Trend Micro Interview with Richard Fountain

In this video, Gary O’Connell – European MSP Director for Trend Micro interviews Richard Fountain CEO of ITVET

Gary O’Connell

In this case study, we have Richard Fountain of ITVET. Welcome Richard. So, to get us started, can you please give us an overview of what ITVET do and the role you play yourself in ITVET.

Richard Fountain

Sure, well hi Gary. Well, ITVET is a typical I suppose, well not typical. I shouldn’t say that. ITVET are a manager services provider and we’ve been going since 2007. So, we are proud really because a lot of what we do is taking a complete outsource from our clients. So, we cover just about a full spectrum of anything that is technical really. And, we have a depth and breadth because of being an MSP or Managed Services Provider. That enables us to do that, but we were founded really from what we saw as a gap in the market back in 2007 because although technology really in many ways was still in its infancy in 2007, certainly in terms of how businesses were adopting technology. What we saw was a bit of gap really, between technical companies and their service delivery, and if you like layman, layman on the end, not really being able to understand that and I felt that back then with my Co-Founder, there was a definite distinct gap between the technology companies and their clients. And, with respect, I don’t feel it was being delivered in a correct way that was simplistic enough for those companies to understand and to be reassured to start adopting those technologies into their business. That, and probably a lack of customer care more than anything. So, what we decided to do was found a company that actually addressed a lot of those issues. But more than anything else we didn’t go on a sort of a heavy marketing drive. We decided to use customer service, believe it or not, as our marketing tool. And touch wood, over the years, we’ve grown year on year steadily ever since, really sustainably and that’s why our reputation in the industry is fantastic and I’m pleased to say now we’ve now got hundreds of clients and thousands of end points.

Gary O’Connell

So, picking you up on your first comment, not very typical is probably the best way to describe your success so far. I mean, identifying that gap back in 2007 was as you said a key driver around the growth you guys have seen since. But if we bring it back to the beginning, you mentioned around service delivery, probably in simple terms, why MSP? Why be a Managed Service Provider?

Richard Fountain

Well because I think if you want to deliver that level of service it’s virtually impossible to do that unless you’re covering every part of a client’s technology suite. So, you know because you can’t if you have access into domain names, into all the servers, into emails and everything else. You’ll then depend on other providers which may or may not work as well as you do. So, but it’s also being able to structure that client’s IT properly, and work with them and mold it around what they do. Remember they are not IT specialists; you are and that’s what they depend on. So, the Managed Services model, you know, let’s be fair, it’s been around for quite a while and it endures, and there’s now thousands of service providers out there, and the endurance for that very reason and if you don’t have that ability to look after everything for your client, then your’e going to start struggling when it comes to you know, the unlikely event of an outage, that you’re going to find life a little bit more difficult actually.

Gary O’Connell

Just to kind of stick on the idea that Managed Services has been around for quite some time and it’s something as a vendor we’re struggling with right now. Managed Services are a SaaS model and what we’re finding within our SaaS model is that we have a lot of partners using legacy on-prem solutions through a Managed Services model because the solutions weren’t there 4, 5, 6, 7 years ago. I see you guys; you guys seem to be a very early adopter of the SaaS model. Could you just talk us through when that decision was made because even when I look back through our reports on you guys, you’re a very very early adopter in relation to MSPs we have. So that must have been a hugely brave and almost risky decision at the time.

