A PROGRAMME which is working to help increase the number of young people choosing to live and work in the area, has developed a virtual Christmas gift guide to support creative businesses struggling due to coronavirus.

Great Place: Lakes and Dales, which is funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund UK and Arts Council England decided to quickly turn-around a gift guide after tighter restrictions as part of a second national lockdown were announced by the government on October 31.

Lindsey Hebden, Programme Manager, said: “We knew that many people with creative businesses in the area, from artists and designers to restaurants and authors, were already struggling financially after a challenging year so we wanted to do something tangible to support them.

“The gift guide is a way for people to see how they can shop local in the Lakes and Dales easily and gives business owners another outlet to promote themselves. We hope people have fun using it to shop online this Christmas.”

A total of 18 businesses responded to call-outs on social media, including Rachel Thornton, an artist and print-maker based in High Bentham.

Rachel has been selling her work via her website and has had interest not just from the UK, but also from abroad.

“I didn’t sell from my website before the first lockdown but now, with craft fairs and art shows cancelled, it is my only source of income,” she said.

“Selling directly to my customers means I could take control over the way my work is represented and sold. I think it works well as there is also a huge amount of information about me, including projects and past works

“ I have enjoyed being able to sell directly to my customer anywhere in the UK at any time, and I have sold to customers overseas too. It’s great to have the opportunity to promote my work in a virtual gift guide and I hope people enjoy browsing it.”

To view the Gift Guide go to https://www.lakesanddales.org/gift-guide

Great Place: Lakes and Dales is one of 16 pilot projects in England and is focused on the rural corridor linking Skipton and Grasmere, including the market towns and rural hinterlands, extending into both the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks.