We had a successful year despite the challenges of a pandemic and economic recession. What is also clear is that within these tough challenges and going into 2021, significant opportunities will emerge. The art is to prepare and to grasp those opportunities.

These challenges have created tough times in many ways for both people and businesses.

Out of all this adversity, as a group of volunteers with limited cash resources, we have made some significant progress. Thanks to the help of my co-directors, stakeholders and especially the generous cash and in-kind support from the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, without which our operations would have been severely curtailed.

Our experience over the year has shown that next year is going to be just as challenging, with rising unemployment and tightening cash flow. There are some good businesses and people in the region, some unlucky to be in sectors severely exposed to the impact of the pandemic and recession. This is exemplified by those at the Open North Foundation, seeking cash and in-kind support for ailing but otherwise viable businesses and all of those that are generously giving such support, in stringent times.

There are some poor examples of businesses either by force of circumstance, or by design seeking to capitalise on other’s misfortune. As an active mediator, I am seeing cases where it is not the case of can’t pay but won’t pay to bolster cash flow. These examples have led NIBE to campaign in the New Year to challenge businesses to pay fairly, whether it is employment terms, or contract terms.

Our theme will be ‘holding on to ethics in tough times’ and we ask that all who empathise with this to rally to our challenge to businesses and show their support by maintaining reasonable business practices.

We welcome your support by comments in blogs, twitter, LinkedIn and communication to your network…we would like to hear from you.

With our best wishes for Christmas and the New Year, we trust it will be a happy, healthy and prosperous one for you all.

Kevan Carrick – Chair, North East Initiative on Business Ethics Limited