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SIL 2013-14 Annual Report:SIL 2012 Annual Report 04/10/2013 10:07 Page 1

Sheffield Information Link

Final Annual Report: 2013/14 A celebration of 27 years service (1987 – 2014)









CE 198


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“Sadly by the time you read this we will be in the process of closing our service after 27 years. So we thought we’d make our final Annual Report a celebration of the service and support we have provided to families in and around Sheffield throughout this time. Thank you all for your support” Sharron Baroudi, Chief Executive

Pictured here are some of the staff and volunteers who have helped make SIL such a success over the years

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Every year since I have been Chair I have talked about the tremendous changes and many challenges that the charity has faced and overcome. This year is no different and as usual, despite all the odds, staff have continued to deliver services to the highest quality. I have highlighted a small selection of SILs many achievements during the year: • Increasing the take up of brokerage services by the most disadvantaged people in Sheffield through dedicated outreach • Successfully relocating the SIGN service and improving reach through targeted outreach to develop a city wide service • Increasing the take up of free nursery education and working tax credit • Recruiting and developing health champions working out in the community to promote early access to pregnancy and early years services • Developing a customer consultation group • Developing and promoting case studies to evidence the organisation’s impact to customers and potential funders • Successfully achieving the Information Standard


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• Revamping the website and increasing Facebook and twitter activity • Streamlining SILs internal fundraising and tendering processes by developing a resource base of regularly required information to support short notice opportunities All of this makes the fact that we have to end even more difficult. The Management Committee held an extraordinary general meeting on 3rd September and at that meeting recommended that Sheffield Information Link ceased trading on 20 January 2014. This was not a decision that the Management Committee took lightly and if there were a viable option it would have been seriously considered but against a backdrop of continued uncertainty there was no choice. The majority of our income was through contracts with Sheffield City Council. They have made the decision to take the services in house and post January there will be no contract. This would mean that we would be trading insolvent if we continued after that date and places us in an untenable position with regard to our duty to our staff in terms of redundancies and pensions. So it is with a very heavy heart that I say this is the final report after 27 years of operation.

I have only been part of SIL since 2008 and have had the privilege and great pleasure to have been Chair for most of that time with excellent Management Committee colleagues who like me have fought hard to keep the charity going. Many of you reading this will have played your own part in SILs long and illustrious journey and will have your own memories of the fantastic achievements over the years. I would like to thank all the staff for remaining motivated, committed and focused over these last few months. I am sure all of you who know Sharron, Trudie and Charlene will agree with me that they are true heroines. Their leadership, perseverance, selflessness and relentless hard work through months and years of uncertainty is outstanding and says everything about the quality of them as individuals and the quality of the charity. Take some time to read this final report and bittersweet though it feels rejoice in celebrating the best charity I have ever known.

Tracy Watterson Chair, SIL Management Committee


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In October 1987 Britain’s first computerised ‘Information and Resource’ project for parents of the under-fives was launched in Sheffield. Funded by the Department for Health and Social Services (DHSS), through a grant to the National Childminding Association, the service was based on similar American Projects that offered parents and carers general advice about child care.


Sheffield CIS was at the heart of the development of the nationwide network of CISs back in 1997/8 when the green paper was published. I remember when I first started in FIS in 1998 SIL was the blueprint and benchmark for all CISs and SIL has continued to be highly regarded by FIS Managers

Tony Marshall, Senior Development Officer, North Lincs Family Information Service

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When the service was threatened with closure as funding came to an end in 1989, Sheffield parents and local MP’s banded together to save the vital service and the rest is history. The service was rebranded as the Children’s Information Service in 1991 and funded by Sheffield City Council to offer information required by the Children’s Act 1989. There are now 206 FISs across the UK all based on the original model developed 27 years ago. The service rebranded as the Families Information Service in 2007 and was acknowledged as the central information resource for parents, supporting the local authority in delivering the Information Duty (Duty 12 of the Childcare Act 2006). Since that October day in 1987 SIL has survived many funding cuts and threats to its existence whilst maintaining and improving the service for Sheffield Families. Sadly this will all come to an end next year.

