Born from the LSMP (Legal Social Mobility Partnership), the SMBP has grown from offering opportunities to 20 students in London in 2014, to over 450 student places across the UK in 2019. We work with 150+ commercial organisations, professional services firms and professional sports teams working across 14 towns and cities to provide a week long placement for the students.
The SMBP Work Insight and Skills week starts with an induction where students explore the structure of large corporates and SME’s to gain an understanding of the various roles within them. A focus on the regulated roles within these businesses introduces students to the various pathways to law and finance and features interviews with young Solicitors, Barristers, Legal Executives and ACCA and ICAEW accountants. Additional information on various pathways to qualification in law and accountancy are made available on the SMBP Student App.
Students visit four different businesses in the week, learning and developing through interactive business games, and spend the fifth day at a professional sports club where they learn about the psychology of resilience. An online coaching platform then provides ongoing support to students to guide them through their journey to a career.
SMBP has a staff of 3. We interface and coordinate with hundreds of individual students, supporting businesses, County Councils and volunteers. We have a lot of applications to process and placements to organize, the administrative burden is significant. We decided to to move as much of our admin as we could online, initially opting for Google Suite. However, many of the law firms that we work with are not allowed to access Google from their server due to the additional security required when dealing with sensitive information.
Our process of sharing sensitive information (such as young person's risk assessments and students dietary, religious and access requirements) involved sending an initial email with a password protected document and then a separate email containing the password. As we continued to increase the number of student placements across the UK it was clear we needed an alternative solution which provided more efficiency allowing us to focus on other parts of the programmes delivery. We wanted to ensure we had both a sound collaboration portal and technology in place to help safeguard our growth.
Our objective was to find a secure online site that would enable us to securely share documents and information with multiple external users.
Safelink as the Solution
One of our volunteers who works for Milbank and runs one of our programmes in London recommended Safelink to us. Once we had a walk-through of Safelink’s capabilities it seemed like a no-brainer. Due to the nature of our work, Safelink very kindly donated us a license and since we have got up and running we have been able to convert very time-consuming processes to much more simplified workflows.
We created a main documents folder, where we have all the templates and vital information that anyone who's involved in a programme will need. Then we created specific 'cluster group' workspaces for each week long programme where the organisations involved can upload the populated templates to their own cluster workspace.
As we now have the activity reports in Safelink we can see who has downloaded the templates and who has uploaded their completed documents. This stops us having to make calls or send emails to find out the status of everyones' response. As each workspace is encrypted we have every confidence that all information is segregated appropriately and only accessible to those we give access to. As you can imagine, law firms are very happy with this level of security.
Given the sensitive nature of working with young students we have a Safeguarding Policy that volunteers have to read ahead of their involvement. On Safelink we have created a safeguarding policy pop-up which appears the first time someone logs on to access the SMBP Safelink platform. Volunteers must read and accept the policy to gain access to their allocated workspace and information, meaning anyone who has logged on to the platform has looked at the Safeguarding Policy, something that is compulsory for all volunteers.
In summary, the 4 main areas Safelink has really helped us is:
- Create a secure document and information repository for all our forms, documents, guidance, policies, trainings, schedules etc. and enabling us to make these easily available and accessible by multiple external parties.
- Reduce our email volume and the challenge of sending multiple pdf attachments to one email. We have secured all sensitive information - making sure it is only accessible to the right people and we no longer risk sending confidential information over email.
- Implement an enterprise grade secure collaboration portal, removing the barriers for corporate and legal partners being able to access the platform
- Reduce our admin time as, due to the activity register, we don't have to call people and ask them if they have received certain documents, completed certain forms, or executed specific tasks because we can see who has done what.
"It's a privilege to be able to support the Social Mobility Business Partnership, it is an inspirational initiative and we are delighted to contribute."
Harry Boxall | Director, Safelink