Richard Fountain

Well it didn’t seem like it at the time. I think, you know, we’d like to feel that we keep on top of any emerging technology or ways and structures, the way to structure different services and solutions but it’s an interesting point you know, from our perspective, excuse the expression, but it was a no brainer really. We saw what was emerging, and you know even back then we were putting together solutions as a service and what they call hardware as a service, was already a solution as a service for us. And so, we would put together a complete package of all of the equipment, all of the software, all the support, and any other services that a client would need, and then price it up by the user, and then spread that payment over say a three-year contact. So, for us it was easy to mold those packages together, and again that fitted so nicely into that Managed Services model. You know, a fixed budget for all of their IT, just not part. And your’e right, the legacy software, and the legacy equipment were something that in some ways used to frustrate us a little bit because we knew how good the model was, but it was convincing clients back in 2007 and you know a few years after to actually take that leap of faith. But of course, there was a cost side to that as well, you know clients didn’t see necessarily the savings. I don’t feel back then the business was quite as switched on for the sort of sustainability side of things which they are much more receptive to that now. So yeah, we’re working with our clients to sort of save carbon, reduce their carbon footprint and obviously look at resources generally looking after our planet. So that’s a big part of what we do.

Gary O’Connell

So, if we look at your customers and I suppose take it from the security angle, obviously, you know you’ve referenced this, and I think you’ve referenced this already with your decisions you make in your organisation is driven by the demands by the customer. From a security perspective, what are the biggest threats you guys are seeing when talking to your customers today? I think today’s probably, you know it’s more important than ever in relation to what’s gone on in the last twelve months, so what are you guys seeing when you’re talking to your customers now on a daily basis?

Richard Fountain

Yeah, I think it had already started in quite a big way in terms of the sort of multi-layered networks principle. But, yeah you’re right, since the pandemic came along we were lucky that we were already set up, you know really well to sort of start working completely on a remote model quite early apart from our project teams who from a project delivery is an essential service  provider, we stayed open, but certainly from our clients the ones that if you like have held back from being fully mobile in terms of how they could work they then came to us immediately and we literally, our teams worked round the clock to sort of bring a warp speed almost to go from a lot of office bound working to the remote, the remote only model, and to cope with that. And I think it highlighted a lot to people the difference between the sort of cloud-based model to the physical office, and yes it was enforced, but it changed it completely. But I still feel there’s some way to go yet to get that message across to businesses generally that actually this traditional flat network physical site is now being expanded out to your enterprise. Your organisation, is spread around multiple endpoints that could be geographically dispersed all over the world. You know that traditional network is gone forever and whereas we might think of traditional fire rules and switches cabling, now we’re thinking about multiple devices, mobiles, laptops, workstation at home, and of course the other important thing, is the connectivity, and so you know suddenly we’ve got people working from home so much that we have now that extra consideration, and companies have to make that extra consideration, how to keep that safe? People safe and keep that security as good as if they were in their physical building. So that’s probably the key area, but of course on top of that, you know as we look at, you mentioned 2007, and how different it was back then with legacy systems, of course moving to the cloud is fantastic and having browser-based solutions is also fantastic and being able to access from anywhere in the world 24/7 is also great. But of course, you do then open up more interfaces and that then exposes risk. It doesn’t matter who the provider is, Microsoft whoever, it always enables a bit more risk and of course hackers see that as more opportunity, so there’s more interfaces to go after. So, at that point then, that’s when you have to consider at that point is that you have to look at this model differently and therefore, you’re now getting greater incidence of more concerted, more organised attacks knowing that people are working remotely, and you know the hackers move really quickly and they understand. So, for example they are using more and more text messaging which is not on a network but it’s on a user’s device but of course that user’s device then unifies the SMS network into their business network and so they click on a link which comes from a text and suddenly they’re actually then exposing their company potentially to threat. So, that’s the difference.

Gary O’Connell

So, on that idea that, which we’re only so aware of the new risks that are being opened up in relation to this, we say this fully mobile, fully kind of interconnected world that we have right now. You guys are users of our solutions around our wire-free services and solutions.  Obviously as I said, pretty much a SaaS company. Can you just give any viewers that we have, or anybody who’s listening to this, a case study of the benefits and advantages that SaaS solutions and service type purposely built to be MSP solutions bring you guys and bring your customers? 

