Published: April 5, 2020 | Updated: April 5, 2020

Coronavirus update: Support Dorset, Mar-Key Group, Dorset Community Foundation, Hilton Bournemouth, Encore care homes, Barker

By Andrew Diprose, editor

Businessman launches new Support Dorset website

A new website backing Dorset businesses through these difficult times has been launched in the county.

Support Dorset – – is the brainchild of Weymouth businessman Alex Smith.

Businesses are encouraged to register for free on the site.

It also has a page allowing users to donate the money saved from their daily commute to a good cause.

Alex, pictured left, a Membership Advisor for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said: “The businesses of Dorset need the support of our community.

“So many people, families and businesses have been affected by COVID-19 and the closures that were necessary for all of our safety.

“Support Dorset is a place for us to get together, find the best way to support our favourite local businesses and initiatives and do our bit to strengthen our community.”

Alex is the owner of Nettl of Weymouth, a web design studio, and also Managing Director of Ltd, an online retailer/brand of self-adhesive vinyl stickers.

He said: “Basically I’m identifying that a lot of businesses are having to do things differently.

“The site aims to make people in Dorset aware of how local businesses are adapting and pivoting at these times.

“Also as we are commuting less, there should be more money in people’s wallets.

“We’re trying to encourage people to give that little extra they have to needy Dorset charities that have seen huge cuts in their funding and operations.”

The FSB has about 165,000 members nationally and 3,500 in the Dorset area.


Marquee company provides support to NHS and core businesses

Mar-Key Group, the Bournemouth-based temporary structure company, is using its resources to assist the NHS and other core businesses supplying vital services around the UK.

In the last fortnight alone, the business has installed a temporary reception area at Southampton General Hospital and begun the build of a temporary drive-through testing centre in Shrewsbury.

More work is being received each day.

Ben Scroggie, Group Chief Executive Officer, pictured right, said: “As all of our temporary structures are in component parts, it’s very easy for us to re-purpose them to provide a fast solution to those who need us most right now.

“This includes the NHS with drive-thru treatment facilities and pharmacy collection points, but also food retailers who need extra storage and warehouses to cope with increased demand.”

Operating nationwide, this time of year would usually see Mar-Key Group in full preparation for a busy event season.

Instead, the company is making contact with supermarkets and suppliers around the country to offer operational support during what is proving to be one of their busiest ever trading periods.

David Tabb, Chairman, said: “As the only British manufacturer of temporary structures, we have such a diverse range of capabilities to assist in times like these.

“We can design and make anything from basic wet weather covers to insulated buildings that can stay in situ for 25 years or more.

“We have kit on the shelf ready to be deployed on the same day if necessary.

“We are offering discounted rates to anyone who requires our services as a direct result of COVID-19 so hope that we can continue to support the NHS and many other businesses through these difficult times.”


Dorset Community Foundation launches coronavirus appeal

Dorset Community Foundation, a local foundation supporting those most in need across the county, has launched a Dorset Coronavirus Community Appeal.

The appeal will support local charities and community groups who are at the frontline of supporting vulnerable local residents affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The foundation, in partnership with the National Emergencies Trust, local and national charitable trusts and individual donations, has already secured nearly £100,000 within days of setting up the vital initiative.

It is working around the clock to ensure grants are awarded quickly to those that need it the most.

However, due to the unprecedented scale of the virus outbreak and the effects on vulnerable people, the foundation is calling for more support from local companies, charitable trusts and individuals.

Grant Robson, Foundation Director, said: “We are so pleased that we were able to quickly respond to an escalating situation and support charities and community groups who are on the frontline, working tirelessly supporting our vulnerable individuals across Dorset.

“Grants of up to £5,000 are being given right now.

“We have already had a never-seen-before level of demand for funding so we are asking local organisations and people, who feel able to get involved and be part of a collective response for Dorset and their communities.’

If you wish to donate to the Dorset Coronavirus Community Appeal, please visit

Alternatively, you can also donate via BACS or bank transfer:

For more details on donating and the funding available for charities and community groups, please visit


Hilton Bournemouth donates food to Encore care homes

Residents at Encore care homes were delighted to receive food donated by Hilton Bournemouth.

Hilton Bournemouth was one of many hotels and food outlets that had to close last week due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Encore’s Fiona Radford with (centre) Matt Budden, Executive Chef, Hilton Bournemouth, and Jon Fisher, Director of Sales, Hilton Bournemouth.

Instead of throwing away the fresh food, they chose to donate it to the Encore care homes in Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole, so residents could enjoy it.

Delivery drivers from the care homes collected the food supplies with the remaining items, where possible, going to the local foodbank.

Fiona Radford, Sales and Marketing Director at Encore care homes, said: “It’s been wonderful to receive this kind gesture of fresh food.

“Our own suppliers are working hard to keep us well stocked and this will give our residents more to enjoy during this challenging time.”

Jon Fisher, Director of Sales of Hilton Bournemouth, said: “With the current situation, it wouldn’t be responsible to let our food go to waste.

“We’ve provided food for our staff and recognised the needs of the wider community.”

Encore care homes have purpose-built care homes supporting residents with residential, nursing and dementia care.

The Encore family includes Fairmile Grange in Christchurch, Oakdale in Poole and Great Oaks in Bournemouth.


Barker shifts to collection and delivery service

Dorset-based Barker has extended its contactless dry cleaning and laundry services.

The company, which is the UK’s largest domestic laundry and a leading specialist dry cleaner, has seen its turnover more than halve in the current crisis.

More than 40 per cent of staff are now on the government’s furlough scheme.

Matthew Barker, Managing Director, pictured left, said: “We already provide a private laundry service across Greater London and southern England to approximately 3,500 customers, providing a weekly collection and delivery laundry service.

“In the current coronavirus pandemic we have decided to extend our collection and delivery services.

“Maintaining a clean environment is more important than ever to protect our health and we urge clients and potential clients to use our services to help eliminate the risk of catching and spreading COVID -19.

“There is much ongoing research currently being undertaken to establish the temperature at which the virus is killed, albeit this is currently undetermined.

“In our dry cleaning process and our ‘fully finished’ laundry service process we subject fabrics to way in excess of 60 degrees celsius and are confident that these temperatures are sufficient to kill the virus.

“I believe that after three weeks of significant cost cutting across the whole of the business that we have achieved a survivable situation and that we will still be here for years to come.”