A community project that has helped 20 residents kick-start their own businesses has been nominated for a top housing award.

The ‘Bright Idea’ project, which supports tenants with business start-ups, will go head to head with four other organisations, at the Northern Housing Consortiums’ Silver Screen Awards.

‘Bright Idea’ is led by social landlords Contour Homes and Peak Valley Housing Association, both part of Symphony Housing Group. The landlords have teamed up with Blue Orchid, the largest provider in business start-up support in the North West, to help support residents find work.

So far, more than 100 tenants have signed up to the programme, with 20 businesses now trading, ranging from garden maintenance, through to confectionary and holistic therapy companies.

Once signed up, tenants are given access to a dedicated business advisor, and offered one-to-one support and advice on business planning, finance and marketing.

Andrea D’Avanzo, regeneration investment officer at Symphony Housing Group, said: ‘Through Bright Idea we are providing an extra layer of support for tenants wishing to start their own business, which can be an exciting, but sometimes daunting time for them.’

Janine Hague, business advisor from Blue Orchid said: ‘We meet people at all stages of considering self-employment.  Some have a comprehensive business plan and need support in the last hurdle of formally setting up, others simply have a seed of an idea they’d like to explore further.  We can also help small companies who want to grow their business.’

Now in their seventh year, the awards celebrate the success of community projects taking place across the North West.

The ‘Bright Idea’ initiative has been shortlisted in the Tenant Enterprise category, for its commitment to “supporting tenants to become more entrepreneurial”.

Contour Homes tenant, Hashim Gobe, owner of Hash’s Tailoring, Oldham, set up his business in June 2013. Hashim said: ‘I’m really pleased ‘Bright Idea’ has been shortlisted for an award.

‘They are really friendly and helpful – I did a course in digital marketing to help support my business.’

A film will now be made to showcase each of the shortlisted entries, and winners will be announced at the Northern Silver Screen Awards dinner, at the Royal Armouries in Leeds on 6th November.

Meanwhile, residents signed up to ‘Bright Idea’ will gather together to share their stories, and new business owners will have the opportunity to showcase their ‘Bright Ideas’ at the iconic Manchester Craft and Design Centre.

As well as Contour Homes and Peak Valley residents benefiting, Bright Idea is also working with residents living in Brunswick, Manchester, the area is being transformed by S4B regeneration partnership, which includes Contour Homes.

If you would like more information about ‘Bright Idea’, please contact Janine Hague on 07880 253004 or email [email protected] (quote ‘Bright Idea’).

The business exhibition will take place on Tuesday 14th October at the Manchester Craft and Design Centre – 7 Oak St, Manchester, M4 5JD (12noon – 2pm)