?
These were run before and during lockdown – we used Zoom to make sure our promise to the local community was upheld even during, and perhaps especially, the lockdown. It isn’t an easy time for the local businesses, and so it was so important that we continued to help wherever we could.
So it was financial sessions offered by the Business School for the most part?
Not at all! As well as the financial workshops and evening sessions offering business advice (to fit in with the often hectic work schedules of the traders!), students from the Business School undertook footfall projects in 11 different locations. This means we were helping with looking forwards to physical location as a fundamental asset to their business, rather than just financial knowhow.
We tried to get beyond this though – we also tried to offer deeper and more personalised advice. We produced spreadsheets allowing users to input their own figures and work out exact finances for their own business. We wanted to provide as much personalised help as possible as there’s never really a one-size-fits-all answer, especially not to such unique local businesses.
What kind of personalised of help did you offer?
As well as financial support , we would offer bespoke advice to the traders. There were follow up sessions to a lot of the workshops if any clarity was needed or specific questions needed to be answered, but our help with their business plans was probably some of the work we were most proud of. We advised the traders to give themselves honest evaluations of their incomes and to make sure they had accounted for their own salaries and time put into their work. We would work through individual business plans in order to grow their businesses, and in some cases, to secure new premises.
How did you approach them?
It was sometimes a case of getting the traders to trust us – we're a university and so at times it may seem like we are elites, which is fundamentally against what we are trying to achieve. We are part of the community, a shared community, with common aims and often similar backgrounds. We are all part of this area’s rich and diverse history.
We do some amazing work and can help the transition of the area and ensure everyone can be treated honestly and fairly. We are all part of south London together, so we are here to help everyone that we can with our resources as a university, as well as a long-standing pillar of the area.
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