Nice Gestures: Finchale College

Rob Stevens has been volunteering with the educational charity to install a new server and help it achieve the UK Government-backed Cyber Essentials certification.

Rob Stevens, Infrastructure Engineer at Nice Network, has been volunteering with educational charity Finchale Group to help install a new server and to help it achieve the UK Government-backed Cyber Essentials certification.

The Finchale Group is an independent charity and leading provider of specialist employment programmes that support people with complex barriers to employment that want to make a life change to realise their full potential.

Staff members at Nice Network are all offered the chance to take a fully-paid day out of the office every month to participate in charitable and community projects as part of the company’s charity volunteering scheme.

Having worked with Finchale Group on a number of projects over the past 12 months, Rob heard of the company’s wish to achieve the UK Government-backed Cyber Essentials certification and has since worked with the team to help them prepare for the bid.

Below, he tells us about his experience working on the project so far…

Firstly, could you tell us a little about your work with Finchale Group and what it has involved?

I first got involved with Finchale Group after we secured a tender to provide them with IT support when they moved premises.  Part of the requirement of the move was a new comms room, and a completely refreshed server and network estate. We provided and installed a new physical server which runs a number of virtual servers providing a number of different services.  

We also implemented a full disaster recovery backup system with cloud replication, a backup power system, and enterprise grade switches with VLANs implemented for network segregation. All of this is connected via a Sophos XG firewall and system security is provided by Sophos Central Endpoint Protection.

We have since followed on from this by providing the group with ongoing technical support for its server and network systems, as well as guidance on its infrastructure and security.

How did you first hear of Finchale College and what made you want to get involved?

I must have driven past the old site hundreds of times, but I didn’t really become involved with them until their Nice Network Account Manager asked me to talk to them about requirements for their infrastructure upgrade.

You’ve also volunteered to work with the college on its Cyber Essentials qualification, what will this mean for the college should it achieve the accreditation?

Cyber Essentials is a UK Government-backed scheme that allows organisations to evaluate their digital security posture, correct any glaring problems, and provide their clients and customers with confidence that their data is being handled in a secure fashion.

The certification has become a requirement for contracts and tenders for a lot of larger organisations, as well as for involvement with government and military customers.  I have volunteered to do consulting for Finchale to get their systems and policies to the right standard, and to assist them with taking the assessment – this is being provided as part of Nice Network’s charity volunteering scheme, Nice Gestures.

Why is it important that businesses give back to the communities that serve them and support institutions such as Finchale College?

My thoughts on this would be that you never know what situation you or a loved one may find yourselves in and organisations like the Finchale Group provide invaluable help and support for people within the region.

Without giving something back, many of these organisations wouldn’t be able to survive as the sheer expense of just existing, let alone complying with the tidal wave of government policies that have swept across us all in recent years, would cripple them.

How rewarding is it for you, as an employee, to be given the chance to work on community and charitable initiatives as part of your role at Nice Network?

It’s good to see an organisation like Finchale being able to carry on their duties without their staff having to wrestle with clunky, slow systems and potentially leaving themselves open to fines and/or extortion as a result of not being able to afford to implement costly business systems and security management solutions.

Where do you see the relationship with Finchale College growing from here? Are there any more collaborations in the pipeline?

We have a couple of potential projects in the pipeline with them and I hope we can continue to develop our relationship with them as their go-to partners for guidance and services with their IT, security and telephony requirements.