On Friday 17th January 2014 Sheffield’s Family Information Service will close its doors for the final time having supported more than a quarter of a million families over a twenty seven year period.

For so many many years Sheffield has been seen as a great FIS and I’ve really valued being able to work alongside you. Without Sheffield FIS it could be argued the rest of the world of FIS wouldn’t be here. On behalf of all the families you have helped over the years I want to say thank you. The difference you have made to thousands of families is immense

Niall McVicar, FIS Manager, York FIS


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ads dlad le n o o G t re aig Marga CMB Camp e th

In 2001 the government identified the need for employers to support their employees work life balance and adopt family friendly policies. SIL were successful in a bid for Objective 1 funding through the European Social Fund and a project called Children Mean Business was born. The project offered Sheffield Employers 35 hours support to develop its policies and implement the new initiative. The project offered employers a number of options to support its working parents resulting in increased satisfaction amongst the workforce and a reduction in absence. When the project came to an end in 2003 another successful bid to Objective 1 resulted in the service being renamed and rebranded as Creating More Balance South Yorkshire and SIL became the lead body of the projects expanded


reach over the whole of South Yorkshire working in partnership with Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham local authorities. The service developed a two pronged approach to work life balance through targeted work with both employers and employees. The development of a Maternity Pack assisted employers in supporting its employees through pregnancy and return to work. Work life balance is now integrated into the core of employers legal responsibilities with initiatives such as paternity leave, Kit days and flexible working.

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In 2001 SIL agreed to deliver Sheffield City Councils Workforce Recruitment and Development Project. This project was to promote training and careers in childcare. The work continued until the funding came to an end in 2010 after successfully supporting the increase of qualified childcare workers for Sheffield settings.

• Information, advice and assistance to potential childcare workers • Referrals to training providers • Jobs and skills matching for local settings • Development of a Recruitment pack

The project included: • Work with colleges, universities and local training providers • Promoting and advertising job vacancies • Attendance at school careers events • Presentations to jobcentre plus • Organisation of a national conference promoting men into childcare • Organisation of a regional conference promoting people with disabilities working in childcare


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In 2002 negotiations with Health, Social Services and Education led to agreement to set up a new information service for disabled children and their families. SIGN (Sheffield Information Giving Network for disabled children and young people and their families) opened at Ryegate Children’s Centre on the 7th January 2002 and has been supporting parents, carers and professionals ever since). When the service was threatened with closure in 2011 parents and professionals were quick to come to the defence of this vital organisation. In 2012 the service was moved from its base at Ryegate to Sheffield Information Links city centre premises and citywide delivery began in earnest with the start of SIGNs outreach programme.


fort Jones) of Martina Laird (Com ly opens the cial Casualty fame offi 2002 SIGN service in Sue James, our Disability Advice and Engagement Worker, took the service out into the local community to give families an opportunity to access information on their doorstep face to face. Sue went along to 20 Autism workshops where she was able to help families whose child had been recently diagnosed with Autism. She also attended parents evenings at local special schools and, more recently, Parents as Carers coffee mornings. During 2012/13 Sue met with 473 parents and carers at outreach sessions and was able to talk to them about the support that SIGN can offer.

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During 2012/13 SIGN delivered 8 professional awareness sessions to 62 people who work with disabled children. These were useful for people to learn more about the SIGN service and provided an opportunity for networking and sharing information. Alongside the professional awareness sessions SIGN met with 583 professional through outreach events. Since April 2013 the SIGN team have dealt with almost 2000 enquiries from families who have a disabled child or a child with additional needs or the professionals who support them. On average SIGN takes 110 enquiries each month. Our plans until January 2014 include more visits to parents in community venues. The calendar on the SIGN website,, has details of all of our upcoming outreach sessions along with other disability related events in the city. Parents, carers and professionals can still contact our helpline for information: 0114 266 9476 Monday – Friday 10.00am – 3.00pm or by email The SIGN website will also be regularly updated with the latest news and developments.

The service is extremely important as source of up to date information of services and support within the city for children with disabilities. Care for children with disabilities extends beyond the purely medical. With the psychosocial support provided by services such as SIGN families can gain a greater quality of life and without such services they can experience great distress, isolation and difficulty.

