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partnerships:articles:pact [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
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 +What use is the Internet?
 +=========================
 +
 +\
 + by [Mark Walker](mailto:​coreteam@pact.org.uk%28Mark%20Walker%29)
 +\<​coreteam@pact.org.uk\>​\
 +
 +Mark Walker, Communications Officer for PACT Community Projects, offers
 +a personal overview of what the Internet can offer one particular
 +community organisation.
 +
 +------------------------------------------------------------------------
 +
 +1\. PACT Community Projects
 +
 +[PACT](http://​pact.org.uk/​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.
 +
 +------------------------------------------------------------------------
 +
 +2\. Why get on-line?
 +
 +We started investigating the potential benefits of the Internet in
 +summer 1995 and identified three key opportunities:​
 +
 +
 +### i) *Internal communications*
 +
 +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.
 +
 +### ii) *External communications*
 +
 +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.
 +
 +### iii) *Enhancing and developing services to users*
 +
 +Most exciting are the possibilities for developing the services we
 +offer. For example:
 +
 +#### a) 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.
 +
 +
 +#### b) 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.
 +
 +------------------------------------------------------------------------
 +
 +4\. 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](http://​pact.org.uk/​scip) - 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.
 +
 +------------------------------------------------------------------------
 +
 +5\. 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.
 +
 +------------------------------------------------------------------------
 +
 +-   [What does IT all cost?​](costs)
 +
  
partnerships/articles/pact.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)