Ground Floor Project
You might say that the Ground Floor Project is the epitome of a community charity. Set up in 1981 by local people in the Calder Valley area of the Pennines, the organization serves a region with economic problems hidden beneath what, on the surface, might seem a perfect English rural idyll. One of the Project's main aims is to increase opportunities and benefits for disadvantaged people living in the regions.
Headquarters to the Project is an old mill building in the heart of Hebden Market. Here, along with an overflowing admin office, a thriving community center has been established. There's a print shop and a resource library, as well as three halls and several offices. A café is used by organizations from youth groups to adults with learning difficulties and senior citizens. There's a raft of training programs to address local needs.
CTX has already made a key difference in the provision of training in desktop publishing. "Before," smiles Jae Campbell, the Project's company secretary, "we could talk about Microsoft Publisher and teach about layout and design, but we'd have to describe in words how the student might achieve things on a PC."
A Microsoft and CTX donation has changed that. "We specifically needed Microsoft Publisher," explains Jae, "as that was what people were asking us for. We have to be user-led." The IT suite can now offer practical, hands-on training on this leading software, with twelve people already set to "graduate" in the first round.
Jae is sanguine about the financial realities of such a small charity. "Our core income is just £60,000 – 70,000 per year," he explains. "And much of that goes on the costs of running the building. But we achieve a lot, even if we're using anything we can get hold of — second-, even third-generation computers."
Microsoft Office upgrades from CTX have helped — now at least all workstations can run the same up-to-date software. "The fact that we could get so many user licenses was invaluable to an organization like ours," says Jae. "So many of the initiatives and groups need to use the PCs or offer their use. Now at least when a file goes to the print room, we can be confident that they can actually read it."
The Project also received a donation of Cisco networking equipment — something that will transform the historic building. "It's an old renovated mill," notes Jae, "and networking it has been a big problem. Besides, we couldn't have afforded the quality of Cisco." He rattles off the opportunities that he expects when the work is complete. "The Internet will be fully accessible, for example, for the youth groups in the café. We can show people volunteering opportunities on the web and offer training courses on web design. The community print shop is on the top floor. They'll be able to take orders over the Internet."