Dr P Hall, Clinical Psychologist

My 14 yr old daughter with epilepsy, ASD & LD has had a few quiet & happy years but will be leaving school in the next two years. We used SIGN at the beginning of her difficulties & will be using it again soon to access clubs & support for teenagers/ young people. Mainstream info services don't understand the needs of kids with SENs. Local parent


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ask Sid When the government highlighted the need for up to date accessible online information resources for parents Sheffield Information Link conducted research and consultancy with parents, carers and professionals to identify their online information needs.



When it became a requirement under the Children’s Plan to have an online service directory in all local authority areas, SIL successfully negotiated the contract for the development of the Sheffield Information Directory for Children, Young People and Families. Partnership work with key stakeholders and consultation with end users was a key element in the development of the service directory.

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Just one year after receiving the funding, the directory, called ask Sid was launched and since then, underpinned by the excellent work of the data team it has averaged Over 200,000 visits per year. The website has been actively promoted by SIL staff visiting school assemblies. These visits became lovingly known as the ‘tour de sid,’ and resulted in an increase in uptake of children’s activities across the board.

ren meet d l i h c l o o rpe sch o h t r 2012) e n t a a J W 0 1 ( on Tour ” d i S k s a “


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October 2012: Staff and Volunteers Celebrate 25 years of service to Sheffield Families

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1991 The service is renamed Children’s Information Service and is expanded to cover children aged 0-10 years

es Under Fiv Sheffield f o ch n Lau n Service Informatio




By 2005 the service was handling 17,000 enquiries per year





New p re opene mises on L d e Secreta by Educatio opold Street n w ry Dav id Blun and Employm ere kett M ent P

SIGN, a specialist information service for families of disabled children, opens at Ryegate Children’s Centre

SIL runs a hi gh community-b ly suc ased inf resulting in a new ou

The Full Monty is released and becomes a block-buster


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SIL celebrates twenty five years of informing and empowering families

Launch of ask Sid, an online directory of children’s services for Sheffield


hly successfu l ased inform pilot of atio new outreach n services, programme

The Crucible Theatre undergoes a major refurbishment


field med Shef pports ice is rena The serv n Link and now su ed 0-19+ Informatio d young people ag children an


Funding cuts and changes to local strategy see some services transfer to other providers. SIL Solutions launched to share best practice in HR, IT and information management.

Sadly, due to significant budget cuts, the decision is taken to close the organisation after 27 years of service to families in and around Sheffield


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SIL shop e h t f o g Openin 2007 in

s celebrate r a g n a S Andrew ss of ask Sid succe David Blu 10 years onfkett celebrates the SIGN se rvice

pproves a h g u o r o Joe Scarb Sid Taxi design the ask


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SIL developed its own hand held outreach kiosks for its outreach workers to facilitate easy access to information out in the community. When the Childcare Act 2006 identified the need for information services to go out into the community to reach disadvantaged and hard to reach families, SIL worked with Opportunity Links on a national pilot to test methods of delivery of CIS information through Children’s Centres. The pilot tested the best method of engaging with parents and resulted in SIL winning a contract to deliver outreach through Burngreave Children’s Centre. It proved an excellent opportunity to make a real difference in a community with a high BME population, that had not traditionally accessed services. SIL had developed a community language line for non English speaking parents in 2000 and those same information workers were deployed into the community to reach people in their neighbourhoods. Supporting Urdu, Punjabi, Somali and Arabic speaking families.

The project was hugely successful and outreach is still delivered through children’s centres and other settings where parents meet today. Supporting families to access childcare and children’s services when children’s centres close down has become of vital importance in ensuring continuity of care for many Sheffield parents.

The service that Sheffield Information Link offers is invaluable to parents. We have had excellent feedback from the parents who use the children’s centre on the prompt and efficient service SIL offers.

Tinsley Children’s Centre


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Sharon T ownsend and fami ly

SIL was the very first Family Information Service to be opened in the UK and set the pace for others to follow. 27 years later the success of the Sheffield ‘pilot’ has resulted in a Family Information Service in every major city supporting families with information, advice and assistance. Since its launch in 1987 Sheffield Information Link has supported 219,000 Sheffield families many of whom are the grand-children of parents using the service for the first time in 1987. More recently the need for brokerage (specialist advice) has increased as a result of nursery and children’s centre closures. SIL staff use their knowledge and expertise to handle on average one of these per week, many of which require additional research, hand holding and negotiation between families and providers.