Richard Fountain

Well, the first thing is, it’s funny when you mention the acronym MS, or Managed Services Provider, we have more or less changed that now to Managed Solutions Provider. And I think it’s about, you know stitching together various applications and services to create a package if you like, a security suite as it were and that’s part of what we do because each client is different, each industry they come from will vary in the sort of services and solutions they need and equally how they use them changes a lot so when you’re pulling together, able to piece together a solution, that becomes almost bespoke and that SaaS model again sits really nice with that. You know, they do rely on a Managed Solutions or Managed Services Provider to use their expertise, their depth and breadth skills that we carry to look at these things so for example when you talk about Trend Worry-Free we adopted that very early, I mean I think in 2007 or whatever it was that we started, we jumped on Trend at that point as you say it was SaaS already, but we were convinced that it was the only way back then to look at all of your endpoints easily, even if they weren’t necessary in building and controlled from a cloud base so that still endures but now we really see the value of that and so that’s kind of why, it’s quite an easy sale for us really to convince clients now that that’s the right way forward and the best way to protect their systems and solutions.

Gary O’Connell

Richard, if we take a step back and then focus as you guys as a company. There’s something you mentioned earlier on, I wanted to jump on it straight away, but I said I’ll hold back for a second. You mentioned around carbon footprint, which I’m assuming this is something that you guys think about and that’s quite important to you guys. Is this something that now you consciously think about as a business, a business owner, as a business leader in relation to the solutions and the way you’re working with your customers?

Richard Fountain

Very much so. I mean even before the pandemic we were, had been for years, been very active in not just the carbon side of things but also looked at the sort of corporate responsibility as well. We’ve always been very active to reach out and something that I have personally always believed in is that if you want to put back into society, if you’ve got a skill, or your’e able to deliver a service to someone free of charge, which actually your cost of delivery or purchase in that case is that much lower and that’s the way the path that you should tread. So, for example eight years ago, we installed a free public Wi-Fi service into the town of Bishop’s Stortford which is still where our head office is. We did that free of charge for the community, we maintained it and provided connectivity ever since and the idea in principle was to break down the digital divide and allow people access to online services who may not be able to access the internet so freely. So little initiatives like that, Of course, there was a cost, and the company did benefit from the PR, but the point is our cost of delivery was quite low and it was our skill set, if you like, to do that and now we’ve scaled that up. We work with many different partners; we’ve come out with a new initiative this year called FreePurposing and I don’t know if we’ve picked it up on social media but there was the laptops for schools’ campaign which we linked with the BBC for that. They were really helpful, and they featured us on BBC news and this year alone, we’ve donated over 600 laptops to schools to enable children to get online and that’s been something that taking it, take nothing away, it’s been a lot of hard work by our guys who have spent a lot of their own time doing this. And, you know they worked really really hard to do that. And we took donations from all over the U.K., but we also reached out to our clients, and some of our clients actually chipped in, with providing some hard drives to replace with brand new SSD drives for laptops. Other partners who did logistics, did deliveries for us. So, and that’s what we’re going to scale up, we’ve now threaded that in to part of our operation, so that if any company comes to us or potential client and they want to place an order for laptops, for every single laptop they buy, we’ll collect the old laptop, refurbish it, do a data destruction with clinical software, issue a certificate for them, and then they can nominate the school or charity of their choice and we’ll deliver a refurbished laptop for every one we purchase. So, and we’ve committed to do that for the long term now.

Gary O’Connell

That’s absolutely fantastic. I sometimes find with tech companies that when we look at Corporate Social Responsibility, we sometimes just take it away from the tech. What I love what you guys have done is very much, it’s almost like that digital or tech Corporate Social Responsibility. You’re using your expertise and I suppose your knowledge, in relation to what you can give back to the community. I think that’s absolutely fantastic. So, from an ITVET perspective then, if we look at you guys back as a company again, what can we expect from you guys next? If you don’t mind me saying Richard, you sound like you’re very, very clued into what’s going on in the world from a tech perspective but in the world from a Corporate Social perspective. You’ve used terms that you traditionally wouldn’t associate, if you don’t mind me saying, with a typical tech company. It’s not all business driven, it’s quite altruistic at times from the way you’re speaking. So, what can we expect from you guys next, what can your customers and potential customers expect from ITVET from the coming months and the coming years?

