The Northern Rock Foundation

Remote Working in the North East

Established during the demutualization of what was then known as the Northern Rock Building Society, the Northern Rock Foundation is a small independent charity that funds organizations working in the North East and Cumbria in England.

David Allan is the IT and building administrator of the foundation. "Our remit is to reduce deprivation in the North East and Cumbria," he explains. "So, for example, we support the Newcastle branch of Crisis, which offers training and advice for homeless people. We fund many charities that seek to address sexual violence, people trafficking, or child abuse. And we give them our unqualified support there's no big stick if we fund a project that doesn't work out; we'll help and work in collaboration."

The charity covers a huge geographical area. Accordingly, program managers spend substantial amounts of time out in the field, and this is why David was so interested in the Windows Server and Remote Desktop packages available via CTX.

"We had staff who were out there assessing grant applications, and they would have to go home to type them up, bring them in on a disc or thumb drive, then reformat the documents and manually link them to other files," he says. "We also had a lot of paper files that needed to be taken away from the office. This might have been 60 to100 times per month, so it was a lot of work."

"With the CTX scheme, I knew that I could justify the case to get this software and introduce remote working. To be honest, it would have been cost-prohibitive otherwise," he says. "Our focus is to keep our own costs as low as we possibly can. We have a small grants scheme which awards grants between 1,000 and 20,000 pounds.So if we have a cost outlay of 1,500 pounds for software, that equates to an entire grant for a charity."

The current economic climate has impacted on the foundation severely. Its revenue comes from the donation of a proportion of Northern Rock's pre-tax profits.With this stream currently dry, the charity is existing on reserves. Nevertheless, there is money available until the mid-decade, and the software upgrades have provided a big boost in efficiency.

"It's had an absolutely fantastic effect on us," David says. "It's one of those things that we never had before that we now couldn't do without! People log in, the job gets done, they're finished. There's been a big reduction in workload and improved access to information. And it's been particularly noticeable when we've had bad weather."