The Co-operative Bank hosts free webinar on supporting SME business to thrive post pandemic

14 September 2021

5 min read

The Co-operative Bank and its partners, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, AXA Insurance and Assurant, are hosting a free webinar on 22 September 2021 from 11.00am-12.00pm to share guidance and support about how SMEs can rebuild and protect their business post pandemic.

The last 18 months have been challenging for businesses, big and small, and as we start to adapt to whatever our new normal is, it is important businesses consider all their options and think through what they might need to do differently to ensure they not only survive, but thrive in this new trading environment. The Co-operative Bank together with experts from AXA Insurance and Assurant will host a webinar that will explore:

  • The ending of furlough and the impact on HR
  • EU settlement grants and how to apply
  • IT security and fraud – how to stay safe in an agile working environment
  • Staying one step ahead of the latest fraud scams
  • Tips for rebuilding post the pandemic
  • The importance of fostering equality, culture and diversity in the workplace

As well as the discussion points above an expert panel will be available to answer any specific questions during a Q&A session. Panel members include;

  • Maria Cearns, Managing Director for customer and people at The Co-operative Bank. Maria will talk about the importance of promoting equality, culture and diversity in the workplace and also how to foster a positive and co-operative culture despite many employees working from home.
  • Debbie Jenkinson a fraud specialist and education leader at The Co-operative Bank. Debbie will give an insight into current fraud and scams, how criminals are targeting businesses and how to stay protected as businesses mix office and home working now restrictions are easing.
  • Gerry Donnachie, Head of Underwriting and Pricing for AXA Insurance. Gerry will use his 35 years of commercial insurance underwriting experience to provide guidance on what businesses should think about in order to stay well protected in the aftermath of the pandemic so businesses can remain resilient in the future.
  • Josh Beasley, Vice-President of Global business development at Assurant. Josh’s expertise covers manufacturing, supply-chain and aftersales gained through his previous roles in Service & Fulfilment and Financial Services sectors. Josh will draw on his specialist experience working globally in Strategy & Business Development across both B2C and B2B channels.

Our panel of experts from The Co-operative Bank, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, AXA Insurance and Assurant will provide guidance on how businesses can thrive post-pandemic, including changes in legislation, the ending of furlough and the impact these changes will have when we finally return to the workplace. We'll also cover the importance of data security and fraud, and how to stay protected when combining office and remote working.

Maria Cearns, Managing Director of Customer and People at The Co-operative Bank said; “Absolutely the last 18 months have been challenging for SME businesses, but that could now be turned into an opportunity for businesses to really reflect on what has and hasn’t been working for them and can they now make changes for the better as they move forward. How businesses support their workforce and facilitate them to work in a more agile and flexible way will be really important and something that could shift the dial in a business’s success.”

Gerry Donnachie, Head of Underwriting & Pricing, AXA Business Insurance said; “In research recently carried out by AXA, we have explored, in depth, the importance of SMEs to the economy. The findings have shown just how resilient and adaptable these businesses are and how opportunities have been harnessed even in the most challenging of times. As one of the largest insurers of SMEs in the UK, AXA welcomes this opportunity to discuss the role of insurance in protecting businesses as they evolve to meet the challenges of a post-pandemic economy.”

A spokesperson from Assurant said “There are approximately 5.9 million SMEs in the UK today, they account for 99.9% of the total business population employing around 16.8 million people. The SME segment truly is the backbone of our economy which is why it is so important to support this area of the market – now more than ever as challenges from lockdown play through. It’s fantastic to be able to share and support this initiative, providing crucial information and insight to help these businesses not just survive, but thrive.”

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce said; “The Covid-19 pandemic affected businesses and the economy like no other crisis. At the same time, the pandemic has created new opportunities and forced SMEs to innovate. As Greater Manchester's SMEs recover from the worst impact of the pandemic, they will benefit from having trusted partners who can help them overcome lingering challenges and make use of new opportunities. As the largest business representative organisation in the North West, the Chamber is pleased to partner with The Co-operative Bank, AXA Insurance and Assurant to deliver this business webinar. We are confident that it will enable SMEs to understand the current business landscape and how they can recover, rebuild, and grow in a post-pandemic world."

To register for this free event please visit:
Welcome | Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce (
Registration closes on Wednesday 15 September 2021.


Media Contacts
Nicki Parry
The Co-operative Bank
Tel: 0773 400 2983 Email: 

Dan Chadwick
The Co-operative Bank
Tel: 0772 470 1319 Email: 

About The Co-operative Bank
The Co-operative Bank plc provides a full range of banking products and services to retail and SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) customers and is committed to values and ethics in line with the principles of the co-operative movement.

The Co-operative Bank is the only high street bank with a customer-led ethical policy which gives customers a say in how their money is used. Launched in 1992, the Policy has been updated on five occasions, with new commitments added in January 2015 to cover how the Bank operates its business, products and services, workplace and culture, relationships with suppliers and other stakeholders and campaigning.

About Assurant

Assurant, Inc. (NYSE: AIZ) is a leading global provider of lifestyle and housing solutions that support, protect and connect major consumer purchases. Anticipating the evolving needs of consumers, Assurant partners with the world’s leading brands to develop innovative products and services and to deliver an enhanced customer experience. A Fortune 500 company with a presence in 21 countries, Assurant offers mobile device solutions; extended service contracts; vehicle protection services; renters insurance; lender-placed insurance products; and other specialty products. The Assurant Foundation strengthens communities by supporting charitable partners that help protect where people live and can thrive, connect with local resources, inspire inclusion and prepare leaders of the future.

Learn more at or on Twitter @AssurantNews.

About the AXA Group
The AXA Group is a worldwide leader in insurance and asset management, with 160,000 employees serving 108 million clients in 57 countries. In 2019, IFRS revenues amounted to Euro 103.5 billion and underlying earnings to Euro 6.5 billion. AXA had Euro 974 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2019.

In the UK & Ireland, AXA operates through a number of business units including: AXA Insurance, AXA Health and AXA Ireland. AXA UK & Ireland employs around 10,000 staff.

The AXA ordinary share is listed on compartment A of Euronext Paris under the ticker symbol CS (ISN FR 0000120628 – Bloomberg: CS FP – Reuters: AXAF.PA). AXA’s American Depository Share is also quoted on the OTC QX platform under the ticker symbol AXAHY.

The AXA Group is included in the main international SRI indexes, such as Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and FTSE4GOOD.

It is a founding member of the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Principles for Sustainable Insurance and a signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.

For more information see AXA's Corporate Responsibility strategy and SRI ratings.


The Co-operative Bank Press Office

Landline: 0151 271 1985

Not found what you're looking for?

Contact our support team