Richard Fountain

Well, much more of the same really. I mean you say that about the altruistic side of it and yeah, it is, it’s something we are very, very committed to, but you know again the way that we’re integrating with our business is very sustainable, it’s commercially viable for us. So, there’s still a bottom line, we appreciate that, obviously we’ve grown considerably, as I said we now have hundreds of clients and thousands of endpoints. So from the Corporate Responsibility, yeah, it is going to grow, and we are committed to do that, but it will be certainly maintainable. In terms of innovations, you know as a company we’re working on, we’re also a development company as well. We’ve got actual software applications which are also SaaS based and in fact we use microservices for all our applications that we develop, and so a lot of that now is increasing the quality of the automated systems and services we’re providing our clients and using AI a little more, self-healing systems, and also that fits in very nicely with the Worry-Free XDR as well, which is again because now we’ve got these sort of more fluid layered networks, XDR for us works perfectly in that way because something again Managed Services Providers always had the benefit of seeing activity, malicious activity kicking off in one part of an organisation’s technology suite and XDR does exactly that, and we’re very pleased that product has come along and we’re embracing it as you know and started rolling it out so we will be knocking on the door very firmly of our clients. It is a genuine thing, as I say, now we’ve got fluid networks, they need to have that and the difference is, it empowers our technicians greatly to give them answers much more quickly but it gives them a correlation between what’s going off. If you deal with say one incident on a mobile phone and that’s fine, you need of course to deal with that but if there’s an implication, you know the XDR tools actually gives them the correlations with what that might mean on a wider scale and of course again being a Managed Services Provider, we’ve got many clients, so if we see a pattern developing, XDR can highlight that pattern to us and allows us to pick it up on all of our clients and get ahead of the curve so yeah that’s kind of you know fits neatly in with what we do.

Gary O’Connell

Brilliant. Well Richard thank you so much for your time this morning, obviously from a Trend Micro perspective, best of luck with the XDR project but more importantly, best of luck with the expansion around your CSR activity as well. It was just fantastic to hear some of the stuff that you’re doing in the community and some of the stuff you’re doing with the local schools. I couldn’t propose working with you guys more, you’re just an absolute pleasure to work with from a vendor perspective. So best of luck, stay safe, stay healthy, and thank you.

Richard Fountain

Thanks very much Gary, really appreciate that, thank you.

Gary O’Connell

Take care, bye bye.

Asset manager in her smart building

How Smart Building Features Attract More Tenants

Smart buildings are the way forward to efficiently deliver services into your buildings. Smart building features make running your properties economical, reducing the environmental impact of your buildings, and reducing your expenditure. These features attract premium tenants whilst keeping your current tenants satisfied. Prioritising your tenants’ wellbeing by creating the perfect ambiance involving temperature, light, and ventilation results in strong returns from satisfied tenants. With a strong digital strategy and reliable IT support, your smart building can reduce any rental voids. By appealing to a more affluent demographic, smart buildings increase your profits and optimise every part of your space for peak performance with enticing features.

What is a Smart Building?

What makes a building ‘smart’ is the use of technology to share information about the building’s various functions. This information is then used to optimise the building’s performance by automating ventilation, heating, and much more. It is through Information of Things (IoT) devices including sensors, online connectivity, and software that smart buildings can control various systems automatically. They use data from sensors to automatically correct and adjust their own settings. For example, they can sense temperature fluctuations and optimise their environment. IoT is essentially everyday items including doors and toilets, which are networked together using the internet.  These sensors can react to stimuli including sound and light to provoke the device to perform a functional response such as reducing light.

A smart building dashboard inside a workplace

The Features of a Smart Building

Connected Sensors

All the core systems are linked. Each sensor is attached to a surface or object. These objects then send data wirelessly to the cloud. Sensors on a desk or bin send their data streams wirelessly to one network. ITVET’s smart building experts set up and maintain your network with your smart building strategy at its heart.  

