Moving from face-to-face to online
Following the national lockdown in March 2020 Adoption UK were forced to cancel their in-person community support groups. In April 2020 they hired Helen Leach VA Services to assist with moving their community support group services online. Rob Langley-Swain, Director of Membership, tells the story.
Adoption UK runs various community support groups across the UK. With the onset of a national lockdown in March 2020 we found ourselves having to move the service online. In addition to repurposing our regular community meet-ups we decided to organise expert webinars, to provide extra support for our membership base. It rapidly became clear that the extra work involved was going to exceed current capacity.
The team and I needed to continue providing a high-quality service for our members without stretching staff to breaking point. We required assistance setting up the Zoom sessions for the meetings and webinars, editing session recordings and uploading the finished product to the Adoption UK website. It was a time-consuming process that existing members of staff just didn’t have capacity for. Neither was there the budget available to hire a permanent member of staff.
Making the decision
We needed a flexible and reliable resource that could respond quickly to our needs from week to week. Although we have used agency staff in the past, we really felt that this wouldn’t meet our needs this time.
I worked with Helen in 2019, when she was the Event Manager for the Adoption UK Conference. Knowing that we needed someone who was adaptable, with the right work ethic, quick response times, professionalism (and who would charge a fair price), I picked up the phone.
Helen began working for Adoption UK in late April 2020. After a short introductory training session to get to grips with the internal processes, she took on the task of all the video processing that had accumulated, while the team and I got on with our day jobs. The backlog was cleared quickly and turnaround times reduced. Weekly calls with Communities and Support Manager Clare Tyler meant that we were kept up-to-date with how things were progressing and we always knew when we would see results.
Originally I asked Helen to set aside 10 hours per week for the work needed. Once the initial backlog had been worked through it became clear that she was completing the work more quickly than originally estimated. Helen was able to take on some extra tasks to help out other members of the team, including assisting our Scotland team with social media scheduling and drafting an entry to the Children and Young People’s Awards.
Before Helen started working with the team, the typical time between a live webinar and the recording becoming available could be up to a week. With Helen on board the turnaround time decreased to 24 hours. There are now more than 70 hours’ worth of videos online for members to view on demand. I estimate that Helen saved the team more than 20 hours per week over the 6-month period she worked with us.
It is invaluable having someone like Helen on hand to step in when the organisation has work that stretches internal capacity. She gets the job done. She is trustworthy, highly skilled and one of the most organised and thorough people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her services to other organisations if they need to improve productivity, increase capacity and see fantastic results.