Being there for the people of Birmingham.

St Martin's Centre for Health & Healing logoWho are they?
ST MARTIN’S CENTRE FOR HEALTH AND HEALING.

Where are they?
Central Birmingham.

What do they do?
Provide counselling and practical assistance to vulnerable people in Birmingham.

How big are they?
Small staff; mainly volunteers

What did they receive?
20 x Mailshell Anti-Spam Desktop; 10 x Microsoft Office Professional Plus.

The outcome?
Unwanted and distressing spam has been eliminated.

“We’re right slap-bang in the middle of the largest retail outlet in the UK,” emphasises Tom Thompson. “The number of people who walk through our door is incredible.”

Tom looks after IT for the St Martin’s Centre for Health and Healing, a charity based in Birmingham’s famous Bull Ring. With two service strands (‘Counselling’ and ‘Helpdesk’) available to all who are in need of them, Tom stresses the sheer numbers that their volunteers and small staff team have to deal with.

“On a typical day we’ll have 20 people queuing when we arrive to open the Helpdesk,” reports Tom. “I could spend hours telling you their problems. Homeless people, those involved in serious domestic abuse, missing persons – anyone you can possibly think of.”

With the counselling service providing much-needed quick access to trained volunteers, the Helpdesk acts as a gateway to help, putting the user in touch with any assistance that might possibly be available to them in the region. “We’ll listen to their problem, log their details and then make some phone calls on their behalf,” explains Tom. “We also do some outreach work with vulnerable people - trying to draw them in to the system.”

counselling in Action Image

The administrative requirement behind this is substantial, especially given that all client records are anonymous, referred to by a number only. Fortunately the charity found a volunteer with Microsoft Access experience who was able to transform the back-end systems, and Tom is very clear as to the significance of this. “Without Microsoft Access, the Centre would not exist,” he says.

A particular issue for the charity has been the constant flow of unmanageable spam, and it is here where one of CTX’s newer donor partners came to the rescue. “We were getting hundreds and hundreds of spam emails a week,” reports Tom. “It was a huge nuisance to filter, and some of it was very distressing in content for our staff and volunteers. We looked at some commercial solutions, but the figures involved were out of the question.”

This is the financial reality of such an organisation - Tom freely admits that they struggle (a key lottery grant expires in a few months, and even where counselling sessions are provided at a cost to the charity of around £30, users are only invited to pay what they can afford on an anonymous basis). However, with Mailshell’s Anti-Spam Desktop now available by donation on the CTX programme, the charity’s spam issues have all but disappeared overnight.

Tom is keen to stress the value of CTX and its donor partners to charities like St Martin’s, and is very appreciative of their help. “Without CTX we could never have afforded this sort of solution,” he stresses. “The ordering process was a doddle. CTX are number one – fabulous!”

 
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