Collection of Data

Each sensor plays a key role in collecting useful data that is used to automate your building systems. This can include which desks are used during the day, which rooms are entered, and how often your toilets are used. Smart buildings generate a large volume of data meaning you can make informed decisions on the running of your workplace. Tangible data sets mean that you don’t have to guess or make costly mistakes.

Automation using Data

Through automation, changes can be made to your workplace without you needing to be involved. For example, sensors on your blinds will monitor the amount of light entering your workplace. Too bright? They automatically close the blinds the right amount for your tenants’ comfort. Too dark? – The blinds automatically open and the lights become brighter.

How Smart Building Features Benefit You

A person's phone with a smart building dashboard

Occupancy monitoring and IoT sensors are fundamental to cutting costs

Occupancy monitoring reveals your tenants’ whereabouts, frequency, and visit duration in real-time. This is valuable data. Maybe your conference room is only used on Tuesdays. Perhaps it could be booked by tenants on other days of the week for a quiet day of focused work. Planning efficient facility management is extremely difficult without information on how many people use certain spaces, and how often. Collecting data opens your eyes to exactly how your building estate is actually used. Are your tenants dwelling in hotspots? Find out why, and then you can enhance your clients’ working environment.

Data-led decisions

Are you making the most of your building estate? Is each square foot reaching its full potential? Your data will tell you this.  Smart building sensors collect data 24/7. ITVET’s data analytics software clearly displays your collected data metrics delivering valuable insights. Having clear access to your property’s data analytics increases your yields as your decision-making becomes data-driven.

How does data save expenditure?

Using ITEVT’s trusted data analytics software, you can arrange for a timetabled report to be sent to your cleaning staff. This will specify exactly which areas need to be cleaned. The sensors detect what has been touched during the day. Not only does this save time, but it also saves on expenses for cleaning products. Sensors can be placed in bins to notify cleaning staff when they need to be emptied. Your tenants can rely on cleanliness and comfort within their workspace. You even have access to which toilets need cleaning; maybe the end cubicle has not been used for a few days. Again, why cleaning something that doesn’t need it wastes valuable resource and cost. This data, tells you the best time for cleaning staff to enter that does not interrupt your tenants’ workday.

Decreasing your carbon footprint

Providing heating and air conditioning for your buildings is both expensive and can be damaging to the environment if it is constantly being used. Occupancy monitoring means you know where your tenants are. If no one is currently working on one of your floors, then why do you need to heat it? If nobody has walked through the corridors in over five minutes, then why are the lights still on?

Using real-time occupancy data, smart IoT devices can control elements such as room temperature and lighting and make your smart building more energy efficient. You can ensure the needs of your tenants are always met without excessive damage to our environment.

A smart building next so trees

Guaranteed energy savings with no hassle

Recent research has revealed the British population is wasting £4.4 billion every single year by leaving lights on unnecessarily. This is a devasting figure. By using IoT features, the lights, heating, air conditioning, and equipment can be automatically switched off when they’re not in use. You don’t have to rely on a member of staff to close down systems and turn lights off. This gives you peace of mind that someone’s forgetfulness will not cost you money.

Managing building energy usage in this efficient way slashes power costs significantly. With utility costs rising quickly, there has never been more of an imperative to do this. Energy usage is one area that weighs heavily on many Building Managers’ minds.

Eco-friendly smart features attract a wider clientele

You can promote your asset as sustainable because of these energy savings. This makes your facilities stand out in a crowded property market. The smart features attract wider demographics including eco-conscious individuals. This demographic is typically more affluent and less price-sensitive, enabling you to charge premium rentals and deliver stronger returns. If their business or personal values prioritise sustainability, they tend to choose the sustainable option. Your premises ranks higher with their environmental preferences than buildings without smart features.

