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Overview

South Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service (SoLDAS), delivered by Boston Women’s Aid, is a domestic abuse charity providing refuge and support for victims and their children, working across remote rural parts of Lincolnshire.

Before the first lockdown, SoLDAS updated their IT and phone systems to enable their team to work remotely.

This means that inbound calls can be answered from anywhere. Having these systems in place also enables the organisation to redirect inbound calls quickly to the relevant person, meaning that there is a smoother and faster journey in collecting information from callers.

Staff efficiency has greatly increased, because if a team member is working in a remote location where they might not be getting a high volume of work, they can continue to help in other areas, such as taking referrals and supporting different aspects of service delivery.

Recipe status

This recipe has been in use since September 2019.

We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem, but we believe South Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service’s learnings could be very useful to other organisations.

Users and needs served

  • As a member of staff, I need to be able to access calls and deliver services remotely
  • As a service user, I need to access telephone support in lockdown

Software and tools used

Phone System

SoLDAS decided to put out expressions of interest as they did not feel they had the knowledge to look into updating these systems themselves.

Cost

The cost will vary depending on the platform you decide to go with.

Considerations

Your trustees need to have confidence in both the project and the technology to make this investment.

The equipment you use, such as laptops, can be limiting and you may need to update any existing equipment.

There may be security concerns to consider.

Recipe steps

1. Create a wishlist

Look at what you currently have in place, what you want to do, and where the gaps between the two are.

Think outside the box and consider how you might want to utilise your systems for future projects, as well as the work you’re doing at present.

2. Consider getting external help

If you feel that you need help from external parties, you can consider putting out a call of interest for additional support.

Be clear about what you want when collaborating with a third party, as contractors may try to give you something that doesn’t quite fit. Having a clear expression of what you need can ensure that the final product chosen is best suited to your organisation.

Meet a variety of third parties or contractors to gauge who could work best for you, and also if they provide ongoing support.

3. Look into different systems

Do your research and take some time to consider what updates are best for your charity.

Consider an option where you are able to include ongoing support from the company providing the software.

4. Update current technology

Make sure your staff’s laptops have updated software to work with your new systems.

5. Train staff

Consider outsourcing training to ensure your team is taught by someone who has proficient knowledge of the systems you have put in place.

Make sure that you have material and clear guidance for staff to know what to do should something go wrong.

6. Consider safeguarding

When working remotely, ensure you have an emergency PIN number set on the phone that will direct staff to support should something go wrong. Work on a contingency plan that all your staff are briefed on.

7. Keep software updated

Updating your system will ensure that it is futureproofed for any projects and ways of working that may evolve in your organisation.

8. Gather feedback from staff

Use team meetings as an opportunity for staff to consider any changes that may be needed so that you can continue to update your software if and when needed.

Having open discussions can also help team members to learn from one another.

Guidance

Don’t try to update phone and IT systems by yourself if you haven’t got the necessary expertise.

Make sure you have quick and easy support from your provider or contractor to ensure that if something goes wrong an issue can be quickly dealt with, which will ease service delivery.

Don’t be afraid to look outside of usual providers to ensure you find a system that works best for you.

Risks

When working remotely, a team member might have tech issues and not be able to sort it out.

There is a risk of obsolescence. Make sure you build in updates and futureproof the software.

Thanks

Many thanks to South Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service for contributing this recipe.

Licence

This recipe is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

That means you are free to copy, redistribute, and build on the text of this recipe, but only for non-commercial purposes (if you want to use it for commercial purposes, get in touch with us at [email protected]). You must give credit to both Catalyst and South Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse Service and link back to this page. If you build on this recipe then you must share your version under this same licence.

Recipe published on April 26th, 2021. Last updated August 6th, 2021