J & K Training

J and K training in Bishop Auckland has been a client of Mullen Stoker since the business was founded 11 years ago.

Here owner Ann Johnson explains why the support she’s had from Mullen Stoker has been invaluable in her business being able to continue successfully operating during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ann Johnson, owner of J and K Training in Bishop Auckland, has worked with Mullen Stoker from their inception in 2010.

Initially providing the company with accountancy and payroll support, it was the IT assistance Ann and the team received during the coronavirus pandemic which has proved most invaluable.

Ann, whose business delivers Maths and English qualifications predominantly to people who have struggled to find employment, alongside managed contracts with the likes of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, said: “Mullen Stoker have been great since day one.

“They’ve always managed our accounts, payroll and IT and in doing so make my life so much easier, as I know I don’t have these areas to worry about.

“However, last year our relationship with Mullen Stoker proved even more invaluable to us as when the coronavirus pandemic struck, we realised how outdated our computer infrastructure and software systems were.

“When the first lockdown was announced we were completely grounded, as we simply didn’t have the set-up to allow our staff to work from home. It was a nightmare for us, and I realised then we had to do something about it.”

Ann called on the support of Gary Stoker, who heads up Mullen Stoker’s IT department.

Gary sat down with Ann to develop a plan which would enable the company to introduce remote working – something that proved vital when the second and third lockdowns were announced.

Ann added: “The advice Gary gave us was fantastic. He talked us through what equipment and software packages would work best for us and helped us switch over to a Microsoft Teams, which meant that when we were plunged into further lockdowns, it was essentially business as usual for us.

“Yes, we couldn’t deliver our classroom-based training but everything else we could do, and it made a huge difference to the business.”

J and K Training, which was set up in 2008 and employs 12 people, offers support to post-16-year-olds across the region, but does the bulk of its work in the Tees Valley region.

The company works in conjunction with Jobcentre Plus to deliver training from Entry Level One up to and including Level 2 in Maths, English, and Essential Digital Skills, with the aim of helping those who have struggled to find work into secure employment.

Ann said: “Mullen Stoker are always at the end of the phone. Whatever time it might be they are happy to help, even if it’s just for a bit of advice.

“I genuinely don’t just see them as my accountancy and IT support partner, they have become friends and I always look forward to seeing them.”