Bryony’s journey

Social action is a term often used by professionals. You see it in contracts, on project management plans and in funding applications.

But social action is about real people in real communities taking advantage of what’s on offer and using it to do good stuff (in all its forms) within their community.

Let’s talk about Bryony.

Bryony is 27 years of age, has 2 children (aged 4 and 2) and lives in Huntingdon, where she has resided for the past 5 years. Bryony is an accountant by trade, but has a number of long term health conditions, which makes any form of future planning difficult. Despite this, she joined her local Parents Forum and is passionate about local services, particularly the Children’s Centre which supported her through a very difficult part of her life.

If anything, social action is about people talking to people, it’s about the power of networking and partnership forming: The more that Bryony spoke to people the more she became convinced that in some way she could help her local community. The community organisation, Huntingdon Community Action was a perfect foil, and Bryony started to attend the Quest for Funding sessions, an innovative approach between the Children’s Centre and Support Cambridgeshire around local volunteers applying for funding to sustain important community initiatives.

Bryony readily admits that at the very first session she was anxious, concerned and felt there was very little she could offer. But with regularity comes confidence, and through the next 2 Quest for Funding sessions Bryony felt empowered to take the lead and form a group looking at potentially larger funds to sustain existing projects. Bryony recognises that on-going support is crucial, particularly whilst volunteers develop their skills and knowledge, and this is amply provided by both Support Cambridgeshire and the Children’s Centre staff.

So where is Bryony now: Working hard to find funds which can help her local community: Giving something back. Bryony has also become a Treasurer for a small local community organisation, adding to her growing levels of confidence.

Bryony states:

Without aiming for it, I have started on a journey which is giving me both confidence and skills. I feel like I can give something back to help others. Without our local services, mums like me would have no- where to go.

The support and advice I have received to date has been really helpful. Here’s to the next Quest for Funding Session.

Enough said………..


Is paperless a reality for charities?

It is, according to Owen Balloch, Marketing Manager at Kodak Alaris.

For all charities, there’s a constant need to achieve more with less. That means resources have to be stretched and efficiencies maximised, which could lead to a great embracing of digital solutions for charities and community organisations alike.

The digital workplace comes in many forms, but one of the most easily achievable and easy to manage methods of streamlining workflows and boosting efficiency is to reduce physical paper consumption through digital workflows. Here are some benefits to such an approach:

  • 45% of the paper printed in offices ends up in a waster bin: This daily lifespan occurs for over a trillion sheets of paper per year.
  • A typical employee spends 30-40% of their time looking for information locked in E-Mail and filing cabinets.
  • The average document is copied 9 to 11 times, and every 12 filing cabinets require an additional employee to maintain.
  • Each four-drawer file cabinet holds an average of 10,000 to 12,000 documents, and takes up to nine square feet of floor space, a massive expense when budgets are tight and under pressure.
  • Large organisations lose a document every 12 seconds.
  • Paper in the average organisation grows by 22% a year.

The benefits of transitioning into the digital world are far-reaching and can include:

Efficiency: Digital documents are much easier to manage, store and retrieve than paper ones. Having documents available to access and share regardless of the location improves team productivity and brings a better customer experience.

Faster communication: Paper documents will take at least a day to transfer from Point A to Point B. Even then there may be delays, misplacement, or complete loss. Once digitised, a document is available where it is needed, instantly. It’s also more secure.

Document back-up and recovery: With the paperless office documents are stored electronically for simple and easy back-ups to a remote server or the cloud. This protects information should disaster strike. Paper documents lost in a fire or flood are irreplaceable.

Cost savings: Print, paper and storage are costly. Charities need to demonstrate that they are using as much of a donor’s contribution on its projects as possible: Reducing outlay on storage, archiving, ink, paper and printing is a tangible saving worth making.

Here are some hints and tips on making that move to paperless:

  1. Assess paper-driven bottlenecks:

Detail the most critical business processes, such as the ones that stop or ‘harm’ operations if they are delayed. Review existing documentation or establish a quick step-by-step overview noting where paper is used in each process or task. Assess the number of paper business inputs required for the chosen processes in a typical day, week or month and the time involved in the manual handling of the paper document.

  1. Establish paperless processes where feasible:

Identify tasks that rely on paper-based inputs but can easily be shifted to a digital implementation: Ensure that digital and conventional processes can be handled in parallel and are fully integrated.

  1. Scanning and back-file conversion:

Any documents that arrive in paper form should be scanned and converted to electronic format as quickly as possible upon receipt. The chances are that paper documents and files coming from external sources will likely be a part of your operations for some time. The key is to digitise those files as soon as they arrive so they can be acted on immediately. There may also be value in converting existing archives to digital, but this requires high retrieval rates and some resource.

  1. Update stakeholders

Once you have implemented the shift to digitalisation, you should inform all stakeholders about the changes and how it affects them. You may want to issue an email notice highlighting the advantages and also cover any concerns that may exist about security and privacy.


GDPR Charity Forum

Hewitson’s solicitiors have just run a Support Cambridgeshire Charity Forum on the subject of GDPR, which comes into force on the 25th May 2018.

