Welcome to the Sister Shout. A series of articles about our members and things that happen around Cheshire. In this issue of Sister Shout, we'll be chatting with Big Sister Samantha who runs Boulder Hut in Ellesmere Port. An incredible facility with an inspiring crowdfunding birth, Boulder Hut is a popular activity for adults and children alike. Serving delicious food in their on-site cafe and working hard to create a welcoming and inclusive community space.
Tell us about how your business was doing just before lockdown started, were there any plans
you had to put on hold?
Just before lockdown we had been trading for just over 1.5 years and business was going really well,
we were making plans to expand to another site.
How did you cope with lockdown? The personal toll has been so very hard on many of us,
especially when it comes to not being able to see family.
I’ve been blessed that my family and friends have not been seriously ill with Covid-19. I was also
really lucky that we have two non-executive directors who offered to keep the business ticking over so
I could be furloughed. The enforced rest of lockdown was just what I needed after a hectic start-up
How did you feel about the support on offer for businesses during lockdown? On a local level and a national level.
We were able to use the furlough scheme, obtained a bounce back loan and a local council discretionary grant. The schemes offered have been a lifeline and have enabled us to reopen.
Has the Coronavirus crisis changed your relationship with your customers? For the better or
I would say that, on the whole, we maintained our relationship with our customers through our social media channels whilst we were closed. We also had incredible customer support and many of our members continued to pay their monthly subscriptions to support us through the closure.
How are you handling the restrictions being lifted? Tell us about any changes you've made to
We’ve made lots of changes to our business to ensure that we’re Covid-19 secure. We have implemented temperature checks on arrival, socially distanced queuing, increased frequency of sanitising high touch surfaces, introduced bookable time slots, have a maximum capacity (which is well below the guidelines, so that our customers can socially distance themselves), our staff are working in teams on rotation, and we have sanitiser stations all around the centre. We’re fortunate that we have a huge building and massive shutter doors which we can open and get lots of airflow. Also, bouldering (climbing without ropes) is an activity where you’ve always had to be aware of the space and climbers around you, so having to make the space 2 metres doesn’t feel much different
Where would you like to see things this time next year?
This time next year, ideally Covid-19 will be a distant memory. For our business, I would like centre 2 to be on its way, if not already, born.
What do you hope to gain from your SisterHub network over the next 12 months?
Over the next 12 months I’d like to get to know my Sisters better and it would be fab to work with a sister on a project.
If you'd like to join SisterHub - click here
To learn more about the photographer of these amazing pictures - click here
Exciting, inclusive and unique! Feel confident and experience bouldering!