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BECBC End of Year Message - 2020

'Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth' - Muhammad Ali.

What it meant to be a Cluster in 2020 and what we have learned for 2021.

2020 will be a year remembered in our history, like 1066 or 1914, historians with the benefit of hindsight will offer conclusions as to what it meant to civilisation, both globally as well as at the local level. Most of the focus will be on the devastating health and economic impacts of the coronavirus as well as the loss of civil liberties, but what might they say about humanity? Did we stand up to be counted? Was it a watershed moment of change? Was it the start of something new, when people really began to reconnect with each other and the communities within which they live, trade and work?

If a historian were to focus on Cumbria, I would hope they see what we in BECBC have been privileged to witness, our members faced with the most severe adversity putting their people and local community first. This was achieved at the same time as keeping the lights on, keeping the nation secure and delivering vital services when they were needed most. It would be remiss of me not to call out Sellafield Ltd, delivering a nationally significant mission but still quick to act in a variety of ways to protect their valued supply chain. Then there were the movements that literally sprung up overnight to ensure that frontline workers had access to life saving PPE, such as the amazing Scrub Hub, how they managed this, in lock-down, I do not know, but it gave me hope when I needed it most. Our SME members have also been outstanding, keeping their doors open and their people employed, in some cases even growing and diversifying to meet the needs of new market conditions- a timely reminder of how vital this innovative section of business is to our economy.

I'm sure that a writer of the future would see that the pandemic was as unbalanced in its impact on business as the virus was to individuals. In many ways a lottery, some of the best businesses in our area were forced to close their doors, through no fault of their own and then opened them again, only to have to close once more. Their resilience, like those who we clapped for week after week, deserves our utmost respect, but more than respect, for those less impacted by the pandemic it is a time to show support through spending, trade and partnership- thinking local has never been more important. Copeland Council with their Shop Local initiative and Cumbrias Me are two great examples in this shift in local emphasis, I'm confident that we will see more of this in 2021.

So looking forward, BECBC in 2021 will build on the positives of this turning point in history. Never before has trade been so important and therefore all of our activities will be centred on enhancing the trading environment for our members whilst delivering on social value. This includes continuing and improving our range of digital events, which we pivoted to overnight, thanks to our friends at A-Digital. We are also preparing for socially-LESS distanced events, when allowed, which will also blend the best of digital engagement to be as flexible as possible. Keeping an eye on the future we will continue to provide our support to the new Invest In Cumbria Alliance which aims to capitalise on Her Majesty's Government's vision for Green Growth and Levelling-Up in the North.

As the year draws to a close, we at BECBC wish you all a safe and healthy holiday period and we look forward to being together again in 2021.