The event, held in Huntingdonshire attracted 20 delegates, and covered the essential differences between GDPR and the current Data Protection Act, which it replaces.

There was some fantastic feedback from the event: Take a look at some of the delegate quotations below:

The session confirmed some concerns and worries I have.

Very useful – clarified the changes and made it less daunting.

The course was excellent and well delivered.

The presenters were knowledgeable, sensible and understood their audience.

It was nice to have points explained clearly. The presenters were excellent.

It gave me a clear understanding of the changes.

It was concise and useful.

It was helpful to clarify a confusing subject.

It is vital that every organisation starts to think about GDPR, and its possible implications. Hewitson’s have supplied some helpful feedback:

  • The GDPR will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 on 25 May 2018.  All charities must ensure that they comply with the new rules.  If a charity is already complying with the DPA then there may be very little adjustment to be made to current practices and policies.
  • The ICO has lots of useful guidance on its website, especially for charities, which may be found at  This will also be useful for local groups and other not-for-profits even if they are not charities.
  • In order to be prepared, charities must first undertake an ‘audit’ of all the personal data that they currently hold to understand what data is held, what it is used for, the legal basis on which it is held (see below) and who has access to it.
  • As to that last point, charities should ensure the data is kept securely either by physical means (e.g. locked cabinet) or electronic (passwords).
  • It is helpful if there is one person who is assigned to the job of making sure that a charity is GDPR compliant.  Charities should follow the guidance about whether a Data Protection Officer must be appointed in their organisation, but whether required or not it is always useful to nominate someone for this responsibility.
  • Boards of trustees should ensure that they recognise their duties in respect of GDPR and minute their discussions on the subject.  Although it may be best for them to delegate the practical side of compliance, ultimately the responsibility to ensure that they are compliant lies with them.
  • Charities should read the ‘12 steps to take now’ document which is produced by the ICO, if they have not done so already.
  • The key point to remember is that there must be a lawful basis for processing personal data.  For most charities this will either be because the data subject has given consent to the processing of their data (a positive opt in) or processing is necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by the charity.
  • Other lawful bases include processing that is necessary: for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is party or for compliance with a legal obligation to which the charity is subject or in order to protect the vital interests of a data subject or another person (i.e. to protect their life) or for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest (mostly relevant to public authorities).
  • Special category data which includes data regarding someone’s health or relating to children, must be treated especially carefully: The GDPR introduces additional protections over and above standard data processing.
  • There is no need to panic!  Changes to policies and practices cannot be done overnight.  So long as charities are taking all reasonable steps to ensure compliance, they are highly unlikely to be found to be in breach.  And remember the changes are taking place across all 28 Member States, and will apply to organisations outside the EU that offer goods / services to individuals inside the EU.  Many are therefore grappling with this new regime.


Charities cannot afford to be digitally defiant..!!

So says Dr Simon Davey, consultant at the Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness.

His warning comes after the latest Tech Trust Digital Charity Survey, which revealed that over half of charities (58%) don’t have a digital strategy, with just over a third saying that the lack of money is the biggest barrier. Other barriers cited were the lack of time (32.71%), lack of understanding (15.94%) and no perceived benefit (9.40%).

Dr Davey says: “Charities without a digital strategy risk being left behind when it comes to raising awareness of their organisation, communicating with potential donors and stakeholders and interacting with beneficiaries.”

He adds, “While a few years ago some charities may have thought it was just younger people that were prolific users of digital technology, many more people use now use technology in their daily lives. Soon we will have generations that have never lived without smart phones or access to Facebook and Twitter.

“Charities can no longer hope they will survive doing things the way they have always done. Technology is at the heart of business and charity communications and interactions and charities need to invest time and money in developing a digital strategy to future-proof their organisation.”

Some starting points:

What’s the why: What’s the point really? Why do you want to do this? Efficiency, growth, innovation? What will make that happen? A new website for educating an audience about your subject area or better direct interaction, a database for managing engagement and relationships and tracking outcomes or equipment and tools to make you more productive? Be very clear about the goal and reasons for doing it.

Know what you need: Start from the user perspective: Talk to them about what they need and want, create user journeys (how people act and interact), imagine what could be (not just what is and always has been). Digital platforms offer great potential but its always best change your processes first than fit shiny new tyres to a clapped out old car. Choose your technology and suppliers carefully. Cultural fit matters but do not exchange competence for ‘ those who are nice to work with’.

Make a plan: Technology can be unforgiving (and expensive to reverse) so always trial and test it. Have a destination, staging points and outline timetable, a means to evaluate success or failure and a group of people to assess whether it has worked.

Appreciate change: Be aware of the ‘Change Curve’ and its implications. However well you prepare and plan, you need to take people through the phases, through the disbelief, the frustration of the new, the bit when things cannot get any worse, the experimentation when they get better and finally acceptance and commitment. Lead the change and ride the curve. Use your plan to help show you and others where you should be.

Drive through better: Your ‘why’ and ‘plan’ define the map. Keep your destination clear and focused, know what success looks like and keep going. Make sure someone is driving the project and always constantly review and develop.

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