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Opportunity in the North is abundant when you know where to look

5 min read

True North

Opportunity in the North is abundant when you know where to look

As part of our True North report, Tarnia Elsworth, Co-founder and Director, TP Financial Solutions discusses the future of towns like Morecambe.

I come from a working-class background and didn’t have a lot growing up. I hated the thought of my parents approaching a financial advisor and being told no because they didn’t have enough money.

And so, about five years ago, my wife Annabel and I said: ‘let’s be the change that we want to see’.

I can’t imagine that there are too many all-female-led — let alone LGBTQ+-led — financial advisory firms out there, so we created one. One that serves all businesses and those who are in real need of financial support.

The name, TP Financial Solutions, reflects those values and the community we serve. TP stands for Twemlow Parade — our road in Morecambe. For people in the area, it is recognition that we are for them and that we know the needs of this community.This led me to get involved with the Lancaster & District Chamber of Commerce.


Engaging with the community

I always tried to encourage others to join the Chamber, as we are always ‘stronger together’. However, I kept getting push back from my peers, who felt that the Chamber was a ‘boys club’, or for older professionals and larger businesses — not sole traders like them. While some of these perceptions did not reflect the reality, they demonstrated a broader point. If you are a network made up of white collar, middleaged, white, male professionals, then many in your community will not see themselves reflected in it and will not join. This then exacerbates the lack of diversity.

As soon as I joined the board, we worked to commission an EDI study, which compared the demographics of businesses in our district to those of the businesses in the Chamber.

Although we have more female members than are represented in the wider district, we did broadly see the lack of representation we had anticipated — giving us a real impetus to become more inclusive.

We now proactively go out and speak to business leaders from all backgrounds — and we see how few even realised the Chamber existed before. It showed us that you cannot sit and hide, doing the same things you always have. To change, you have to get out into the community and make sure you are speaking for a greater cross-section of society.


Encouraging young people to lay down roots in Morecambe

I have always been about finding solutions, not problems. I was brought up in an estate with a real sense of community and a responsibility to the people around me.

Since I had that instilled in me from a young age, I have never been the kind of person that complains about where they live or looks for the first opportunity to get out.

The major challenge for towns like Morecambe is encouraging our young people to lay down roots here. Even if people grow up with aspirations to set up a business, they do not think they can be as successful here.

We need to get better at showing them what is on their doorstep. I cannot think of one job off the top of my head that you cannot do in the North of England. For example, within a stone’s throw of Morecambe, we have a thriving tech hub in Lancaster.

What is missing is the funding to connect businesses with schools, to show the breadth of opportunities that exist. Many small businesses do not have the capital to go to careers fairs, or resource to take significant time talking to young people.

In schools, careers tutors are often part-time, or even unpaid. So, whose job is it to guide students and tell them about the opportunities? Even with people who are willing to do it, there is only so much time and money they can give up.

This is where support from and a greater connection between local businesses, schools and government is needed. There are people with the willpower to take the lead, but only if they are given the resources to do so.


Making connections across the region with the True North network

True North is a fantastic initiative because it is an opportunity to make these connections. It brings together so many interesting businesses that people may not know exist, to show how much is happening across the region, in both small towns and cities. 

In Morecambe, there are barely a handful of shrimp fishermen left and they do not have successors. The industry that this town has traditionally been best known for is on the verge of extinction. Morecambe’s tourist industry has also declined with the rise of the ‘package holiday abroad’, leaving us without our main sources of income.

That can be seen as a bad thing and something that needs to be prevented. But the world is changing and towns like Morecambe must change with it.

For Morecambe, a brighter future comes with various initiatives that are happening locally, the most prominent being the arrival of the Eden Project Morecambe — the sustainable education charity and botanical garden, which opens here in 2025/26. While a significant tourist attraction, the Eden Project Morecambe could also catalyse new career opportunities in industries like sustainability and environment studies.

Fishing may not be our economic future, but something else will be. Let’s tell that narrative to the next generation, bring more people into our networks and show that potential is everywhere if we are willing to make the case for it.

Download the True North report and join the network.

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