As you’ve no doubt heard from your media channels of choice, small businesses have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown. While some companies, Petty’s included, have found a way to pivot quickly and offer their services in a different fashion, others have been left wondering what’s hit them.

These businesses are often at the heart of our community. Small firms that go about their work without fuss or fanfare, yet they’re always there when you need them. Plumbers, shopkeepers, electricians, plasterers...the list is a lengthy one.

Alongside keeping Petty’s going, the team and I have been racking our brains over how we can help locals through this extremely testing time. For those who’ve been keeping up, we’ve already opened up our property management service to the general public in the form of PSP HomeCare.

This service was only available to landlords until a couple of weeks ago and we’ve already successfully paired up a few local residents in need of help with trustworthy and reliable contractors, but we know we can do more...especially for those small business owners who really do need help, support, and guidance at the moment.

Introducing CBI - the Community Business Initiative

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So, here’s what we’ve come up with...the Community Business Initiative, or CBI for short (not to be confused with the Confederation of British Industry!). The idea behind this scheme is to help any small, local business through difficult times with solid advice, information, and practical instruction from professionals who can truly make a difference. 

For example, everyone knows that getting their business online in some shape or form would be beneficial, but some may struggle with the nuts and bolts of actually doing so. It can seem like a major headache to someone who isn’t particularly au fait with the ways of the Web, yet with the correct counsel even the biggest technophobe can overcome those self-imposed barriers.

Or how about the local contractor who could dramatically cut costs and increase callouts by offering live issue diagnosis via video if only they had someone who could teach them how to use the required software to get started?

Small businesses now have to think and act differently in order to survive. However, for many, the prospect of doing so by themselves may simply be too overwhelming. It’s our hope that with the introduction of the Community Business Initiative, the feeling of being alone as an owner of a small firm will be a thing of the past.

In short, we’re here to help.

What makes us qualified to start such an initiative?

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As a business owner myself, I know exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes. Jenny and I took over Petty Son and Prestwich immediately after the 2008 financial crisis, despite being repeatedly told that we couldn’t make it work. We did.

We’ve also gone through several other ups and downs that few could foresee, with Brexit being chief among them. Again, we were told that our business model would struggle through the lean times and lengthy stagnation of the property market, yet we came through that episode stronger than ever.

Now we’re facing another unprecedented situation with the coronavirus outbreak. There’s no playbook for this one, as no one has experienced anything of this magnitude before, but I’m confident we will make it to the other side simply because we’ve been through tough times before and won. I want to help you feel the same way.

I strongly believe in the power of small, local businesses and would hate to see anyone go to the wall simply because they didn’t have the guidance required to get through this. We need to pull together right now, helping those around us wherever we can. 

All of us here at Petty’s are ready to do just that.

What to expect from the CBI

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As I’m sure you can imagine, this is an idea that is evolving by the hour. The seed of the CBI has only just been sown, but I’m really excited about the potential impact it could have on small businesses owners, their lives, and the wider community.

To kick things off, we have the brilliant Amanda Campbell holding an online social media workshop on Friday May 1st at 1pm. Amanda has a wealth of experience in this area and loves
teaching others the social ropes.

amanda campbell

The agenda includes:

  •  What platform is best for your business?
  •  How to find your “voice” on social 
  •  Intro to Facebook 
  •  Setting up a Facebook business page
  •  What and how to post on Facebook
  •  Tips on curating content 
  •  Intro to Instagram
  •  Setting up an Instagram business page 
  •  What and how to post on Instagram 
  •  How to take your learning further 


Amanda will finish up with a Q&A session, so you’ll be able to clarify anything you’re unsure of there and then. The workshop will be conducted via Zoom and will run for around 90 minutes. Here's the link you'll need to access the event:

It should be a lot of fun, so we really hope you can join us!

Can you help?

CBI needs you

Naturally, the scope of this initiative is pretty broad, so we’re calling on you to help. I’m sure you’ve felt exactly the same as we have over the last few weeks, itching to do something yet not knowing quite how to get involved.

Now’s your chance.

We’re looking for individuals with experience in fields such as graphic design, digital literacy, video conferencing, creativity, business innovation, and more to spare an hour or two to teach and offer guidance to local business owners where required.

So, if you’re finding yourself with a little extra time on your hands at present and would like to help out, drop me a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Alternatively, if you can’t help out directly yourself, please share this post on all of your social media channels so we can reach the greatest number of people possible to make this happen. 

Knowing Wanstead as I do, I know you’ll come through on this one.

Stay safe, stay well, stay positive,

John Wagstaff MNAEA, MARLA,

Managing Director