Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

First Directory Goes Back to University

First Directory has a long tradition of supporting local charities and this year has been no different. Our chosen charity this year was the Buckingham & District branch of the University of the Third Age.

The first University of the Third Age (U3A) was founded in Toulouse, France in 1972 as a summer school catering exclusively for retired people. The movement grew as an academic organisation associated with French universities. When the idea moved across to the United Kingdom ten years later, it established itself as a self-help organization open to anybody over 50 years of age as both a social and life-long learning facility.

Buckingham & District University of the Third AgeIn the UK there are over 900 local groups and U3A Buckingham has been very successful with over 700 members, it is twice the size of the average group.  This success left their ancient website struggling with meeting the members’ needs and as part of our philosophy of giving back to the community we decided to help U3A Buckingham with a complete update of their website and email management system.   Simplicity was a key element as the site will be managed by a member of the group and we wanted to avoid the need for any specialist programming skills.

Their members regularly attend over 60 different group activities and the website is a key factor in keeping everybody up to date with group news, forthcoming events and providing feedback on past events.  In addition the majority of members now use email as an everyday communication tool and they wanted a solution that protected members’ privacy whilst not impeding contact.

The idea was to give ownership to the whole membership so Individual Group co-ordinators can update their group information whilst individual members can comment on any activity, ensuring that views (both good and bad) are shared.  In addition every Group Co-ordinator and committee members now have a ‘public’ email so they can be easily contacted.

The new website can be seen at:

The new site has been very well received and since its launch they now have members in America and Australia who have joined online to share their knowledge with their special interest group.

Home Sweet Home

Having recently moved offices we’ve had a fair few customers ask what the new offices are like so I thought I’d share a few photo’s.

In terms of location we’ve only moved 10 minutes down the road from a fairly drab 80’s office building in the centre of Milton Keynes to a much nicer (and older) 1830’s converted grain barn with pretty much identical square footage. However those 10 minutes make a huge difference, not only do we now get better quality internet (pretty critical in our line of business) but we also get a lake and plenty of walks to enjoy at lunch time through the glorious country side surrounding the office.

As you might guess from the tidy desks, these were taken just before all the staff moved across.

The season of goodwill

At the start of December sales team member Nicole and friend persuaded a number of local Milton Keynes companies to help collect food for the MK Food Bank. Here’s what happened…

“Hunger is not just a third world problem. Even in our prosperous new city of Milton Keynes, there are many people living on the edge of poverty” – MK Food Bank

Everyone who know me know’s Christmas is my favourite time of year! So this year I thought it would be quite nice to give a helping hand to those in our area who struggle to eat, let alone splash out on Christmas presents as we all do.  I looked into things I could do in the area to give a helping hand especially over the Christmas season. When I was looking into things like ‘soup kitchens’ I found they all clashed with work. As lovely as it would be to have that time available to help out, if I didn’t work then it wouldn’t be long until I joined the people I was trying to help on the other side of the counter!! Then I came across MK Food Bank.

I got to thinking of the old story about the three men travelling through a cold winter in a time where food in any household was minimal. They had asked for help at several household but nobody had enough food to feed these travellers too. Along the way one man was donated a couple of potatoes, one was donated a couple of carrots, one was donated a bit of meat. On their own neither traveller could make a meal yet when they put their items together they found they could make a hearty stew. If I could gather anybody willing to help to bring even the smallest donation, as a collective we could bring so much more down to the Food Bank just before the Christmas Holidays that would help stop someone in our area from going hungry this festive season.

When speaking to people in the office about this everyone all loved the idea. Jessica, one of my friends (who I have known since I was 16) had a similar idea so we put our heads together and thought if we pooled our collections; even better. So we got to work.

I cannot thank you all enough for your help and support, everybody jumped on board and bit by bit all of you donated something each and we ended up with a fantastic collection. This morning we went down to the Food Bank with all of the food we had donated to us from a collective of First Directory, Komcept Solutions and Charles Clinkard as well as our own donations and had TWO CAR BOOTS FULL of food! Thank you once again!

MK Food Bank Donation

Doing our bit to help…

Hut destroyed by Typhoon HaiyanTyphoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines on 8th November, causing catastrophic damage. It is the most severe storm ever to make landfall, this in an area where thousands were already homeless following an earthquake earlier in the year.

Hearing about the plight of these people and being determined to do our bit to help, the First Directory sales team swung into action with a pledge to donate money for every sale they achieved.  Over the following few weeks we watched the Typhoon Totaliser creep upwards  until we reached  the final sum of £285.  This has now been donated to the Red Cross, whose Philippine volunteers are getting aid to the people who are most in need and preparing to help thousands more.