A NEW report from the Federation of Small Businesses has shed light on the scale of small business efforts to help their communities during the current crisis.

Although thousands of small firms and self-employed individuals are temporarily shut down or facing uncertain futures, the research has highlighted how they are engaging with their local towns, cities, and areas to selflessly help their communities.

The report, New Horizons, highlights how thousands of small firms are going out of their way to help the vulnerable, saving jobs and finding new ways to keep businesses operating.

It shows how many small businesses have reinvented their business models, products, services and business practices.

Many have added a new digital offer or enhanced their existing digital services. This highlights the need for funding and support to help smaller businesses to adopt the digital technologies that will enable them to recover from the crisis and improve their productivity.

These are very uncertain times for all businesses, with futures unknown.

Yet since the crisis started, we have seen more than half of all small firms (57 per cent) carrying out key roles in their communities, with about a third prioritising their businesses for the vulnerable and around a quarter donating provisions to food banks.

Small firms have also played a crucial role in supporting our key workers.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) have stepped up in some way to aid key workers, whether that be through volunteering or returning to work for the NHS, providing critical PPE and hand sanitisers as well as offering up support and accommodation for those professionals who are working tirelessly to save lives.

So, once again and despite the incredibly challenging environment, small businesses have demonstrated their ability to innovate. They have introduced a wide range of new creative solutions to provide their products and services to their customers during the lockdown.

Now, as efforts turn to restarting local and national economies, the importance of small businesses must not be underestimated. Because with the right support and financial assistance, they will be able to continue to support the prosperity and well-being of their local communities and the nation as a whole.