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Lloyds Banking Group has joined forces with the Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative (SFEDI) and charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, to launch a new enterprise mentoring qualification designed to support disabled entrepreneurs across the UK.

Fifteen representatives from Leonard Cheshire Disability will be the first to undertake the year-long package of support which has been specially designed by Lloyds Banking Group and SFEDI.

The programme’s aim is to provide the Leonard Cheshire Disability volunteers with the skills needed to become effective enterprise mentors, building on their previous experience of supporting disabled people in the workplace.

The first phase of the programme will take place on Wednesday 19 March in Birmingham, where mentors will receive training on the different approaches and methods to handling a mentoring relationship.

Speaking about the new partnership Jackie Jenks, senior manager, enterprise mentoring at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “The introduction of the new Lloyds sponsored training programme will benefit many disabled entrepreneurs across the UK. By teaming up with mentors who have had specific training mentoring disabled people, mentees will receive the tailored support that can help them achieve their goal of running a successful enterprise.”

The scheme also aims to provide sustainable business support to entrepreneurs by introducing them to other business leaders in their area through the Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking SME network. This will create a support system for entrepreneurs, allowing them to share tips and information about challenges facing businesses in their local community.

The new programme is part of Lloyds Banking Group’s commitment to the national mentoring scheme, an initiative launched by the five major high street banks in conjunction with the Business Finance Taskforce and the British Bankers Association. The aim of the scheme is to help the economy return to sustainable growth by training industry professionals to share their skills and experiences with business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Jackie added: “Mentoring can be a truly rewarding relationship and the specialist training and support given to the Leonard Cheshire Disability volunteers will not only benefit the mentees, but allow mentors to build on their existing skills and experiences in order to form fulfilling and effective relationships.”

Ruth Lowbridge, executive chair of the SFEDI Group, said: “Working with Lloyds Banking Group and Leonard Cheshire Disability on this project means that disabled entrepreneurs across the UK will receive specialist support from a mentor who truly understands the challenges they’re facing.”

Anita Maullin, head of customer support at Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: “The new mentoring programme is a unique and exciting opportunity for our volunteers to expand their existing skills and experiences.

“People with disabilities are still hugely under-represented in the workplace. This initiative will tap into a new resource of talent and skills, giving participants the confidence to strike out on their own and make their business a success.”