Collaboration tools

Barnardo’s uses Huddle Note for collaboration and communication

Caroline Baldwin

Barnardo’s has chosen Huddle for cloud content collaboration to enable volunteers to share information securely with the charity’s staff.

Barnardo’s works with more than 200,000 children, young people and their families each year, and its mission is to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children.

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The charity has 900 services running nationwide and relies on its 15,000 volunteers and 8,000 staff for support. Projects include one-to-one mentoring, befriending, help in running play schemes, and day trips for vulnerable children.

From these projects, volunteers are required to keep notes of observations, interaction and activities to ensure Barnardo’s is providing the right care and to enable managers to review cases.

Children and families may have faced domestic violence, disability, homelessness, mental health issues or adoption, so notes taken must be treated as highly sensitive and must comply with the Data Protection Act.

Using Huddle, volunteers are able to share meeting notes and sensitive information about named children securely.

Before Huddle Note, Barnardo’s volunteers had to handwrite notes and scan them into the charity’s secure internal system, bring them into the offices, or access the organisation’s extranet.

Barnardo's was already aware of Huddle’s technology from the Huddle Foundation – a collaboration project for charities – as well as its work in government and its reputation for dealing with sensitive information.

Tom Rees, assistant director information services at Barnardo’s, said Huddle Note was attractive because it can be accessed from any device securely.

“Volunteers want to work with young people, and anything we can do to increase the time spent doing that and less on admin roles, the better,” he said.

While Huddle Note can be used on any device, the usability and simplicity is also an attractive feature, as it feels like any other web-based tool. Rees said Barnardo’s has not had to provide a heavy training programme for volunteers, only some user guides, and there is helpful how-to information people can use within Huddle as well.

The charity went live with the system in mid-January, and it could be used by 800-1,000 volunteers within the first year, according to Rees. Huddle’s licensing terms mean this can easily be scaled up if need be.

“As more and more people want secure access to information from home, demand for services like Huddle is only going to increase. The service has given us an easy way of being able to work with external partners,” said Rees.

Looking ahead, Barnardo’s plans to roll out Huddle to more areas of the charity to collaborate with external agencies, as well as using it to bid on partnership projects.


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