ITVET support hundreds of building estates throughout the UK. Our expert management of their IT estate and network enables them to make the most of smart building features to manage their buildings efficiently. Our property management software aggregates data from a multitude of different devices and assets. This makes management easier and reporting more straightforward.

How Smart Building Features Ensure your Tenants are Satisfied

A smart building manager handing keys over to a tenant

Tenant Productivity and Comfort

Through building automation based on real-time data, your tenants always have a perfectly engineered and managed environment. They never feel too cold, or too warm in their workplace. They don’t experience headaches from too much artificial light. They always find clean facilities and equipment. The reliable management of your building benefits their productivity. If they have a productive day in your workplace, over time, they associate their productivity with the ambiance created by your smart building features and keep returning.

A New York Times article states “evidence shows when it comes to decision making, indoor air may matter more than we have realized.” The article describes a study that placed workers in rooms with different carbon dioxide levels. Everyone had to complete a test. The higher the carbon dioxide in the room, the worse the test-takers did. Carbon dioxide levels can be monitored, and room ventilation actively managed with smart building automation.

Tenants can use mobile applications to reserve their preferred hot desk or workspace before their visit. They can be guaranteed the perfect environment to ramp up their own productivity.

The thermostat of a smart building

Tenant Safety

Your primary concern should be the safety of your tenants. No one should ever be harmed using your facilities. A potential risk in buildings is inefficient fire and safety hazard procedures. Smart building features detect any faults with your equipment before problems occur. This could be printers, computers, lights, anything that could lead to a fire. Your smart building technology can automatically arrange for someone to fix these issues at the earliest moment possible. Your tenants are never waiting long periods for technicians to be called.

Tenant Health

Since 2020, our eyes have been opened to the reality of viruses and other illnesses that can be spread between people. Overcrowding causes discomfort for workers. Without technology, it is difficult to know when a specific space has reached full capacity. Too many people in the same space impacts air quality and leads to noise distraction. Through occupancy monitoring, you can detect overcrowding and prevent it. Maybe you find too many people gathering around a printer, showing you that this area would benefit from another one. Sensors on surfaces and objects detect when they have been touched. This data can be used to know when they require cleaning.

How ITVET can Help

Any building can adopt smart building features with support from expert smart building consultants.

Having a digital strategy

ITVET works to create a tailored digital strategy for your asset that will fill all your data and reporting requirements. Your digital strategy is what makes the development of your smart building project seamless and hassle-free. Your digital strategy drives the building stage of your smart building. Working with a vast array of subcontractors for various parts of a smart building project can become really complex and chaotic. Having an overarching network, systems and data strategy, means that you do not need to rely on the compliance of multiple subcontractors. There is a clear and tailored vision that is expertly executed from day one.

The importance of expertise and support

Smart buildings work efficiently because all the individual data streams are sent wirelessly to a network. What happens if this network is down? ITVET are leading providers of IT support and we monitor your network 24/7. We provide security for your network. This security is designed to protect the confidentiality and accessibility of your network and data from online attackers. Our expertise is from our team of smart building specialists who have done this before on a vast scale. Together we have delivered many successful smart building projects.

ITVET Smart Building Project Examples

One Heddon Street Co-Working space

One Heddon Street

One Heddon Street‘s strapline is Work. Space. Redefined. One Heddon Street ensures workers have the perfect environment for productivity. They offer flexible memberships for tenants to use their space. Smart building features really elevate the space, making it an attractive workspace.  

The selling points include:

  • 1GB of resilient Wi-Fi.
  • Thermal comfort – Tenants have access to change the temperature of where they are seating to suit them.
  • Biodiversity – There is a living wall, indoor garden and trees are planted on each floor to create a relaxing ambiance.
  • Indoor air quality – The fresh air supply to the offices is 50% above the minimum recommended level.

