Boosting Training Opportunities within a Local Community

The GFP logoWho are they?
THE GROUND FLOOR PROJECT.

Where are they?
Hebden Bridge, W Yorkshire, serving local communities including remote villages.

What do they do?
Provide, develop, support and sustain community-led initiatives particularly to benefit disadvantaged people in the region.

How big are they?
One full- and one part-time employee supporting 32 in total working across their initiatives. Core income of just £60-70,000.

What did they receive?
MS Office and MS Publisher 2003; CISCO networking equipment

The outcome?
Far better IT provision and training for local people and groups; fully networked community centre.

You might say that the Ground Floor Project is the epitome of a community charity. Set up in 1981 by local people in the Calder Valley area of the Pennines, one of its main aims is to increase opportunities and benefits for disadvantaged people living in a region with economic problems hidden beneath what, on the surface, might seem a perfect English rural idyll.

Headquarters to the Project is an old mill building in the heart of Hebden Market. Here, as well as an overflowing admin office, a thriving community centre has been established. There’s a print shop and resource library, as well as three halls, several offices and a café used by organisations from youth groups to adults with learning difficulties and senior citizens; there’s a raft of training programmes to address local needs.

CTX has already made a key difference in the provision of DTP training. “Before,” smiles Jae Campbell, the project’s Company Secretary, “we could talk about MS Publisher and teach about layout and design – but we’d have to describe in words how the student might achieve things on a PC.”

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A Microsoft/CTX donation has changed that. “We specifically needed MS Publisher,” explains Jae, “as that was what people were asking us for. We have to be user-led.” The IT suite can now offer practical, hands-on training on this leading software, with twelve people already set to ‘graduate’ in the first round.

Jae is sanguine about the financial realities of such a small charity. “Our core income is just £60-70,000 per year,” he explains. “And much of that goes on the costs of running the building. But we achieve a lot, even if we’re using anything we can get hold of. Second-, even third-generation computers.”

MS Office upgrades from CTX have helped – now at least all workstations can run the same up-to-date software. “The fact that we could get so many user licenses was invaluable to an organisation like ours,” says Jae. “So many of the initiatives and groups need to use the PCs, or offer their use. Now at least when a file goes to the Print Room we can be confident that they can actually read it.”

The Project also received a donation of Cisco networking equipment – something that will transform the historic building. “It’s an old renovated mill,” notes Jae, “and networking it has been a big problem. Besides, we couldn’t have afforded the quality of Cisco.” He rattles off the opportunities that he expects when the work is complete. “The internet will be fully accessible – for example for the youth groups in the café. We can show people volunteering opportunities on the web and offer training courses on web design. The Community Print Shop is on the top floor – they’ll be able to take orders over the Internet.”

 
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