Behind a British town planning milestone.

 
Who are they?

The PORT SUNLIGHT VILLAGE TRUST.

Where are they?
Wirral.

What do they do?

Manage and support this major historical site and attraction.

How big are they?

Approx £2m turnover.

What did they receive?
Symantec Endpoint Protection & Backup Exec; Microsoft software including various servers, Visio and Office Professional Plus

The outcome?

A major upgrade for the entire system, providing a solid foundation for future growth.

Port Sunlight occupies a unique place in British social and architectural history. Built in the late 19th century by industrialist William Lever to house his workers, the village is now a conservation area and major draw for both national and international visitors. It is administered and curated by the Port Sunlight Village Trust.
 

 
Lionel Bolland is CEO of the charity. “Our aim is to preserve Port Sunlight and its aspects of significance, both architectural and historical. And alongside this we promote the urban planning ideas that underlied its foundation – Port Sunlight still influences town planning and urban design today,” he says.

Despite its status as a historical ‘attraction’, the village is still very much a living, breathing community. The Trust has the job of managing the estate, balancing the needs of residents and the site’s 300,000 annual visitors whilst generating sustainable revenues that cover the frightening maintenance, upkeep and investment costs of such a place.

 

 
“There are around a thousand houses here, and fifteen big ‘principal’ buildings – nearly everything is grade 2 listed. This is across 130 acres, with miles upon miles of grass edges and hedgerows – we employ 12 full-time gardeners alone,” says Lionel.

This is a big business – and one which the Trust aims to make entirely self-funding. (Unilever, the ‘descendent’ of William Lever’s original company will cease financial support in five years). This is why behind the scenes the Trust maintains the level of IT that you’d see in an equivalent large commercial organisation – the difference being that much of the equipment came as a donation via CTX.

“CTX was a real enabler for us,” says Lionel. “Our cashflow couldn’t have stood it otherwise; our business would have suffered without all the Office and server software. We were at the stage where older products were slowing down or simply not working, and I was getting seriously worried about what we would do – we’d have been in an awful state by now.”

“An alternative might have been to try to phase in new software as and when we could afford it – but that would have been unhelpful, with some people working nicely and others screaming at me!”

“As it was, we could do this ‘big hit’ upgrade – and what it gives us is an infrastructure platform to build on – a platform that we couldn’t have dreamt of otherwise,” he says.

A member of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations – ACEVO – Lionel would recommend charities explore the CTX donation scheme. “Heavens yes!” he says. “I’d advise them to look very closely at the opportunities that it affords.” He also reflects upon the need to keep on top of the IT needs of an organisation. “Lesson learned – keep the annual IT investment going,” he says. “It doesn’t pay to leave it, as this eventually gives you a massive amount to find in one go. If it hadn’t been for CTX it would have been beyond us.”
 
 
 
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