Support and advocacy for Gatwick’s immigration detainees.

 

Who are they?
 
Where are they?
Gatwick Airport.
 
What do they do?
Support detainees held in the two detention centres there.
 
How big are they?
4 staff, around 90 volunteers
 
What did they receive?
Microsoft Windows, Office and Publisher software.
 
The outcome?
Up to date software, including a vital Access contact database.
 
 Back in 1995, a small holding facility for asylum seekers and immigration detainees was established at Gatwick Airport. At the same time, a handful of volunteers established the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG), working out of a tiny donated room.
 
Since then, two large detention centres have been purpose-built at the airport, and GDWG has kept pace, growing to be a fully-fledged charity with four staff and around 90 volunteers. Nic Eadie, the organisation’s director explains: “we provide support and advocacy to people who are held at the centres. We pay visits and help to get them through what could be a short or long term period – detainees are held there indefinitely.”
 
IT plays a crucial role in the charity’s operations. “Our work is very office based and we rely on our computer systems,” says Nic. “We need to keep fastidious records of all contact we have with the detainees, and we have around 1100 clients per year. So we use an Access database to record all our conversations – this database has been recently redesigned and makes our work a lot easier. With that many clients it’s absolutely vital to us.”
 
CTX has facilitated the charity’s expansion, by arranging donations of Microsoft software. “We probably didn’t have a computer for the first five years of operation – then we were using Office ’97 right up to 2009 or so,” recalls Nic. “Software is so expensive at corporate rates – we’d have had to muddle along without the CTX donations.” As it was, upgrades to Windows 7 and the introduction of that new database have transformed the charity’s back office efficiency. “We also use Word, Excel and PowerPoint, along with Publisher, which we use to produce our newsletter,” adds Nic.
 
In common with most charities, GDWG’s finances are “very tight,” with funds coming in the main from sympathetic trusts and foundations. Nevertheless Nic and his colleagues have recently received a boost in the form of a National Lottery grant, which they hope will tide them over for the next four years. With those robust IT systems and processes in place, the charity can concentrate on helping their vulnerable end users.
 
“The process of using CTX was very, very simple,” concludes Nic. “We heard about the service from our IT support people, and I would absolutely recommend it to other small charities.”
 
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