Working with Offenders; building safer communities for us all

Who are they?
CLINKS.

Where are they?
Based in York, but working at a national level.

What do they do?
Supports and develops the work that voluntary organisations undertake within the Criminal Justice system in England and Wales.

How big are they?
Seven full-time employees.

What did they receive?
10 x Office Professional 2003; Small Business Server 2003 Device Client add-on pack; Small Business Server 2003 SE.

The outcome?
Server brought in-house, removing the cost of third-party space.

www.clinks.org

 

Across the UK there are many hundreds of voluntary organisations working with offenders – both within the prison system and out in the community. More than seven thousand prison volunteers contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders. The aim: to reduce individual re-offending and to make a positive contribution towards building more inclusive and safer communities.

Clinks is a membership body that supports these organisations. By advocacy, providing information and practical initiatives, it develops and bolsters the role of these organisations within the Criminal Justice system in England and Wales.

Jean Coates, one of only seven paid employees at the charity, takes up the story. “There’s no ‘typical’ organisation we help. They range from people like NACRO, with hundreds of paid staff, to tiny projects with perhaps one or two paid staff or those entirely run by volunteers. These smaller agencies are the ones that need the most help from Clinks.”

As ever, finding money for IT systems is difficult. “Much of our funding money is tied up in our development projects,” explains Jean. “Prices have come down in the past few years, but we really have to think twice before buying anything. We recently bought a laptop for a new case worker, but could only do this as we had funds available in the project budget.”

Microsoft, via the CTX programme, donated ten Office Professional suites in order that the charity could upgrade their software across the board. On top of that, Clinks has been able to bring its server in-house by using MS Small Business Server. This will bring some immediate cost savings.

“We’ve been using an external provider for our server,” explains Jean. “Renting a certain amount of space – which often gets exceeded.  We’ve recently taken on three further project staff, and would have had to increase our commitment there.” Luckily, the charity’s IT consultant had read of the CTX programme and this is one ‘out cost’ that will shortly be disappearing from Clinks’s books.

What if the programme had not been available? "We’d have plodded on,” says Jean. “But we would not have been able to upgrade our software or been able to achieve a consistency  between the software staff were using.”

 
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