Supporting Homeless Families in the London Borough of Haringey
CARIS Haringey is a registered charity. It works with, and on behalf of, homeless families in Haringey, of which there are 3,500 — twice the number in most London boroughs and consistently the highest or second highest in the U.K. Haringey is the 5th most deprived borough in London and the 18th most deprived in England.
The charity provides a wealth of services as its senior advice and outreach worker, Indira Kartallozi, explains. “We provide wide-ranging professional advice, e.g., education, housing (dealing with overcrowding and multiple occupancy), welfare benefit claims, immigration and nationality, refugee status, and race equality. Family support works with health visitors, carrying out home safety checks and providing safety loan equipment.”
All this is achieved by two full-time and three part-time staff plus enthusiastic volunteers. CARIS Haringey is based in church hall premises and until recently was reliant on temperamental creaking old computers for its administrative backbone.
“We had a lot of difficulties,” Kartallozi recalls. “Our client database would crash all the time, and we had a serious problem with viruses and spam. We were then very lucky to get a grant to buy new equipment — but we couldn’t afford software upgrades.”
Fortunately, the absence of a formal technical support team had led to Kartallozi attending IT training run by LASA (“they called me an ‘accidental techie,’” she laughs) — and here she picked up knowledge of the CTX program. Realizing that the scheme could provide the required software for free, CARIS could progress with the much-needed IT support and an upgrade.
It’s caused a great deal of optimism within the charity. “We have now ongoing IT support from the At-ta-che Solutions, wonderful new upgraded systems, and properly networked computers that run well,” Kartallozi says. “I have been testing on the upgraded database this morning; it’s fantastic — all the options for reporting give us new ways of monitoring outcomes and keeping client details.”
Kartallozi has already recommended CTX to other small charities. CARIS’s experience shows how a (relatively) small donation of software can offer a big boost to a hard-pressed organisation, in terms of productivity, security, and morale. “We would have had to struggle on with all the problems — getting the software for free was really helpful,” she says. “Now we have a new website on the way, and things are very positive.”