Telecom firm’s charity cheque keeps teddies mobile

A travelling play-bus filled with games, toys and teddies is just one of the projects to benefit from a £10,000 donation made this month to a family support charity by Online Systems of Cumbria.

The Carlisle telecoms firm was able to bolster the funds of the county’s Howgill Family Centre through a new aid scheme it has launched for fund-raising bodies and schools.

Online Systems’ scheme provides organisations with low-rental mobile phones on which free calls can be made between users. The company then donates to the charity the amount it would normally receive from the mobile network provider for introducing a new customer.

In the case of Whitehaven-based Howgill Family Centre, the donation totalled £10,000 – and will be used to help support a wide range of initiatives for thousands of carers and children in the region.

Founded thirty years ago as a small nursery group, the charity now runs play schemes, workshops, befriender projects and group events for families required to cope with many different issues.

Now, many of the Centre’s sixty paid staff and sixty volunteers carry mobile phones supplied to them by Online Systems, and are able to communicate between each other and its offices at no charge.

It’s not just a convenience, says the charity’s business officer, Eric Batty. There are also health and safety reasons why workers need to be able to maintain contact when working alone in the field.

This is the third year of the donation arrangement with Howgill, during which time Online Systems has handed over some £30,000 to the Centre.

Now other local organisations can benefit from the scheme, said company director Barry Maxey, and a number of schools in north Cumbria have already received similar donations over the past year.

“For many bodies, the ability to make free calls between mobiles is often incentive enough – but we are very happy to provide the cash bonus as well to not-for-profit organisations,” said Barry.

“The whole mobile landscape has changed dramatically in recent years with regard to pricing, and we would urge any charity or business to take a look at their existing arrangements if these have not been reviewed recently,” he added.

Online Systems, which was formed in 1992, has grown to become one of the largest independent designer and installer of business telephone systems in the North West.

Meanwhile, the Howgill Family Centre says it will be using part of its donation to support the popular travelling play-bus project. The fun-filled bus brings entertainment for youngsters to enjoy with their carers who also get the chance to share experiences with each other and Howgill staff.

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