Link Age is a charitable organisation based in Southwark helping over 500 older people in the area suffering from isolation or loneliness.
With 7 full-time employees and 350 volunteers, Link Age offer exercise classes, art and gardening sessions as well as one-to-one catch-ups and hospital visits with volunteers. They also offer specific services to dementia patients, such as support groups and reading sessions.
“there was so much in people’s heads”
The great work Link Age do involves a lot of out-of-office hours and moving around the community. This means it’s essential that employees and volunteers can access needed information from anywhere and at anytime.
Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. According to the charity’s Director, Gemma Juma, the office had “hanging files everywhere… and there was so much in people’s heads!”
Not keeping everything in one place meant not everyone had access to certain important information. Access to crucial documents was instead limited to people who were in the office at the time.
Beyond this, their reliance on physical documents meant time had to be spent writing down, filing and later searching for written records, taking time away from focusing on the fundamental aims of the organisation.
“it takes no time at all”
Doing so has means no computer storage has to be taken to create and save documents. It also means all files can be found in one place, minimising time spent searching through documents and databases.
As an example of the difference it has made, logging new service users and matching them to suitable volunteers (a task which could previously take up to a week) can now be done in a matter of minutes.
“Writing, filing, looking for records… it now takes no time at all”, says Gemma.
By being able to organise support for beneficiaries much more efficiently, it has not only made life easier for staff and volunteers, but also in turn has improved the service that Link Age is able to provide.
“there’s no room for waste”
While that’s all well and good, it wasn’t as simple as flicking a switch, as Gemma explains.
“It took us a good six months to be comfortable with the system; it was a steep learning curve and we had to put in some time”, she says. The challenge was to get everyone in the organisation to really embrace the change “with an open mind”.
Thankfully, that overcoming that challenge has paid real dividends to the charity, and Gemma is completely sure that the change has been beneficial to the charity in the long run.
“You have to become more efficient to survive and thrive, there’s no room for waste,” she says.
Understanding that technology is an important and useful means-to-an-end means Link Age are able to prioritise their time on what really matters to their organisation: providing a better quality of life to older people in the Southwark community.
Their advice to other organisations considering the investment in future is to “always look for ways to do things better” and to understand that IT is “so important” in achieving this.
|Who are they?||Link Age|
|Where are they?||Southwark, London|
|What do they do?||Provide care and support for older people in the borough by keeping them engaged in the community.|
|How big are they?||An annual revenue of £293,000 in 2015|
|What did they receive?||Annual subscription to the Office 365 cloud-based suite|
|The outcome?||A faster, cheaper and more widely accessible system for employees and volunteers|