The Crystal

The Crystal holds accreditation for being one of the world’s greenest buildings. This stunning venue successfully hosts events in the Royal Docks, London. The smart building has seven equipped meeting rooms, a state-of-the-art auditorium, and other event spaces. The smart building features allow The Crystal to attract the eco-conscious clientele to host their events there.

What makes The Crystal stand out?

  • 80% of its hot water is heated by solar energy and ground source heat pumps.
  • 70% less CO2 emissions compared to other offices in the UK.
  • Tenants can easily control lighting, temperature, microphone volume, all from a tablet or phone.  

A smart building begins with smart design followed by careful engineering, and then cabling and infrastructure. It does not end there. A smart building’s features run on a network backbone that must be maintained through expert IT support. Smart building features attract premium tenants. They are the most cost-effective approach to running your property asset. Want to find out how our specialist team can transform your building? Get in touch today.

VolkerWessels UK builds on local circular economy with ITVET, donating laptops to local communities

VolkerWessels UK has underlined its commitment to reinforcing and building a circular economy for the good of everyone, promoting sustainability and supporting local communities, by donating 90 laptops with the assistance of ITVET.

At the start of the pandemic, it was widely reported that local schools and communities were in desperate need of computer hardware, such as laptops and tablets, for home schooling. This sparked the interest of a few junior members of VolkerWessels UK’s ICT team, who enquired whether the business would be able to assist with the repurposing of laptops that had outlived their ‘best before’ date for business usage, but still had lots of life still left in them.

This initiative prompted a new working relationship between VolkerWessels UK and ITVET, an IT company with headquarters in Bishop’s Stortford. ITVET strongly believe in “FreePurposing”. They take a ‘not for profit’ approach to provide the costs, skills and labour needed to support the Laptops for School programme.

Once ICT had removed the hard drives from the laptops, to prevent any data security issues, the shells were then delivered to ITVET, who in turn refurbished them and installed new donated SSD hard drives, before distributing to schools and charities that were greatly in need.

In addition to refurbishing used laptops via third party clients such as VolkerWessels UK, and distributing them to schools and local communities, ITVET also runs a programme, whereby for every new laptop purchased directly from them, they will also donate a refurbished one to a community or charity chosen by the purchaser.

Emma Ward, head of sustainability and inclusion, said: “When we were approached with this idea of ‘giving back’ to the community, it really struck a chord, and we are so pleased to be able to assist and be a small part of this circular economy drive.

“We have now made the commitment internally that all opportunities will be explored to donate or re-purpose our owned ICT equipment before it gets sent for recycling or disposal.”

Richard Fountain of ITVET commented: “We are so grateful to VolkerWessels UK for their significant donation of laptops to our Laptops for Schools project. We are honoured to have collaborated with them. Their donation has really boosted the number of devices we’ve been able to FreePurpose. We are so pleased to see the “FreePurposing” movement gathering momentum. We’ve seen a recent increase in laptops donated and reached some sizeable milestones with our fundraising to fund the installation of new hard drives. Word is spreading that we can really drive value from the valuable resources of our devices, rather than sending them to landfill. By donating to charities and schools, the scheme also provides digital inclusion to those who don’t have reliable access to devices for their learning. We look forward to further driving the FreePurposing scheme, with its own website coming soon.”

Announcing ITVET’s Nominated Charity of the Year

Wiggly Willow Cafe, Bishops Stortford. Syd Perry with members of the social club. The club is going for charitable status. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (13704855)

ITVET’s core values and purpose are to prioritise sustainability, investing in our team and our local community. We want to actively make a difference through our actions. Therefore, we are thrilled to announce that Wiggly Willow is ITVET’s nominated cause for 2021! Sitting within the heart of our local community, Wiggly Willow is an incredible not-for-profit organisation that we are delighted to be working with. They run an affordably priced café that focuses on supporting adults with special educational needs, delivering low-cost training within the community. They enable the people they support to gain valuable life skills, training and work experience that deeply enriches their lives in so many ways.  

