Peer Networks Programme

The Black Country Growth Hub, with the support of the UK Metals Council, is launching the Peer Networks Programme for ambitious businesses looking to grow. This programme is part of a government funded peer to peer networking initiative for SME businesses to develop their organisations for future success.


The Black Country Growth Hub provides support to businesses and entrepreneurs of any size, sector or status across Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. Through this training programme the Growth Hub plans to widen and strengthen the business networks of participants, as well as expand their skills across a range of business areas.


For the metals sector, the peer to peer programme is being run by the UK Metals Council, a representative organisation made up from Trade Associations from the full spectrum of the UK metals industry, which in turn comprises 11,100 companies, employing around 230,000 people and which directly contributes £10.7bn to UK GDP. Many of these companies are based in the West Midlands and for the metals sector the new programme will be called the Black Country Business Growth Network.


The training is based on interactive action learning and will bring together groups of business owners or managers operating in the aerospace, construction, health & care, metals & materials or rail sectors. The training opportunities vary widely including Finance, HR, Sales and Marketing, Business Model Innovation, Change Management, but also highly relevant areas such as adjusting to social distancing, digital technology adoption, use of data to drive value in the business, EU transition, Net zero in relation to the West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy.


With trained facilitators, these group sessions will help participants to overcome business challenges, recognise and act on new opportunities and create a trusted support network and improve personal and business performance.


Dr Pam Murrell, CEO of the Cast Metals Federation who are just one of the members of the UKMC said: “We recognise that our member companies, all of whom are within the metals sector, are in a very dynamic business environment and face many challenges presently, so we are pleased to be part of this pilot project which is seeking to share knowledge and inform via a peer to peer training programme, initially within the Black Country region.”


Novel and key to this programme will be the groups self-determination about the areas where they want to focus their learning to heighten the learning for everyone through integration and discussion around individual experiences. Additionally, the training is in a format so that new, long-lasting and engaged business networks are created.


Chris McDonald, CEO of the Materials Processing Institute and Chair of UK Metals Council added: “‘We know that businesses learning from businesses is the fastest way to spread good practice and improve.  In partnering with the Black Country LEP, the UK Metals Council is enabling growth and development of this vital UK manufacturing sector, in one of its heartland areas.”


Tom Jones, CEO from ALFED, agreed saying, “I am optimistic that the added-value that can come from the networking, that is the innovative part of this project, will really enhance what we can deliver to those who participate.”


UKMC has been successful in being awarded a contract to deliver the Peer to Peer Networks on behalf of the Black Country Consortium Growth Hub.


The training program will commence on the 8th Dec and will conclude on the 30th March.  It is designed to be highly interactive and engaging to ensure that all attendees get the maximum from it they can get.



The programme is limited to SME companies in the Black Country area (the Black Country covers Metropolitan Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton).  Post code checker at GOV UK can be used to check eligibility.


These SMEs must meet the following criteria:

  • Operated for at least one year
  • At least five employees
  • A turnover of at least £100,000
  • An aspiration to improve


The project requires UKMC to:

  • Develop a programme of at least nine workshops lasting at least two hours taking place no more frequently than once every other week in collaboration with the SMEs recruited onto the cohort.  For guidance, these workshops could cover:  Finance; HR; Sales and Marketing; Adjusting to social distancing; Business Model Innovation; Change Management; Embedding formal management processes and systems; Digital (including adoption and implementation of technology, cyber security); Use of data to drive value in the business; EU transition; Net zero
  • Attendance at any of the workshops should not drop below 11 SMEs (so we shall need to recruit at least 2 each!).
  • Provide at least 3.5 hours one to one coaching/mentoring per participant (potentially leveraging existing mentoring provision through additional schemes available through the Black Country LEP Growth Hub).




Photo caption: Peer to Peer Network for Black Country SMEs in the Metals Sector

For more information and to register visit the Black Country Business Growth Network or contact Vic Williams. 

Vic Williams, The Audacious Company

Contact: +44 7986262496


Timescales are tight as the provisional dates for the one hour sessions are: start date 8th December, then every second week through to the last one on the 30th March 2021. Therefore: 8th Dec, 5th Jan, 2nd Feb, 16th Feb, 2nd March, 16th March and finally 30th March.