Who are they?
Where are they?
Offices around the UK.
Projects in UK, E Europe, Africa and India
What do they do?
Provide humanitarian aid, emergency relief and sustainable projects, supporting people regardless of ethnicity, religious beliefs etc.
How big are they?
116 employees. In 2007 they delivered aid valued at £4.5 million to 13 countries all over the world.
What did they receive?
Cisco routers and Access Points, MS Windows Terminal Services User & Server User Client Access Licences, Windows XP Pro upgrades, Windows Server 2003, SQL Server 2005 and MS Office Professional 2003.
A substantial upgrade in technology across the organisation.
Whether through filled shoeboxes at Christmas, relief and development aid or social projects for young and old, Blythswood brings hope to thousands in Europe, Africa and Asia – and has done since 1966. Blythswood is committed to long-term care projects in Romania, enabling disadvantaged children and young people fulfil their potential. A founding member of Global Hand, Blythswood cooperates with likeminded charities around the world, supporting the work of local care professionals who best know the needs of their communities.
It’s a wide remit. “I’m never sure whether that’s a strength or a weakness, but we are big enough to make a difference though small enough to care,” says Ian Matheson, IT Manager at the charity, calling up some figures from the organisation’s Intranet. Funding comes from a mix of sources, generally donations or from the charity’s network of shops – some of which are based in the Eastern European countries in which the charity works.
“We don’t just sell things here then send the money abroad as aid,” explains Ian, talking through the sustainable nature of their approach. “We might set up a charity shop in the area with the social care project, and send the goods to them. This provides both employment and an income for the project.” Blythswood’s figures indicate that for every £1 donated, the charity delivers more than £5 worth of aid.
Shops require warehousing support, and Blythswood’s set-up would be astonishing to anybody who still pictures charity shops as being run by well-meaning amateurs. “Our main warehouse is two thousand square metres,” says Ian. “We wanted to go wireless, with key warehouse staff having hand-held units, enabling them to access stock control at any time.” The warehouse staff and stock control system are key to the charity’s efficient running. After all, as Ian reveals with a smile, “people will donate anything from a pair of socks to a fire engine.”
Cisco equipment, donated via the CTX programme, is facilitating this. “The Cisco stuff is very good and very reliable,” says Ian. “We paid for external IT contractors to install it, which was an investment - but it’s worth it – it’s superior equipment. In terms of reliability and failure, it’s been running for six months now with no issues.”
The intelligent application of new technology extends throughout the organisation, with Microsoft products – again via CTX – having been used to take forward key areas. “We’re quite a networked charity,” comments Ian, reflecting on the requirements of an organisation with 5 depots. SQL server now powers many of the charity’s resources - including the aforementioned Intranet – and the CRM system has been upgraded to be web-based – allowing people to work from home.
Blythswood Care is larger and perhaps more IT-literate than many of the charities that have benefited from CTX donations – but the issue of when to divert money into internal IT improvements is equal to all. With Blythswood, CTX acted as a catalyst.
“It made the decision making a lot easier,” says Ian. “We could have a robust platform for the future without having to cut things down, or cut corners. For us, the service has been an enabler – allowing us to use technology that we’d have struggled to obtain.”
Windows Server 2012 is a server operating system that enables a computer to handle network roles such as print server, domain controller, web server, and file server.
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