This year, we will be working closely with them, by sharing our digital skills and resources, to support their IT systems and network connectivity. We are also focusing our fundraising efforts on our partner during 2021. During the year, our team are planning to host a number of events in aid of Wiggly Willow.  

Richard Fountain, CEO of ITVET shared his feelings on our valued partnership… “We are so pleased to be working with Wiggly Willow this year. We believe that the work they do is invaluable and helps people that are often overlooked or forgotten in the not-for-profit sphere. The fact that they provide training and support which actively enables people with learning difficulties to gain meaningful employment and life skills makes such a difference. It’s incredible to see how they are enriching people’s lives within our community of Bishop’s Stortford and makes it an honour for us to be able to support them.” 

The History of Wiggly Willow  

In March 2018,The Café’s Owner, Sid Perry started Wiggly Willow. Sid has been caring for people with learning disabilities since an early age and has previously worked in Mencap’s Grove Cottage in a managerial role. With the help of some kind volunteers, Sid acquired a lease and opened up the café on a charitable basis. It did not take long to flourish!  

By mid-2019, the café was proving a success, needing 3 new staff members, as it continued to grow.Wiggly Willow registered with East Herts Council “Framework” to provide services directly to their clients with learning disabilities. These services provide phenomenal support and a chance for all those who attend to socialise and learn new skills. 

At the Heart of Our Community 

Driving up Hockerill Street, it is hard to miss Wiggly Willow’s bright green signage with their mantra: “More Than Just a Coffee Shop”. We couldn’t agree more. There is both an eat-in and takeaway menu. The coffee shop has a delicious array of homemade food, (we recommend a large slice of their chocolate sponge cake!) and hot drinks. It also provides a multitude of services that are enriching our community.  

Wiggly Willow’s Services: 

  • Work Experience – There are around 2 people who are given support to deliver kitchen services every day. This has been very successful with many people moving on to hold down permanent jobs when they complete their training. As part of their work experience, their clients work 1-1 alongside staff members to learn all aspects of working in a coffee shop. It is a very relaxed environment, they work at their own pace. From this work experience, practical skills are learned including health and safety, preparing food, and customer service. 
  • Day Services – Every day, Wiggly Willow provides a different training service. These day services focus on education and life skills. There are also a variety of physical activities aiming to promote personal development, physical and mental well-being. These include art club, money skills, keep fit class, and many more.  
  • Holidays – Each year, Wiggly Willow organises various day trips to different locations. There is also an activity-based holiday every year for 30 clients. Later this year they are heading off to Gunton Hall in Lowesoft! They purchased a minibus last year for their trips.   
  • Courses – For £20 you can sign up for a course that comes with lunch! Wiggly Willow has qualified trainers offering the courses of Makaton, first aid, manual handling and safeguarding. They also have free parent and carer groups. 

Wiggly Willow’s Community:  

Inside Wiggly Willow 

What makes Wiggy Willow so special is how they promote community amongst clients and staff. The courses they provide include lunch to gather everyone together. This has been fundamental for the creation of multiple friendships. Two people even got married, who had met each other in Wiggly Willow!   

When walking through the door, whether to attend a course or to buy a coffee, you are always greeted with a smile. It is considered a home to many people who attend. One client described how since coming to Wiggly Willow, her confidence has grown immensely. So much so that she has used this confidence to pursue her hobby of music and DJing.  

Their Kind Work Within Our Wider Community  

Wiggly Willow goes above and beyond for our local community. So many people are impacted by the work they do. This includes those with learning disabilities, parents, carers, the customers of the coffee shop, and people who were vulnerable through the Covid19 pandemic. During the coronavirus lockdowns, they kept morale high in our local community through their team singing “We’ll Meet Again” on the piano. They delivered homemade Christmas dinners to people who had to self-isolate.  

We are very grateful for all Wiggly Willow do. This is why we feel so privileged to have them as our team’s nominated cause of the year! We are looking forward to working with them. Take a look at Wiggly Willow’s website to find out more about them. You can also read about the IT services ITVET provide here.