Fast Forward is Scotland’s national youthwork organisation specialising in risk-taking behaviours, prevention, and early intervention. They promote young people’s health and wellbeing through education and training. Established as a Scottish youthwork charity in 1987, they support children and young people, their parents and carers and the practitioners who work with them.
They work with social workers, teachers and youth workers providing a range of education around issues such as alcohol, drug and tobacco use and sexual health for young people.
One of the key challenges faced by Fast Forward was unifying their current communications – they needed to ensure all team members had the same handsets. They also had a negative experience in the past of being offered packages that did not suit their needs as a charity. Chris Read, Business Support Officer said:
“Previously we have lacked a unified solution – we have had some members with their own personal very new handsets and whereas some members of the team had much older handsets – and were submitting expenses claims which ends up being a bit more complicated than it really needs to be.
Often in the past, with other suppliers, for example an IT company that we could be outsourcing some of our work to – we will often explain our position and the financial constraints we are under as a charity. We accept that will sometimes mean structural or technical limitations on what we can achieve, but often they don’t listen to that and will come back with some super-duper package that would be more suited for a far larger organisation or a private organisation with 50 to 100 staff! But with Elaine it was just great, she really took it upon herself to find exactly what we were looking for.”
The GoodCall Solution
GoodCall set up 11 lines for the organisation. Their mobiles are used across a wide range of roles, from project workers to managerial level. With changes to their services due to coronavirus restrictions, it has made it easy for the team to stay connected.
The mobiles are predominantly used by the Project Officers within the team, including the Ask Dad project – a health education and training programme for dads and male carers in Edinburgh and the Lothians, addressing a range of health and wellbeing issues. The mobiles are also used by the Project Officers of the Scottish Gambling Education Hub which deals with gambling addiction, online gambling and gaming. Chris said:
“It was very, very easy to get started – it was just wonderful to work with GoodCall. They were very knowledgeable but at the same time very understanding. It was great that there was no pressure and it was not about sales or anything like that. The fact that GoodCall is a social enterprise does help and it meant that I knew I was working with people that already understood the third sector.”
One of the major benefits of unifying their communications was that it ensured that all members of the team had access to the right handsets for their roles which made it easier for the organisation to provide the right support. It also helped the organisation create defined boundaries between personal and work phones, which is vital in their work with young people. Chris said:
“It was important to ensure that everyone in the staff team felt they had the same access, and that the organisation was making an effort to treat everyone equally and I think this in turn had a good effect of staff morale.
We have quite a range of ages in our staff team, I think sometimes it can be the case that when you are young and have grown up with smartphones, it can be very straightforward. But for some of our older staff they might not have had the access or same expertise, but this is a way of ensuring everyone has the right support.”
The organisation has privacy and safeguarding obligations which were reinforced by their new set up. This helped them cope with the demand for services and ensured they could continue their vital work:
“In lockdown particularly, so much of what we do is working directly with young people, working with families, carers and parents as well as volunteers. We also need to communicate with a wide range of stakeholders involved in young people’s welfare including schools, pupil welfare and pupil guidance. As a charity working to safeguard young people, it’s so important to create those clear boundaries between personal and professional communication and these phones help us do that. It is also great that we can say to service users and other organisations that they can give us a call on these direct numbers – it ensures all calls are handled by the right person.”
“I would definitely recommend GoodCall, and if there is one thing that I would highlight above all… It is that Elaine really made the effort to listen our needs. We know that we could drop the team an email any time or just give them a call, and the times we have needed support they have got back to us very quickly. Our funders are really keen for us to move to more digital solutions and new ways of doing youth work online so working with GoodCall was something that really makes sense for us.”
Chris Read, Business Support Officer at Fast Forward