Creating a modern office network in North Yorkshire

Who are they?HADA Logo
Harrogate Alcohol and Drugs Agency.

Where are they?
North Yorkshire.

What do they do?
Provide services for people who are experiencing problems as a result of their own or someone else's drug and/or alcohol use.

How big are they?
25 staff; turnover of around £650,000 annually.

What did they receive?
MS Small Business Server 2003, with 5 user client add-on packs.

The outcome?
A networked, modern office. 

The Harrogate Alcohol and Drugs Agency works with people who are experiencing problems as a result of their own or someone else’s drug and/or alcohol use.

A local organisation very much on the front-line of a national issue, HADA works out of premises in the North Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate, with a satellite operation across the county in Ripon. Its workload is anything but small however, with up to 1200 case referrals coming through each year. As a registered charity, HADA’s services are provided totally free to clients, with donations being accepted but not expected. Instead, funding comes mainly from government agencies, who ‘commission’ the charity to provide very specific services to local people.

Director Andrew Harrison, with sixteen years’ experience in the charity sector behind him, is very aware of one drawback in this model. “Infrastructure. IT and telephony is always the thing that suffers. If somebody gives us money, they want to see it spent on a Young Persons’ Worker who will save lives - not computer equipment.”

It is very true that PC’s can’t man a needle exchange, but Andrew quickly outlines the direct impact that IT has on the bottom line. “To get funding, we need to justify it. That means figures and information, and hence databases and computer systems. We get given long lists of the information that they would like us to provide – but nobody wants to pay for it,” he smiles ruefully.

A trained social worker, Andrew might not have a formal background in computers - but it was obvious that the Agency’s two standalone PCs were not up to the task of managing a modern office. This was confirmed when he appointed an outside IT maintenance company. “Where we are now stems from a list of upgrades that this company deemed essential. There’s now a networked PC on every desk. I can sit at my desk and call up information from any area, any location – including externally in Ripon.”

Software to achieve this was donated by Microsoft, via the CTX programme. Andrew is blunt about the impact of this programme. “The software was deemed essential. There are some specialist training programmes planned for staff this year; had I needed to pay full price, one of those training programmes would have gone.”



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