Bexley SNAP - Finding a database to coordinate services
SNAP was set up 15 years ago by parents of disabled children who wanted to see more leisure activities for disabled children in the borough.
The organisation has gown to 50 staff and offers a broad range of services including:
- Information, advice and support for parents. Drop-ins and training courses. Social events for disabled children and their families.
- Pre-school teaching programme for children with delayed development for under 5s with five groups a week.
- Leisure activities, after school clubs and holiday play schemes plus trips to museums etc.
- Shaping and influencing policy on behalf of disabled children and their families.
The SNAP database collected only basic contact data. As the organisation and client base has grown, more bits were added and sub-databases created. It was impossible to identify which children and families were on which schemes. This meant that some families were accessing lots of services and some were having to wait or not receiving any.
SNAP wanted to be able to pull out data on services accessed by individuals, linking data across services and be able to track families through the service to ensure better service access and to measure impact on families over time. They hoped that a new system would allow SNAP to coordinate short breaks and support with other providers.
Carole MCall, CEO of Bexley SNAP attended events at NCVO and CASS and met a CEO of another organisation who shared information on the database they had chosen to meet similar needs. As a result they bought “Lamplight.”
Carole says “Often IT companies offer all sorts of solutions that can be really complicated. I find it’s best to hear from people in the same situation as you about the pros and cons of a system they’ve used; also its good to hear about systems designed especially for the voluntary sector.”
It was extremely difficult to secure funding for the new database so the organisation used underspends and reserves to fund the installation and maintenance for three years.
Bexley SNAP are starting to look at cloud computing solutions as they have lots of remote working and sessional workers who need to access the system off-site. Working hours often include evenings and weekends and in the event of problems, IT support can be an issue outside office hours.
The website is being re-developed to interface with the new database to enable families to update the database automatically by completing online forms.
Eight months ago SNAP launched a Facebook page which now has 150 followers. It was hoped that parents would use it to chat to each other but so far this has not happened but it is a good way to promote the organisations activities.
You can find out more about Bexley SNAP and their work at http://www.bexleysnap.org.uk/.
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