Helping the Community Cope with the Effects of Drugs and Alcohol

Matthew Project Bus

Who are they?
THE MATTHEW PROJECT.

Where are they?
Norwich.

What do they do?
Provide support, care and education to people and communities affected by drugs and alcohol.

How big are they?
56 staff, with a turnover of around £1.3 million.

What did they receive?
Copies of Windows XP Professional and MS Office Professional, Small Business Server, MS Project Professional, Visio Professional

The outcome?
Up-to-date software across the organisation; new office equipped with Small Business Server.

www.matthewproject.co.uk

Drugs and alcohol aren’t an ‘inner city’ problem – nor do they affect those of exclusively one social class. With a head office in the picturesque city of Norwich, The Matthew Project has workers throughout the towns and rural areas of Norfolk, its clients including teenagers, office workers, factory workers, retired people, children whose parents have a dependency and people who are homeless. In their own words: ‘anyone can fall’; the Project aims to catch those who do.

Like many organisations, the Project’s biggest financial commitment is on staff costs, followed by fixed expenses such as accommodation and rates. IT has to sit somewhere near the bottom of the list, despite being key to managing a charity with people based across the county. “We just manage as best we can,” says Business Manager Claire Stone, who finds herself providing an unofficial IT support role in the absence of any formal internal resource. She cheerfully explains the frustrations of having different software versions running ad-hoc. “We’ll produce something in Publisher and somebody won’t be able to read it. Or we’ll provide instructions on how to do something – but somebody’s screen will look completely different. Occasionally we might be able to upgrade the very oldest PC’s – no... thinking about it we’d probably wait until they died.”

If Microsoft/CTX-donated copies of Windows and Office upgrades will streamline the day-to-day running of the organisation, it’s the specialist MS Project and Visio software that Claire hopes will open new avenues. “Take legislation as an example,” she offers. “Some of it can be incredibly complicated to explain to people. If we can use Visio to help with our presentations, breaking things down and communicating visually, then that will make a huge difference.” Would they have been able to acquire this software anyway? “We couldn’t possibly have justified the expense.”

Over in the South Norfolk town of Thetford, the timing of the CTX programme chimed superbly with the setting up of a new office. With infrastructure required and MS Small Business Server available on a CTX donation, there couldn’t be a better illustration of the simplicity of financial realities for a small charity.

“You get a certain pot of money,” explains Claire bluntly, “and that’s it. Had we not been able to reduce our IT expenditure then we would have had to reduce our budget on other things.”

“We’re just very grateful for the programme. We would never, never have been able to afford to buy some equipment otherwise.”

 
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