We’re working with some of the best organisations across the VCSE sector in Northern Ireland through Techies in Residence. We asked each of them their views on why they got involved in the project, and what they want to get out of it.
Tell us a little about your organisation.
Arthritis Care is a charity that supports the nearly 300,000 people in Northern Ireland who have arthritis. Living every day in severe pain can make people with arthritis feel depressed and fatigued and everyday activities that others take for granted are often extremely difficult and time consuming. A third of people with arthritis feel like they have no one to talk to.
Arthritis Care has a range of services, support networks and self-management programmes that enable people of all ages with arthritis to manage their condition better such as: Staying Connected, Living Well With Arthritis, and, Young People and Families. Around 600 children and young people in Northern Ireland have arthritis and the Young People and Families programme helps children and young people to combat the isolation that comes from being “too young to have arthritis” and the general lack of awareness of arthritis in young people due to how uncommon it is. The programme runs events for young people that create opportunities for them to meet people their own age who have arthritis, get advice on how to manage their condition better and have a laugh. We also are building an online community to enable young people with the condition to connect with others online, raise awareness of our service and encourage young people to come along to our events.
What do you hope to achieve from the Techies in Residence Programme?
We would like to reach more young people with arthritis who are not currently connected with our service and make our online community more accessible to them. With Techies in Residence we want to create an app that will attract a new group of people to the Young People and Families programme so that they too can benefit from our events and online community. The app will provide an engaging tool that will help young people take control of their condition and communicate more effectively to the doctor about how the condition impacts on their everyday lives, leading to better health outcomes for all.
How much technology does your organisation currently use?
Like most offices, we use PCs and Microsoft packages every day – we have a website, a CRM and a document server. Aside from that we have a social media presence and use some tablets for our young people’s outreach.
What’s the largest impact that Techies in Residence will have on your organisation?
It will have a huge impact – we will be able to reach young people who we have never been able to connect with before, increasing our online community, which should increase the number of new young people we see coming to events. Not only that, it has opened a world up to us that was previously seen as something that was way beyond our capabilities. It has given us a better grasp of what can be achieved in 11 weeks and we already have high hopes for the future about what we can do next.