Digital Skills Support available for SMES across Cornwall

Creating and growing a successful business takes more than a great idea or a new product, in today’s digital world this often involves using the internet and social media to promote your work. 

Photo – Grow Digital Business Workshop.

Set up to research and develop new digital skills training to help local small and medium sized businesses to grow, the Grow Digital Cornwall (GDC) project provides courses on a wide range of topics, from IT and digital design, to building websites, and social media marketing. 

 Funded by the European Social Fund, GDC is one of the many projects delivered as part of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Growth Programme to help people develop new skills and qualifications so they can progress their careers or find employment. 

 Based in West Cornwall, Katy Teare is one of the many thousands of people who have learnt new digital skills to help promote their business through GDC. Proud owner of “What Katy Stitched”, Katy Teare runs sewing classes and workshops for adults and also has an online shop for the items she hand sews using new, vintage and recycled fabrics. 

 Having always been passionate about sewing, Katy set up her new business in 2018 when her twins were at nursery. “It really happened by accident,” she laughed. “I started doing weekly sewing and craft sessions with the three and four year olds at the nursery, which then led to doing sessions for Mums and grandparents. I loved sharing my skills with other people and so ‘What Katy Stitched’ was born.” 

For Katy a big part of the attraction of sewing, and especially hand sewing, is the way it has helped her with her own mental health and wellbeing. “I know what a difference it has made to my life and I want to offer other people a way to switch off and relax as well as learning a new skill.” 

Confident about using social media such as Facebook and Instagram in her personal life, Katy found using it to promote her business was totally different and found herself struggling. She also knew she needed a website and could not afford to pay someone to build it for her. 

“Luckily I had worked for a number of projects which had received EU funding, and had previously completed some Work Routes courses so was aware that there was support available. Having done some research I discovered Grow Digital Cornwall.” 

After initially attending a “Using Facebook for Business course”, Katy completed a number of other GDC courses which have enabled her to build her own website and set up and manage Instagram and Pinterest sites, and, more recently, joined GDC’s Shopify course which has given her the skills to build an online shop. Although Katy had worked hard to successfully develop her new skills during 2019, just as she was planning to take her business to the next stage, her husband became very ill, leading to a spell in hospital and a long period of recovery. While he is now much better, COVID -19 and the challenges of home schooling then arrived. 

With her twins now back at school Katy is ready for the next steps and is incredibly grateful for the support she has received from Grow Digital Cornwall. “Taking part in the courses has given me confidence to be myself as well as learning the digital skills I need to grow my business,” she said. “I would not have my website without GDC and I am looking forward to using what I have learnt to expand my business.” 

 Delivering until May 2021, Grow Digital Cornwall recently launched a new apprenticeship scheme. For more information visit: www.growdigitalcornwall.co.uk