In the wake of Brexit why Cream becomes Crème
Unlike most people, I didn’t wake up to shock on Friday morning. I’d been wide awake until the result was announced just before 5am, transfixed to the TV screen as it became clearer and clearer that my fellow countrymen had decided to send shockwaves across the globe by choosing Brexit.
The shock had subsided by the time I woke up replaced by a sinking feeling of dread instead.
I was firmly in the Remain camp for numerous reasons, but an important one was the amount of EU cash Barnsley receives. Our decision to base in Barnsley came as a direct result of EU funding.
As a start-up wondering where to put down roots, we found Barnsley’s Digital Media Centre – a fabulous, shiny smart business centre built for creative and digital businesses. It was heavily funded by the EU.
We then discovered that we could access all sorts of business support. For free! For two business rookies like Jane and I, it was a godsend.
We had support with the legal stuff like employment contracts. We had superb mentors who kept us on track when things got a bit wobbly. We had help with a rebrand and a new website. And it was all down to those ‘dreadful, red tape-creating bureaucrats in Brussels.’
In the last four years, we’ve paid that back over and over again by contributing to local economy. We’ve paid thousands in tax, created jobs and helped our clients grow their businesses.
And now it looks like all that support which helps businesses like ours get started in Barnsley is going to be pulled away.
The Brexit campaigners persuaded the voters in towns like Barnsley to leave the EU. Now they have a duty to make sure Barnsley and other areas dependent on EU funding aren’t forgotten.
Since Friday, we’ve felt totally powerless here at Cream. But we’re not about to let the town that we call home go backwards. Barnsley has had its fair share of struggles over the years, but EU funding was helping to change all that. We want that change to continue.
Things are going to get rocky, and we understand that the government’s financial priorities are going to be widespread and there will be huge demands on the public purse, especially if we slip into recession. But we don’t want Barnsley to end up at the bottom of the priority list, as it so often does when it comes to Westminster.
So today, we launch our campaign to make sure that our politicians don’t forget about the problems Brexit might cause for towns like ours. The reason a lot of people voted for Brexit is because they felt ignored and left behind – that has to change.
We will be doing our bit by putting pressure on the government (whoever that might turn out to be), garnering the support of other businesses and communicating what Barnsley needs as much as we can.
As a first step, we’ve decided to change our name. For a while, Cream will become Crème to acknowledge the fact that our European neighbours have been intrinsic to our success.
We were proud to be part of the EU – and we’re immensely grateful for the helping hand it gave us.
Footnote: Some of you are probably wondering why we didn’t make more noise about the way the EU helped us before last Thursday’s vote. Me too. It wouldn’t have changed the result – but it might have made more people in Barnsley aware of just what they were prepared to lose.
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