BCRS Business Loans Portfolio & Compliance Manager Neil Johnston (left), LearnPlay Foundation Sales & Accounts Lead Simon Gull (centre) and LearnPlay Foundation Head of Operations Justin Rutherford (right) with children at LearnPlay Foundation

Wolverhampton-based digital media agency LearnPlay Foundation is ready to grow after a funding boost from business loan provider BCRS Business Loans helped it restructure during the pandemic.

LearnPlay Foundation is a creative digital media company that strives to make a difference to people’s lives using games-based technologies, innovative film development and unique branding designs. The organisation produces traditional print and digital design work, operates a game development studio and is also one of the largest training providers in the Black Country for creative and digital apprenticeships.

LearnPlay secured a £100,000 loan from BCRS in 2020 through the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) in conjunction with the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

The funding enabled LearnPlay to continue to work during the period of disruption caused by Covid-19 and refocus what it did as a business so that it could bounce back after the pandemic.


LearnPlay Managing Director Ro Hands explained: “Receiving funding from BCRS enabled us to explore alternative ways of delivering interrupted contracts. We had to transition from being a mainly face-to-face service to an online one, growing our remote offering by developing training sessions and assessments that could be conducted virtually.

“Having previously worked under a subcontractor for the delivery of apprenticeships, following the pandemic we also took the decision to become a main provider for apprenticeships so that we could directly deliver training to apprentices for other organisations.

“During the setup process, which took about eight months, funding from BCRS enabled us to restructure and refocus our offering so that we could get ready to be a different organisation. Now that everything is in place, our intention is to start growing again.”

The not-for-profit digital media organisation has an ongoing relationship with BCRS, having taken out six loans with the alternative lender since 2008.

Ro Hands said: “We’ve had multiple loans from BCRS and they’ve been incredible on lots of fronts. Approaching a traditional bank is incredibly difficult nowadays for an organisation of our size.

“With BCRS, not only did we gain access to funding, but we did so very quickly. We had access to great people who worked with us to check things like affordability and projections. We had someone we could pick up the phone to if we had a problem and needed to seek advice.

“We don’t get that service anywhere else, so that’s why we keep going back. There are other organisations that offer similar things, but what they don’t give us is that extra level of support, which is really important to us.”

Lynn Wyke, Senior Business Development Manager at BCRS Business Loans, said: “As a lender that is committed to making a positive social and economic impact, we are really pleased to have supported LearnPlay Foundation.

“The organisation adds significant value to the local community by engaging young people who feel uninspired by traditional teaching methods in education through apprenticeships and the gamification of learning.

“LearnPlay also provides great employment opportunities. Most of the digital agency’s team are talented people who have completed courses and apprenticeship programmes with the organisation, which is fantastic to see.

“We are dedicated to supporting businesses that are unable to access finance from traditional lenders and believe that no viable business should go unsupported.”

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which ended in March 2021, provided financial support to small and medium-sized businesses affected by Covid-19. It was managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

Business loans from £25,000 to £150,000 are available via the MEIF Small Business Loan Fund, which is delivered to businesses located in the West Midlands region by BCRS Business Loans.