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partnerships:articles:pact1 [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
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 +What use is the Internet?
 +=========================
 +
 +\
 + by [Mark Walker](mailto:​mark@scip.org.uk) \<​mark@scip.org.uk\>​\
 +
 +------------------------------------------------------------------------
 +
 +*Mark Walker, Communications Officer for PACT Community Projects, offers
 +a personal overview of what the Internet can offer one particular
 +community organisation.\
 + This article was written in 1997.*
 +
 +------------------------------------------------------------------------
 +
 +PACT develops and manages projects in communities across East and West
 +Sussex. It currently runs 22 projects, which work with a variety of
 +people, including young people; older people; children; people with
 +disabilities and mental health needs; and general community development.
 +We have a turnover in excess of £1 million, 75 staff and hundreds of
 +volunteers. Our projects are mostly small, with a couple of staff
 +providing a very specific set of services to local people.
 +
 +Why get on-line?
 +----------------
 +
 +We started investigating the potential benefits of the Internet in
 +summer 1995 and identified three key opportunities:​
 +
 +-   ​Internal communication:​ We are working towards every project being
 +    on-line and using e-mail for administration,​ news and sharing ideas
 +    and resources. Web-based resources can be shared - such as policy
 +    documents and publicity materials - and the raw material is already
 +    produced on computers in the first place.
 +-   ​External communication:​ We have supporters and partners in
 +    organisations of all sizes and types across the community and
 +    currently spend a large proportion of our budgets on postage and
 +    telephone calls, and can see ways to cut these costs. The Web
 +    provides a cost-effective supplement to traditional print media.
 +-   ​Enhancing and developing services to users: Most exciting are the
 +    possibilities for developing the services we offer. For example:
 +
 +**On The Level**: Information and counselling for 13-25 year olds in
 +Brighton and Hove.\
 + Staff and volunteers provide information and guidance on a variety of
 +issues, including sexual health, drugs, benefits advice, housing and
 +education. The Internet offers a new source of information and
 +interaction with other agencies.\
 +\
 + Being on-line can also improve accessibility:​ opening hours are
 +restricted by the limited funds available to run the service, whilst
 +some young people will not be able to travel to central Brighton
 +easily.\
 +\
 + The On The Level web-site and associated resources could make use of
 +its extensive experience in sourcing and presenting information which
 +young people want - yet be available 24 hours a day to a much wider
 +audience.\
 +\
 + **St. John's Outreach Project: Working with older people in Hove**\
 +\
 + St. John's Outreach Project provides a focus for social activities for
 +older people in the Brunswick area of Hove. Many older people feel
 +isolated and can easily lose touch with their social circle and the
 +project actively supports activities which help overcome these
 +problems.\
 +\
 + ​Access to the Internet - especially in a communal space - will help
 +bring together many different people in the community. Many older people
 +are familiar with computers, and have the time and inclination to
 +explore and share what they know. They may wish to contact family or
 +friends, or simply indulge their curiosity on a particular subject. The
 +Internet will also help with new adult education services being
 +developed for older people.
 +
 +Looking ahead
 +-------------
 +
 +We lack the skills and resources to implement such a broad-ranging
 +project very quickly, but we do have e-mail in some projects, and it is
 +growing in use. We have web pages, which has produced results in terms
 +of attracting on-line supporters, and by being active have built many
 +valuable contacts.\
 +\
 + We include Internet-based ideas in our bids for funds and continue to
 +review and update our the plans. This is a fast-moving field and - as
 +anyone does - we struggle to keep up with the latest ideas.\
 +\
 + ​Several staff participate in the Sussex Community Internet Project - a
 +local initiative looking at the ways that the Internet can benefit
 +community development. Networks such as these help to keep up with
 +what's going on in the area - and provide practical support.
 +
 +Conclusion
 +----------
 +
 +PACT stands to gain as much from the Internet as it would from full
 +implementation of any IT-based systems. However, we are always balancing
 +the potential value of any new idea against our commitment to our
 +existing work and the other demands on our resources.\
 +\
 + The Internet provides an opportunity to work more effectively as an
 +organisation,​ and to develop our services for the people we serve. As
 +the use of the technology gains pace in the wider community we will seek
 +to keep pace with change and take advantage of the opportunities it
 +offers.
 +
 +Mark Walker\
 +
  
partnerships/articles/pact1.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)