I was getting really worried, I knew nothing about claiming maintenance, tax credits, council tax or anything else but the most important thing was finding someone to look after my kids while I went to work. I really knew nothing at all and would have been in a right mess if someone had not given me the number to Sheffield Information Link. I rang them to explain my situation and the person on the other end of the line calmly talked me through everything; without their help I have no idea what I would have done.

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Single father referred onto us by Gingerbread working nightshift in hotel, needing overnight care (11pm –7am) for his 17 month old child up to 5 days per week. Up until recently his parent had been providing the childcare but they are both now suffering from cancer and were struggling to provide the level of care their grandchild required.

My estranged wife is now seeking custody of our son. Having the appropriate childcare now in place will mean I stand a much better chance of keeping my son – building a stronger case when fighting for custody

We contacted Rotherham FIS for a list of potential carers as the parent lives in Rotherham but works in Sheffield. We contacted childminders that stated they offer overnight care we found 3 possible options. We provided the parent with this information as well as info on CSA and a Tax Credit (approx.) calculation for lone parents. The result was the parent found appropriate childcare from the list we provided which has now enabled him to continue to work. The parent told us “It has made a big difference to my life, a weight as been lifted from my shoulders and a huge pressure being lifted from my parents too”.


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Finding accurate information can be a minefield for parents especially when faced with millions of results from one search engine alone. Up-to-date, relevant and timely information is vital in supporting a family’s information needs and whilst it’s always done in the background, without it none of the other services that SIL provides would be so successful. Last year our data team handled a phenomenal 8329 updates to ensure that the information we held and disseminated met the NAFIS Families First Award Standard, was bang up to date and relevant for Sheffield Families. That doesn’t include updating factsheets when legislation changes are made.


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Ofsted information

Group Care

Ofsted data is checked and updated daily and this year the data team have handled 2089 updates including:

Over the year 1637 crèches, day nurseries, holiday playcare, nursery classes, out of school clubs, playgroups and toddler groups have been updated termly.

• 56 new childminder and home childcarer registrations • 15 new groupcare registrations


• 78 childminder and home childcarer deregistrations

357 childminders were updated quarterly on a rolling programme of active communication. This is not as simple as a single phone call and can often result in three attempts followed up by an email or a letter.

• 11 groupcare deregistrations • 77 proposed childminder or home childcarers • 17 proposed groupcare Leisure/Family support information Annually 2347 organisations and services were updated. Timely and accurate information to support parents during the school holidays is vital and whilst we were no longer able to produce our popular what’s on guide due to decreases in funding we continued to research, update and promote school holiday information through our ask Sid website.

To ensure accuracy of information, once a year a full update of childminder information is done via a questionnaire.

minders 357 child st year alone! updated la


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Since the outset Sheffield Information Link has been at the forefront of setting standards and accreditation for the services delivered to parents through all FIS and has constantly sought to improve its standards of service delivery for Sheffield Families through training and quality awards.

1999 CIS is first service in the country to achieve the National Quality Award developed by Choices in Childcare (the national network of CIS). 2000 In 2000 the huge growth of the number of CISs, brought about by the Governments National Childcare Strategy, led to a heavy demand for a training course for new information workers. Sheffield developed the Open College Network Course in Childcare Information. The model was adopted by the National Association of Children’s Information Services. The two day course was mandatory for new staff for many years. 2008 All Information staff trained to level 3 NVQ in Information Advice and Guidance.


o Ticks ss w T e h t line eves SIL achidisability friend or Award f

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2009 When the NAFIS Families First Award was developed, Sheffield played a key role in supporting its development and was the first independent Family Information Service to achieve the standard in 2009. In the same year SIL also achieved Prince 2 Accreditation.

Sheffi light foeld Informat io r all fam ily infonr Link is a shin mation in serviceg s

2010 Achieved the Disablity Friendly Award. National Training Awards finalist in the ‘Now is the Time Category’ 2011 Investors in People Gold Champion Investors in People Health and Wellbeing Award 2012 Achieved Information Standard

Local information services are a critical source of support for families. Easily accessible sources of information and advice can help families access services and make informed choices

Dawn Primarola


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SIL has always sought the most effective ways to communicate with Sheffield families and quickly adapted to the rise of websites and social media.


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The SIL website has seen many changes and upgrades over the years to ensure it remains state of the art. More recently the development of Facebook and Twitter feeds have resulted in an increase in general awareness of the service and proved a valuable means of reaching families with up to date useful information. On average the Facebook page has a 28 day viral reach of nearly 10,000.

2012 saw the development of the dedicated SIGN website which gave service users easier access to disability information online. The user friendly website is updated on a regular basis so that families have information at their fingertips. Enews activity has increased over the last few years with regular mailouts from both SIL and SIGN to families, childcare providers and professionals.


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Over the years SIL has organised and attended many events in the community including regulars such as the Burngreave Mela, Sharrow Festival, Tinsley Festival and more... The events proved very successful in engaging children, young people and parents alike and were used for everything from promoting careers in childcare to raising awareness of campaigns such as safeguarding, children’s rights and anti-bullying.


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Pregnancy and Early Years Health Champions The aim of the Pregnancy and Early Years Health Champions was to help promote the health and wellbeing of families during pregnancy and the first 2 years of infancy. All the Pregnancy and Early Years Health Champions complete compulsory training in areas like breastfeeding, attachment and health & wellbeing. They help parents in a variety of ways from supporting them to develop their parenting skills to promoting healthier lifestyles through smoke-free home pledges to signposting parents to useful services. The Health Champions are able to support parents on a one to one basis, helping those parents who may be struggling

to achieve confidence and independence after giving birth. They can also attend toddler groups, health visitor session and many of the Health Champions have created new groups in seriously deprived areas to support families in need. We recruited two health champions in January 2013 and a further 6 in August 2013 after we received a massive 19 shows of interests for the role due to our updated recruitment campaign, which saw over 50 shows of interest for our 5 different volunteer roles in one month.


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“ mith Susan S hampion C t SIL Paren

I have been volunteering as a Parent Champion at SIL for over a year now and it has been an enormously positive experience for me personally and I hope for the families in my community who have benefitted by being informed about the information and services to children and families that still do exist. I have linked with local Health Visitors and Learning Mentors as well as directly meeting parents at baby groups and toddler groups and other events in my community.


The objective of the scheme is to share personal positive experiences around childcare and early learning activities, encouraging the take-up among other parents and families, particularly in communities where the use of childcare is not widespread. One of our main aims is to pass information on and to engage with people within communities. Our parent champion Susan Smith attended a massive 36 outreach sessions between Sept 12th and April 13th where she engaged and provided information to approx. 221 parent/ carers. Susan is a much valued member of our Service delivery team.



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Towards the end of 2012 we received £5,624 from the Santander Foundation to deliver this project to young mums and expectant mums across the city.

use the remaining balance of funds to support other charitable activities for families.

We started with a pilot in Darnall supported by the Darnall Family Development Project where we supported young mums to understand why budgeting and saving is important, what influenced their spending and what changes they could make to improve their current and future financial positions.

• 35 parents/carers free Makaton Training

The project has been a great success with mums starting savings plans, cutting down on unnecessary expenditure and making informed choices when shopping. The curriculum for the course was developed through UKYouth. Due to the decision to close the charity in 2013 the Santander Foundation agreed to allow us to

So, thanks to them, we have also been able to offer: • A Paediatric First Aid course via the PLA • A Play to Learn Course via the PLA • Sheffield’s Pregnancy and Early Years Champions (via Sheffield Cubed) a resource fund of £740


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In March 2013 we were successful in a funding bid to deliver employability skills to parents and carers in Sheffield receiving £9,986 from Awards for All. The project was aimed at assisting people in some of Sheffield’s most deprived areas that have been busy bringing up a family but had started to think about starting or restarting a career. The endgame was not about putting people into work. Things may have changed considerably since some of the people we targeted last worked. We believed they would have skills gained from bringing up a family and running a home that could be applied in other places; we aimed to show them they could do other things. That might be work, volunteering with a community group or academic study, whatever was appropriate to help them develop their lives. Due to the decision to close the charity in 2013 we were unable to deliver the whole project but we made a big difference to 9 individuals and their families.


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Our top products were: Childcare Payment Solutions

Sheffield Information Link’s Trading Arm Throughout its long life, our charity has been recognised for its innovation and excellence in information development and delivery, as well as behind the scenes in our back-office services. SIL Solutions specialised in business-tobusiness support and problem-solving, including HR, IT, training and consultancy services. 100% of its profits were gifted to Sheffield Information Link, supporting our work with Sheffield’s families.


This was a scheme which helped employers save money for their business and their employees by paying for childcare costs before tax deductions. It was cheaper than childcare vouchers, because we supported employers to manage the scheme themselves. We were the official provider of Chamber Childcare to Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce members and had just been approved to deliver the CPS to Sheffield Chamber Members. Unfortunately due to our pending closure we could not accept this contract.

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Makaton Training – we have supported many individuals, parents, carers and professionals to gain this communication skill. Used as a communication tool for both children and young adults our tutor, Linda Wright, has motivated and enthused hundreds of people over the last couple of years with her great delivery and fun sessions. Our training was accredited by the Makaton Charity where Linda is a registered tutor. Electronic Information Pads – were developed to enable children and families access to information at their fingertips. We worked with Portercroft School to develop a terminal where parents could access school information such as policies and weekly menus. Our SIL and SIGN EIP’s enabled staff to access information about childcare and children’s services out in the community. FIS Dynamics – We worked in partnership with local IT company Arkom to develop a new and innovative database for FIS’s nationally. The new database built on a Microsoft Dynamics platform provides a more flexible approach to data storage and underpins a user friendly online service directory. FIS Dynamics was well received at the NAFIS Conference.

We employed 3 people to start up the business with support from John Pepin, a consultant and entrepreneur from London. John kept us all on our toes, questioning and researching and working out where our markets were. We are grateful for his support and insight. We merged the business back into the charity in 2013 when we had agreement that all the trading we were doing was covered by our charitable aims and objectives. We have continued delivering our services with the support of Lucy Wilks the charity’s Business and Admin Assistant and our Deputy Chief Executive.


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Sheffield Information Link Team Staff


Sharron Baroudi

Alison Adler (Until July 2013)

Anna Berridge

Mark Mercado (from October 2012)

Paula Bird

Susan Smith (from May 2012)

Anna Brown

Maisoon Juhani (from January 2013)

Jacqui Dace (until June 2013) Seirian Davies (until June 2013) Charlene Fernandes Emma Green (until June 2013) Mandy Hetherington

Management Committee Chair: Tracy Watterson

Sue James Ruth Moore

Charities Aid Foundation 25 Kings Hill Avenue Kings Hill West Malling Kent ME19 4TA

Treasurer: Ged Warren

Jill Hughes Melanie Hunt (until February 2013)

Bankers: HSBC 2 Fargate Sheffield S1 2JS

Rachel Bovill Kay Rollings Roldan Tagaro

Auditors: UHY Wingfield Slater 6 Broadfield Court Broadfield Way Sheffield S8 0XF

Andrea Naylor Richard Pashley (until April 2013) Rachel Plummer (until June 2013) Bet Rudge (from October 2012 until August 2013)

This Annual Review has been produced to provide an account of SIL’s progress this year and celebrate what will be 27 years of supporting Sheffield Families when it closes in January 2013.

Casey Smallwood Trudie Smallwood Alison Smith Naomi Swain (until May 2012) Rosie Taylor (until Dec 2012) Roldan Tagaro (until March 2013) Lucy Wilks (from April 2012)

Registered Office: Sheffield Information Link 9 Leopold Street Sheffield S1 2GY

Registered Charity No: 1065185 Company No: 3426470 Company Secretary: Sharron Baroudi

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank our funders without whom much of our work would not be possible. Š Sheffield Information Link 2013

Sil 2013 14 annual report  

It is with great sadness but immense pride that we present what will be our final Annual Report. The organisation is to close in January ne...

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